Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Playoff basketball returns to The Valley tomorrow as the New Orleans Pelicans come to Phoenix for the first game in their playoff series with the Suns. At the end of this article you can find the results of last week’s poll on which team fans thought the Suns would face in the first round and the Pelicans were picked as the least likely team to get the 8th seed. Only 6% of fans selected them so I’m certain that this matchup comes as something of a surprise to many.
It should be an exciting series and I hope you’re all as excited as I am to watch the Suns to begin another run at an NBA Championship!
Game time is 6:00 pm (local time) on TNT.
And now, on to the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - NBA awards season is almost here. Which Suns player/players do you think are most deserving of winning awards (whether they get them or not)?
Sun-Arc: I like the “run the table” discussions that have been going around:
- Jones for GM of the year
- Monty for COY
- Booker for MVP
- Bridges for DPOY
- Johnson for MIP
I think Monty and Bridges fully deserve those awards and I can make a good case for James Jones as well. Booker and Johnson… tougher call. As great as Booker has been I still think he’s in (at best) 4th place for MVP.
SouthernSun: MVP: Devin Booker. I believe he is deserving of the award. He kept the team afloat and at the top of the standings even while Chris Paul was out for a considerable amount of time. They are both incredibly important to the team, and I do think CP3 has been a huge part of the stellar seasons that guys like Cam Johnson and Bridges and Ayton have put together... but he was out with injury for a long time and Book held things together. Give that man this award.
Alex S: Mikal making first team all-defense and Devin Booker making 1st team All-NBA. These are the two awards that I feel shouldn’t even be up for debate. Mikal and Devin have both been two of the most consistent players in the NBA this season and have more than enough evidence to validate these two selections.
Chris Paul for third team All-NBA. This one doesn’t go with #1 because there’s an actual argument to be made against Chris if you went the route of Donovan Mitchell and/or Trae Young over him for third team. First team should be Book and Luka, second team Ja and Steph, so that leaves three (four if you want to count Lavine) guys for two spots. I give Chris the nod along with Trae personally.
Mikal Bridges for DPOY. I think Mikal has a legitimate shot at DPOY but you can’t discount arguments for Marcus Smart, Bam Adebayo, JJJ, Gobert, Robert Williams (not as much with the injury), and Giannis. I think Mikal ends up in the top 3 but we’re really going to see how the media handles this one!
Cam Johnson 6th MOY. I would have been putting this higher on my list had he not gotten injured. This will be Herro’s to runaway with but would be curious to see if Cam cracks the top 3 next to KLove.
DBook MVP. Love Devin and what he’s done this year but MVP isn’t going to happen. What I DO hope for is Booker ending up within the top 5. I personally advocate for Jokic 1, Embiid 2, Giannis 3, Book 4, Tatum 5. However, Luka might kick him out of the top 5. We’ll keep an eye out to see what happens.
Rod: Book deserves to at least be a strong candidate for MVP whether he gets it or not. He also should get a slot on the 1st team All-NBA team. I’ll also say that Bridges even more strongly deserves the DPOY award and has earned a spot on the All-Defensive 1st team. As the NBA leader in assists and 2nd in steals per game, CP3 also deserves to be on one of the All-NBA teams. If Cam Johnson hadn’t gotten injured and had continued playing at the high level he had been, I would have argued the he had a good case for 6th man of the year or maybe MIP.
Q2 - Does anyone really have a better case than Monty Williams to be named COTY?
Sun-Arc: I do not know how anyone could argue against the coach that has the best record in the league by a MILE, improving a team coming off a finals appearance. No doubting what Taylor Jenkins did with Memphis as remarkable. It truly is, particularly how they won without Morant. They still ended up 8 games back from the Suns. Case closed, IMO.
SouthernSun: No. End of story. He deserved it last year. He deserves it this year. Hopefully they won’t do what they tend to do and give it to a white guy who is less deserving. Monty deserves this award 150% more than the next best coach. As soon as he came aboard, the Suns trajectory completely changed. He is more deserving of this than any head coach who won it in recent memory.
Alex S: Nope. Had Monty won COTY last year I think we’re having a different conversation but there are politics that come with voting awards. Even dismissing the politics side of voting, Monty is well deserving having managed multiple injuries to all key pieces in the rotation other than Mikal.
My clear #2 is Taylor Jenkins and right behind him is Ime Udoka. Honorable mention to Frank Vogel (jk).
Rod: A few other coaches have good cases to consider but I believe Monty has the strongest case. Many people - fans of other teams especially - trying to make their cases for other coaches often say that their coach of choice didn’t have as much to work with and/or had more adversity to overcome. Monty’s built something special with the talent he was given and turned them into a well oiled machine despite the problems (and distractions) he and the team has had to deal with this season. We’ve seen other teams fail to live up to expectations with lots of talent on their rosters. Leadership like Monty’s is what turns potential into reality.
Q3 - Do you think the whole “Suns get no respect!” narrative among fans is a little over blown?
Sun-Arc: The Suns getting no respect is real, but only because we sucked for so long. We got lots of respect in the early 90’s and again in the SSOL years. It took a year or two for that respect to be…. well, to be respected. Around the league, at least. I think that is happening now. All the players and other coaches throwing weight around regarding the team and Booker, Paul, etc. I think we’ll see greater respect following this season. The only caveat there is IF we get knocked out in the first two rounds. I think that would set us back significantly.
SouthernSun: No its not. They really don’t. Because they were terrible for a long time and aren’t from a “cool” city (in the eyes of other fans). As soon as Chicago has been really good for a couple of years, they’ll be right back to getting respect. Not the Suns though. And as far as officiating, I think most of us know that some of that is a Sarver issue. There have been rumors that he is somehow at fault for that, and I wouldn’t dismiss them very quickly...
Alex S: Oh yeah. I think last year the qualm was legitimate but this year we’re getting enough respect. I think part of our fanbase needs to realize that fans of good franchises such as Golden State aren’t going to fully respect you until you bring home the whole thing. The thing is…do their opinions matter?
We’ve seen what this team is capable of on a nightly basis, you don’t need the general publics approval in order to have “respect”. Go out and earn it!
Rod: I do think that it gets a little overblown at times but I think that is mostly due to a lot of accumulated fan frustration. Some people seem to get a little carried way with it and use it as an excuse for anything that goes wrong and/or against Phoenix but the disrespect of the Suns is real.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (GuarGuar did not participate this week.)
Interesting Suns Stuff
Why The Phoenix Suns Will Win The NBA Finals Ft: Ignorance and Basketball
How Mikal Bridges Enabled The Phoenix Suns To Make HISTORY in 2022
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Who do you think the Suns’ 1st round opponent will be?”
51% - Minnesota Timberwolves.
34% - LA Clippers.
06% - New Orleans Pelicans.
09% - San Antonio Spurs.
A total of 281 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
How will the Suns’ 1st round series end?
This poll is closed
Suns win in 4.
Suns win in 5.
Suns win in 6.
Suns win in 7.
Suns somehow lose.