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Center of the Sun: Adding another scoring threat could be the best way to lower CP3’s minutes

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

I often hear other fans voicing the opinion that Chris Paul needs more “rest” during the season. I agree but only in terms of trying to cut back his minutes per game. Occasionally holding him out on the second night of back-to-backs when he played excessive minutes the night before could also be part of it but keeping down his minutes per game should be the biggest concern.

Last season CP3 averaged 32.9 minutes per game which isn’t too bad... for the average NBA player. Skill wise, CP3 is far above average but he is also far above average age wise (the average age of an NBA player is 25.5 years). His 32.9 mpg last season was his highest average per game since the 2014/15 season when he was 29. Not far above his averages in each year since then but still above them and even an extra minute or two per game adds up over the course of a full season... especially for a 37 year old.

The most obvious answer to how the Suns can cut back on his minutes per game is to get a better backup point guard who can perform well enough that CP3 doesn’t need to rack up lots of minutes to guarantee wins for the Suns. A second option (and perhaps the best one) would be for the Suns to get another scorer - regardless of position - that can create his own scoring opportunities. That would ease some of scoring load from his shoulders and should also help reduce his minutes.

Kevin Durant is a prime example of the second option but if the Suns have to wreck their depth to make that trade happen, then less court time for CP3 certainly isn’t a sure thing. Hopefully, a trade for him that won’t gut the roster may still come but, if it doesn’t, getting someone else that can fill that role should still be a goal for James Jones.

Right now, the Suns have two players (Booker and Paul) who can create their own shots regardless of who passes them the ball and/or where they are on the court when they get it. Getting someone very good to backup CP3 would help a lot but, if he can’t also create his own scoring opportunities, that alone won’t make the Suns a great deal better or guarantee that CP3’s minutes will decrease. Adding someone who could be a third scoring threat from anywhere on the court (like KD) would be the best option overall as that would allow the Suns to often have three players on the court at a time that make most defenders think “Oh crap!” whenever they get the ball in their hands.

Do any of you remember Norris Cole? He was the Miami Heat’s backup PG on their last two Championship teams in 2012 and 2013 and his career stats in points, assists, FG and 3-point percentages are all lower than Cam Payne’s. And Cole was Mario Chalmers’ backup! The Heat had three guys (LeBron, D Wade and Bosh) who could create for themselves (and others) so who was playing PG didn’t really matter that much. There are other examples I could bring up but my point is that just getting a better backup PG probably won’t do as much good - even in reducing CP3’s minutes - as bringing in another scorer who can create his own shots and take over some of the scoring load.

It would be beneficial for the Suns to upgrade the backup PG position but would it make a significant difference? Not if that new player isn’t one who can create offense for himself as well as others. If the Suns were to get another high level scorer (like KD) it wouldn’t matter much who was subbing in for CP3 as the Suns could work their player rotation so that they almost always had two high level scorers who could create their own shots on the floor at the same time... and all three of them when necessary.

Don’t get me wrong. Acquiring a better backup PG would be a good thing but I believe that alone is less likely to significantly decrease CP3’s workload than acquiring another go-to scorer.

Getting both would be great but getting a third offensive weapon - whether it’s KD or someone else - should still be the Suns’ number one priority.


2021-22 Season Highlights

CLIPPERS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 6, 2022

SUNS at RAPTORS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 11, 2022

SUNS at PACERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 14, 2022


Quotes of the Week

“I’m happy. The process is over. I put all this behind me and focus on chasing a championship this upcoming season with my brothers.” - Deandre Ayton

“I’m just excited for what his (Ayton’s) next steps look like. He’s motivated to continue to improve, and we’re motivated to help him reach that level.” - James Jones


News & Notes

5 Phoenix Suns players with the most to prove in 2022-23. Sportsnaut

3 Trade Suitors To Monitor For Phoenix Suns’ Jae Crowder. NBA Analysis Network

Full 2022 NBA offseason grades for Suns. Clutch Points

Suns Fall to Third in Kevin Durant Next Team Odds. Yardbarker

NBA Trades: 3 targets for the Phoenix Suns not named Kevin Durant. Hoops Habit

Phoenix Suns All-Time Starting Lineup, Bench, And Coach. Fadeaway World

Raja Bell on the 7-seconds-or-less Phoenix Suns: “It was the best thing that ever happened to me”. Basketball Network

Every NBA Team’s Most Underrated Player. Bleacher Report


This Week in Suns History & Suns Trivia

On July 26, 2010, the Suns waived Taylor Griffin (the older brother of Blake Griffin) whom they had drafted with the 48th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Taylor turned out to not be anywhere near the player his soon to be NBA All-Star younger brother would become and played in only 8 games for the Suns (averaging only 4 minutes per game) throughout the season. He would not play in the NBA again although he was briefly picked up by the Charlotte Bobcats for 9 days in December before being waived yet again without seeing any court time there. Taylor did actually make the Suns’ highlight reel once though...

Taylor Griffin Huge Block and Reverse Slam vs Clippers

On July 27, 2013, the Suns traded Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a 2014 1st round draft pick (Bogdan Bogdanović was later selected). Green and Plumlee played integral parts in the Suns’ short-lived turnaround in 2013-14 when they went 48-34. They improved by 23 wins over the previous season (25-57) and just barely missed the playoffs in an extremely tough Western conference.

On July 29, 2020, the Phoenix Suns officially announced the sale of their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, to the Detroit Pistons. The team was supposed to relocate from Prescott Valley to Phoenix to play one more season as the NAZ Suns but the team withdrew entirely from the 2020–21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic when the G League held an abbreviated season in a ‘bubble’ in Orlando, Florida.

On July 31, 2020, the Suns won the first of eight games in the Orlando Bubble 125-122 against the Washington Wizards after the 2019/20 regular season had been suspended for 4.5 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With only a 26-39 record before the season resumed (in what were called the “seeding” games) in the bubble, the Suns had an extreme uphill battle to get to the playoffs but won all 8 of their bubble games and missed out on the new playin game due only to a tiebreaker between them and Memphis. Despite this, they had the best record of all 22 of the teams that qualified for the bubble, Monty Williams was named Coach of the Seeding Games and Devin Booker was named to the All-Seeding Games First Team.

Monty Williams’ new contract extension makes him the first Suns head coach to be given an extension since Alvin Gentry received a 3-year extension back in 2010. Since Gentry was fired in the final year of that extension (January 2013) the Suns went through 5 head coaches in the 6.5 year stretch between his firing and the hiring of Monty Williams with a combined record of 185-347 (.348). Williams has a 149-78 (.656) record in his three seasons.


Classic Suns Highlights

Phoenix Suns Top 10 Plays of the 2013-14 Season

Phoenix Suns BEST Plays From The Bubble 8-0 Record!


Important Future Dates

August ? - Regular season schedules expected to be released.

August 31 - Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2022/23 salaries.

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks; those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.

Late September (specific dates TBA) - Training camps open.

October 22 - Regular season begins.

December 15 - Most players signed during offseason can be traded.

January 5 - 10-day contracts may now be signed.

January 15 - All players signed during offseason can be traded.

February 17-19 - 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend/All-Star Game (Salt Lake City, UT)