Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
First up, 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 - If the Suns basically “run it back” with pretty much the same team as last season, what do you believe that head coach Monty Williams could/should do that would make the 2022/23 Suns better than the 2021/22 Suns?
GuarGuar: Monty needs to be much more flexible with our defensive scheme. We played a drop coverage in pick and rolls 95% of the time last year. Us not being able to adapt and play other schemes was our demise last season. I want to see Monty experiment more with other defensive coverages so we are experienced and ready come playoff time. This team used to be more schematically versatile but losing Willie Green apparently changed that.
OldAz: This is an easy one for me as I have been saying this for about 8 months now. The 12-15 minutes when Book is NOT on the floor should ALL have DA, Mikal, and Cam J on the floor with 2 bench players. The offense must run through those 3 in these important minutes. DA, Mikal, and Cam must be pushed to get better and they must also be allowed to struggle. Specific sets should be run to force the ball to DA in different spots on the floor and dribble and all of this should be to maximize whatever development they can realize during the regular season.
This will also mean more minutes where CP3 and Book will be on the floor with backups including a backup center, but they should be able to hold their own on those minutes regardless. Even if this costs the team 6-8 wins, they will be far better prepared come playoff time and in future years.
Cliff30: Play CP3 less, and make him sit an occasional game. I don’t care if he doesn’t like it. You’re the coach, he isn’t. And utilize Ayton more on offense. It might be forced at first. But he needs to be taking 15+ shots per game. Because if we’re the same team the biggest opportunity for improvement is Ayton’s growth. Prioritize his development over regular season wins and hopefully we reap the rewards with a more confident and skilled Ayton in the postseason.
Rod: In a general sense, I believe Monty needs to be more flexible. He doesn’t make quick adjustments in games both on offense and defense. He also tends to stick with players too long when they’re having bad games. Sure when a shooter is having a bad night you need to give them a chance to shoot their way out of a slump but I think he gives some players too long of a leash.
He’s also got to get DA more involved in the offense during the 2nd half of games. I don’t believe it’s planned that way but I think he gives CP3 and Book a little to much freedom to freelance in the 2nd half.
Q2 - At they are at this moment, rank the top 5 teams in the West?
GuarGuar: 1. Clippers - Best talent when healthy. Very versatile .
2. Warriors - Defending champs and upcoming youth.
3. Suns - Best record in the league last year and improving young core.
4. Nuggets - Should be healthier this season. Went to conference finals last time they were healthy.
5. Timberwolves - Should be a great defensive team and their size will cause issues.
OldAz: 1. Warriors - Until someone proves otherwise, they just are.
2. Clippers - If “at this moment” assumes Leonard and George are healthy, along with their new additions this will be a very good basketball team.
3. Suns - Could be a higher seed if that’s what they pursue in the regular season, but should prioritize development and be happy with a top 4 seed.
4/5/6. I am cheating and listing the Nuggets, Mavs, and Grizz all together at this spot. There is little separation here because Denver has experience as a unit if they stay healthy, the Mav’s have a great player and some good new pieces but who knows how it will all fit, and Memphis could be the top or bottom of this group depending on how impactful and long the loss of JJJ is.
Cliff30: 1. Warriors - They’re the champs, they’re bringing back the full squad and despite having some aged pieces they actually have plenty of upside on their roster with Poole, Kuminga and Wiseman. So tough to go with any other team.
2. Suns - I want to give credit to the Mavs for beating us. But we beat ourselves in that series, and they lost their second best player. This squad is still really good. I still think they’re the second best team even if they don’t make the kind of significant addition that I’m hoping for.
3. Nuggets - They’ve got Jokic and now they should be getting Murray and MPJ back. I thought about ranking them above us. But the fact of the matter is they aren’t guaranteed to get the pre-injury version of Murray back coming off a significant injury with a year of rust. And MPJ is just back until his next injury. So while on paper this group could challenge us, we’ll see if this group really is at full strength.
4. Mavericks - They have Luka so they’re going to compete. Losing Brunson is huge. But they add Christian Wood, McGee and Tim Hardaway Jr. returns at some point. It’s a weak supporting cast, but it’s a star league and they have a great one.
5. Grizzlies - It feels disrespectful to put them here. Ja is electric and they finished 2nd in the West with 56 wins.. But I do think that the JJJ injury is concerning and the West is just really, really good. I mean I’m leaving off two LA teams that with health feature the best duos in the conference and could easily win it all, not to mention a pesky NO team that might be adding their best player back and a Timberwolves team that added an all time great defender. Definitely plenty that could happen to make my list look very silly at the end of the year.
Rod: 1. Warriors - They’re #1 mainly because they won it all last season but the lowest I’d consider rating them is #2.
2. Clippers - This year’s LAC team is the most talented they’ve ever had. If everyone stays healthy, this could be their year.
3. Suns - Without any major changes, they’re still going to be very good. If DA is more involved in the offense and plays consistently well, putting them at #3 might be underestimating them.
4. Nuggets - With Jamal Murray back and the rest of the team healthy, they will be a tough team this season.
5. Timberwolves - There are 2/3 other teams that I considered placing here but I consider Minnesota to be something of a wild card with their acquisition of Gobert and moving KAT to PF. If it works, the T-wolves could give other teams fits trying to matchup with them.
Memphis, Dallas and New Orleans (with a healthy Zion) could all be in the mix for the top 5 too.
Q3 - If Kemba Walker is bought out by the Pistons, do you think that the Suns should consider signing him?
GuarGuar: Kemba’s knees are a real issue and the only way I would consider bringing him on is if we have another reliable backup guard. Kemba can’t be relied upon to purely be our backup. His injury history is too big to ignore. But there certainly is upside with him and that sparks my interest to have him as an end of the rotation guy.
OldAz: It depends entirely on what Kemba is looking for. If he wants more guaranteed minutes or thinks he is better than what he really is at this point, then “No Thank You”. However, if he is humbled and looking for an opportunity like Cam Payne a few years ago, then it might be worth it. He projects similar to Cam Payne for this season but has more upside potential IMO, so having competition at the backup PG spot might raise one of their games enough to make a difference. It also depends on what other options there are in trade scenarios.
Cliff30: I have no idea if he’d be happy in the limited role here. But if he’s willing to take the MLE to come here then he must be willing to accept that role and we’d be lucky to have him. And he’s a great fit. Certainly a much better add than Schroder. There’s obviously an injury risk there. But if he can get healthy and right we’d have a legitimate 20 ppg scorer coming off the bench.
Rod: If he’s willing to play for the vet minimum, then I’m all for it. There are durability issues of course but he can still play great on any given night as evidenced by a 44 point, 8 assist and 9 rebound game he had last season against the Wizards on 12/23/21. Because of his recent injury problems, I wouldn’t want him instead of Cam Payne though but I think having both of them on the bench would give the Suns additional firepower at PG at a bargain price.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
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Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Cameron Payne...”
39% - Just had a bad year last season and is better than his stats indicate.
61% - Fell back to his normal self after overachieving the year before.
A total of 292 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Where do you rank the Suns (without KD) at in the West this year?
This poll is closed
Lower than 5th.