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 - There’s been a lot of speculation on a possible Suns/Jazz trade and since the Jazz are rebuilding, they want draft picks back, especially 1st round picks. Do you consider anyone on their roster worth the Suns sending back one of their future 1st rounders to acquire?
GuarGuar: I think Bogdanovic could be worth a future first but it would have to be heavily protected. He could be a really nice bench piece for us, especially if Crowder is leaving. We need guys who can generate their own offense and Bojan can definitely do that.
OldAz: To me the answer is not the 1st round picks, as I would gladly give up a 1st for Bogdanovic or Markkanen, or if they could somehow take on the salary for Conley. Any of these players would be an awesome addition for a team with Championship aspirations. However, for me the real cost question would be which players have to be given up to make a trade work. Many Bright Siders have a low value on Crowder, and this is short sighted in my opinion. If any of the Suns top 6 had to be included in a deal for a Jazz player, i would pass. Bojan is a more developed version of Cam J, but he is no upgrade in rebounding (which is seriously needed) and is far worse on defense. The same can be said of Lauri but at least he brings better rebounding. Excluding the top 6, that only leaves Craig, Payne, Shamet & Saric to make a trade and include picks. If the Jazz are game for a 1st rounder plus salary from among these 4 Suns I would go for it.
Cliff30: Bojan is worth a first round pick. I’d prefer it to be the 2023 pick, I know Dave outlined why they’d prefer a 2024 pick, but the Jazz can consolidate or move picks for future picks as they see fit. With all the picks they have it’s going to be a necessity. I think they’d gladly take the extra 2023 pick and either package them to move up or trade the pick for a future pick on draft day. I’d like to have Clarkson. But he’s too inefficient for me to advocate giving up a 1st rounder for. I’d also like Conley but he’d be a salary dump only kind of acquisition due to the contract.
Rod: There are a few Jazz players I wouldn’t mind having on the Suns but I honestly don’t think I would spend a first round pick on any of them. Bojan is probably the player I’d most like the Suns to obtain but he’s 33, not a great defender and on an expiring contract... not things that I think the Suns should spend even a late 1st round pick on. I just don’t think that any of them are real needle movers that will make the Suns a significantly better team. Trade away every second rounder we have but hang on to the firsts for better options.
Q2 - What do you want to see from Deandre Ayton this season?
GuarGuar: I want to see him dribble the ball more. His off the dribble game is the the final piece to him becoming a true star. It will help this offense and team mightily if he could develop that. We need him to become more of a go to scorer. Yes that means he needs the ball more but he has to have more moves when he gets the ball. Can’t just catch and midrange fade every time.
OldAz: I have been a big defender of Ayton on this site, and part of me JUST wants to see continued progression (this is on Ayton) and increased usage (this is on the Monty and CP3). This might be in taking the next step on his post moves, handling the ball more (think faking the handoff and driving more often), playing to and through contact on offense and/or shooting the 3 more regularly. He is still relatively young and if he continues to take steps forward, he is close to being a serious monster in the NBA.
In reality, I want to see DA stop deferring so much and show some fire in demanding the ball. He is no longer a kid who should be in awe of the NBA players around him or the Superstars in the Suns back court. Channel the sentiment and fire he showed yelling at Monty in Game 7 last year and demand the ball! He is now the second highest paid player on the team, so I want him to act like it.
Cliff30: Continued growth. I don’t really care about what he improves. He’s improved significantly every year. If he continues to do that, great. It could be being more assertive with putting the ball on the floor. It could be shooting threes. It could be facilitating more. I’d be surprised if he took another significant jump on defense. But I’ve been surprised by his defensive progression since day 1. He’s very good. He’s still young. As long as he’s not stagnating that’ll be a really good sign moving forward.
Rod: With DA, the main area I’d like to see some improvement on is putting the ball on the floor more often and actually drive to the basket. I don’t think it’s beyond him but he seems very hesitant to dribble unless he’s moving around the perimeter preparing to pass or hand off the ball to someone else. Maybe that comes down to confidence if so and I hope he gets plenty of it this season.
Otherwise, I think he also needs to get the ball more often in certain situations but that’s not on him. Monty and his teammates need to place more trust in him and feed him the ball when he’s on a hot streak. I believe he’s capable of being an All-NBA player and I want to see him at least in the running for one of those All-NBA spots when the season nears its’ end.
Q3 - Quite a few fans do not think that Monty Williams can lead the Suns to a championship. What do you think?
GuarGuar: His lack of defensive adjustments in the Dallas series has really bothered me and made me concerned. That being said we were a couple made shots away from an NBA title 2 years ago. He definitely can lead us there. I hope he changes some of his philosophies this year.
OldAz: In my opinion Monty is certainly good enough to win a Championship as a Suns’ coach. Since 1982 (40 years) you have three groups of NBA Champion coaches:
1. Coaches with many titles who are recognized as playing a significant role in their team’s success:
- Phil Jackson (10), Pat Riley (5), Gregg Popovich (5), Steve Kerr (4)
2. Two time winners where people might vary in their opinion of how much credit the coach deserves (these four had some incredibly talented teams):
- KC. Jones (2), Chuck Daly (2), Rudy Tomjanovich (2), Eric Spoelstra (2)
3. Coaches who won a single championship but the players get most of (or all) the credit:
- Billy Cunningham (‘83 Sixers) with Dr. J and Moses Malone
- Larry Brown (‘04 Pistons) - Ben & Rasheed Wallace, Tayshon Prince, Chauncey Billups & Rip Hamilton (a truly balanced team and defensive juggernaut)
- Doc Rivers (‘08 Celtics) - Another balanced team including Garnett, Allen & Pearce
- Ric Carlisle (‘11 Mavs) - Dirk
- Tyrone Lue (‘16 Cavs) - Lebron
- Nick Nurse (‘19 Raptors) - Leonard
- Frank Vogel (‘20 Lakers) - Lebron again
- Mike Budenholzer (‘21 Bucks) - Giannis
Among that last group are a lot of names that were maligned as coaches even in the year that they won the title. Can anyone seriously read that last group of 8 names and say it is inconceivable that Monty is good enough to win a Championship? Even the most die-hard Monty hater would probably just split hairs and claim Monty would not have “lead” the team to a title. In that case, the same can be said about all of the coaches in that last group and the question becomes if Monty is one of the top 7-8 coaches in the last 40 years. Very few people would be willing to climb out on that limb. The real Question is if CP3, Book, and or Ayton have the capacity to climb to the level of the players associated with that last set of coaches . . . or if the Suns as a group can replicate that Pistons and Celtics magic and win as a truly balanced team. As a fan I choose to believe these are realistic possibilities.
Cliff30: I think a better tactician is needed to win. The culture needed a reset and Monty provided that in spades. But now they need a coach that can challenge them. A coach that can make in game and in series adjustments. I just haven’t seen that from Monty. Maybe he can improve in those areas. But it’s not his first coaching gig. He’s entering his 18th year as a coach, 9th as a head coach. So I don’t expect him to change his approach much. And what we’ve seen is him getting out coached in the playoffs a lot. Even in the series we won.
Rod: With enough talent, he can... but with enough talent I might be able to lead a team to a championship.
Monty’s a great motivator and a very good coach but I don’t think that he’s a coach that can take a team all the way to the Promised Land without more talent than the Suns presently have or unless some breaks go his way in the playoffs (such as injuries to key players on opposing teams). He seems hesitant to alter his tactics in-game and make adjustments or just try something different when things aren’t working well which especially hurts during postseason play.
I really like Monty but he does have some shortcomings that make me have doubts as to whether he can lead the team as is to a championship. It’s possible that he will grow and learn to be more adaptable but then he also may never do so.
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 “Which Utah Jazz player do you MOST hope that the Suns trade for?”
58.5% - Bojan Bogdanovic
23.4% - Jordan Clarkson
11.3% - Jarred Vanderbilt
01.2% - Malik Beasley
05.6% - Someone else.
A total of 354 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Do you believe Monty Williams can coach the Suns to an NBA title?
This poll is closed
Yes, I believe in Monty!
Maybe, but things would have to go just right.