Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Each week the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders - give their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - After 2 preseason games, what are your early impressions of the team as a whole?
GuarGuar: I’ve been very impressed with our depth pieces thus far. We look much deeper than last year and that is very exciting. Even guys like Metu have been surprisingly solid and that makes me feel a bit better about our big man depth. The big 3 look like the big 3, and I love the pace we are playing with. Should be a very fun season.
OldAz: This team is loaded with offensive firepower. We knew that was true on paper, but seeing it on the court is a sight to behold. Waves of shooters just keep coming and if they can be even halfway decent on defense, the Suns are going to blow the doors off a lot of teams this season. On an individual level, almost everyone has been as advertised and it encourages me that the Suns will have a very deep and high powered team.
Rod: The Suns have 9 players shooting at 40% or above from three (admittedly two - Beal & Bol - have each only attempted and made one 3-pointer) and a 10th (Watanabe) at 36.4%. But they’re not just deadly from long range, no this team has plenty of guys that can score from multiple spots on the floor. In their 1st game with the big 3 playing they not only looked like an offensive powerhouse, they looked very comfortable together on the court and made it look relatively easy to get buckets whenever they wanted one.
Defensively there are still some kinks to work out but I’ve read quotes from some of the players saying that’s mostly due to guys just getting used to playing in Vogel’s new system. As Josh Okogie put it, it’s a process of “... breaking the old habits and getting used to the new ones.” I believe that will steadily improve as the season goes on and everyone becomes more comfortable with the new system and their new teammates.
Q2 - Who has surprised you (positively or negatively) with their play?
GuarGuar: I’ve been impressed with Metu as the biggest surprise for me. He looks pretty competent, which is very nice to have for your 3rd string center. Negatively, Bol still looks like a deer in the headlights. The raw talent is there, but there’s just so much he needs to reel in to be a good NBA player.
OldAz: I was hoping to see the Suns add some length and athleticism as this has been an area the team has struggled in historically. To this end I was really excited to see KBD and hoped he would be the solution as the 5th starter. Unfortunately, he played poorly in game #1 but recovered and did some nice things against Denver. It is obviously too early to write him off but so far he has not lived up to my high hopes and appears to be a long way from becoming that 5th starter. On the other end, Metu has looked great and far exceeded my expectations with his length, athleticism and improved jumper. If he continues, he might fulfill my hope that the Suns actually have that longer athletic forward that allows KD to slide over to the small forward position more often.
Additionally, Okogie has impressed me. While he is basically the same player we saw last year, he has continued to work on his shot and adds a dose of that athleticism (and a different type of length).
Rod: Chimezie Metu stands out as the most positive surprise to me. I was expecting him to pretty much be a deep depth bench player but he has more skills than I was led to believe. He seemed smart, active and agile on D and I had no idea he could shoot so well from 3 (57.1% on 7 attempts). He has vaulted ahead of KBD - who has been a bit of a disappointment so far - in my personal depth chart.
KBD has alternately pleased and then disappointed me on the court. I don’t know why but he’s sometimes seemed a little lost and hesitant. The fact that he doesn’t always look that way gives me hope that he will eventually shrug that off and play with more consistency. His defense has been off (115.7 DRtg, 4th lowest on the team) but his rebounding has been solid though (5.0 rpg, tied for 1st with Eubanks).
Shout out to Josh Okogie here too because he just looks a lot less hesitant on offense this year. Last year his first instinct seemed to be to look for someone to pass the ball to on offense even if he was wide open. He looks more comfortable and confident on that end now. Josh has the 4th highest eFG% (.656) and PER (24.0) on the team so far!
I could talk about other players here but I’ve been seeing pretty much what I expected from everyone else so far.
Q3 - What are your thoughts on the minutes Vogel is playing Book, Beal and KD in the preseason games?
GuarGuar: I expect the Big 3 to play more in these next couple preseason games coming up. I totally get resting them during these games and having them go hard back at practice. I trust the staff making the best decision for these guys. It’s a long grind of a season, and arguably the most important thing will be staying healthy. That first quarter in Detroit got a big wow from me watching those 3 play together. As a fan I want to see them more this preseason, but I totally get it if they don’t.
OldAz: I am not a fan of how teams limit minutes in preseason, or sit players out when they need to build up wind and develop chemistry. Most of these players are basketball junkies and spend more time on the court in the Summer than they do in preseason games. To me this makes no sense as these games give an opportunity to experiment and practice against actual opponents, which has to be better than what can be accomplished in practice playing against the same players all the time. On the other hand, I am a couch jockey that has zero offers to coach an NBA team, so what the heck do I know.
Rod: On an emotional level, I was disappointed that Vogel sat all three for game 2 but it was a fairly rational decision considering how well they played - and played together - in game 1. 13-15 minutes per game in preseason seems about right for the big 3 guys, maybe around 20 minutes tops but anything over that wouldn’t be wise as they’ll all be getting plenty of court time when the regular season begins.
The more reps they get under actual game conditions before the regular season games begin are of course a plus and I really don’t think actually sitting them all out for any of the rest of the preseason games is a great idea. During the Denver game, the coaches got a really good extended look at everyone else though which I think may have been more important to them than getting the big 3 some “rest”.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Last Week’s poll results
Last week’s question was, “Is Jusuf Nurkic a “better fit” at center for the Suns?”
59.6% - Yes.
10.5% - No.
29.9% - Undecided but I can’t wait to find out.
A total of 418 votes were cast.
Two-way contract player Saben Lee is presently leading the Suns in assists (6.5) and minutes per game (28.6) during the preseason.
This week’s poll is...
Do you approve of Vogel resting Book, Beal and KD in the Denver game?
This poll is closed