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
Author’s Note: All questions were asked before the Suns’ 4th preseason game was played.
Q1 - The Suns are presently 6th in three-point percentage in the preseason (2nd among teams that have played at least 3 games) at 38.8%. Do you think this percentage will hold, drop or rise during the regular season?
GuarGuar: I think we should be top 10 in 3 point percentage this year. We will generate a ton of wide open 3s, maybe the most in the league. KD, Beal, Book, Yuta, EG, Grayson are all going to have great shooting years in my opinion. Many players will shoot the most wide open threes they ever had in their careers.
OldAz: I think it will go up and the Suns will possibly lead the league in 3 point percentage. There will be so many open looks for whomever is on the floor and the team has amassed so many good shooters that I expect the three to be a massive weapon both in quantity and % made.
Brrrberry: 38.8% is right about where I’d expect them to land this year. Iirc they were 37.2% last year so that’s a fairly significant bump in efficiency but we’ve got significantly better personnel (i.e shooters) atm than we did last year. If I thought they were going to be in the bottom half of the league with attempts like they were last year, I’d even be inclined to put them close to 40% but I expect them to rain a significantly higher % of 3s than a Suns team ever has. James Jones has been clear since the day he took over as GM that he was going to prioritize shooting and he’s put together a roster this year that delivers on that in spades. I’m expecting some record breaking numbers.
Rod: I think it will continue to be good and maybe even go up in the regular season because, unlike preseason games, the Suns will have their best players/shooters on the court the majority of the time. Guys like Keon Johnson (14.3%), Saben Lee (33.3%) and Nassir Little (33.3%) won’t have nearly as many opportunities to shoot those shots and a guy like Eric Gordon - whose preseason 3-pt percentage (33.3%) is below average now because of a bad shooting night against Detroit (0-4 from three but 4-8/50% in the following two games) - will undoubtedly average out closer to his career average of 37.1% once he gets into sync.
Q2 - Despite having increased point guard duties, Devin Booker has had only 1 turnover in the two preseason games he’s played in and his assist to turnover ratio is 7.0 (was 2.02 in 2022-23 regular season). What are your thoughts on this?
GuarGuar: A 7.0 ast/to ratio is due for some regression, but there’s no doubt Devin is more than capable of handling point guard duties. Only the stans of our previous point guards (CP3, Rubio) failed to see the value of Point Book. He’s an extremely gifted player at generating great looks for himself and others. He has as dive gravity and that will open up the floor for all of his teammates. He’s great at making the right reads and executing. And he’s learned now from one of the best point guards of all time in Chris Paul.
OldAz: I think we are going to be asking this question (and overanalyzing the results) all year long. He will have good stretches and bad, but it probably won’t matter much with all the firepower this team seems to have. Playing Beal and Book together is just too much firepower at guard for most teams to deal with.
That being said, Book didn’t look so good (as a PG) on Monday in the first half against the Blazers. He was an awesome offensive weapon with a 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting, but he was handling the ball a lot and had some bad turnovers. One of the three was really not on him, as he caught a bad pass while going out of bounds and couldn’t do much with it. The other two I cringed a bit when I saw them (one bad pass and once he just got his pocket picked if I recall correctly).
Brrrberry: Until he got to share the court with KD with 8 games left last year, Book had never had a teammate that was a consistent 20 ppg scorer. Really it was a fatal roster flaw of the last couple seasons. We just didn’t have enough juice offensively. The amount of resources that allowed other teams to allocate towards him was significant.
What happened in those final 8 games and the playoffs? Well, he averaged 30+ on crazy efficiency with around 7 assists. 7:1 is definitely an anomaly and I think he’ll turn the ball over plenty this year, and probably end up with around a 2.5:1 ratio. If he was averaging 14 ppg on league average efficiency that’d be one thing, but he’s getting close to being a 30ppg guy. You just won’t find a combo guard whose 25 ppg+ and also top 10 in ast/to ratio. I’d be surprised if there’s ever been a season in league history where a player went for 25 ppg with even a 3:1 ratio.
I won’t be surprised if we look back at his career when it’s all done if 2023/24 was his “prime” season so wherever he ends up at, altogether it’s going to be exceedingly impressive.
Rod: I would love to be able to say that I thought it would continue but I highly doubt it. Not at that rate anyway. I do think it’s very possible that Book’s turnovers will be lessened this season as he won’t be the only guy bringing the ball downcourt and having two other great shooting stars - plus some great shooting role players - on the court with him will cut down on the times he gets double-teamed which is often when he gets into trouble and has turnovers.
Q3 - Forget about offense. Which five Suns players would you want on the court if all you wanted was defense?
GuarGuar: If I wanted all defense:
I think that would be a suffocating defensive group. Maybe we will see it at some point this season.
OldAz: It’s still to early for me to be definitive on all 5, but any defensive lineup absolutely contains Goodwin and Okogie. At the point of attack, those two are a nightmare for the opposing offense. I am not all that impressed with our centers (Nurkic and Eubanks are just OK on defense) but I would really want some length on the floor, so my defensive lineup includes KD at this point.
The final two spots are difficult, because the Suns have a lot of similar players who work hard on D like Grayson Allen, Eubanks, or Yuta, but are not exactly stoppers. I actually think Booker is underrated in this area and does a good job on ball as well as in being in the right spot. He might get one of the final two spots if the opponent is smaller, but I would probably go with more length playing Metu and KBD together, especially if they continue to play well together like they did on Monday night. KD, KBD, & Metu would provide a massive front line both in height and wingspan, paired with the on ball pressure of Okogie and Goodwin. That would be a pretty good defense against most any team.
Brrrberry: Goodwin, Book, Okogie, Durant, Eubanks -- actually that’s a pretty nasty lineup I just put together right there, definitely a group I want to see on the floor together.
Rod: Jordan Goodwin, Grayson Allen, Josh Okogie, Kevin Durant and Drew Eubanks. The first four would be on my list vs just about anyone but in certain situations I might keep Nurkic in over Eubanks when a little more bulk/muscle might be needed over agility/quickness. With KD and Allen in that lineup, the Suns would also have some offensive firepower on the court.
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, “Do you approve of Vogel resting Book, Beal and KD in the Denver game?”
76% - Yes.
24% - No.
A total of 260 votes were cast.
Kevin Durant’s 26,892 career points total ranks 13th on the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorers list. If he scores at his average points per season total this year (1,793) he will leap past Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Carmelo Anthony and Shaquille O’Neal to 8th on that list.
Only seven players in the NBA averaged 23+ points and 5+ assists on 49+ FG% and 35+ 3-pt FG% last season. Three of those seven were Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant.
This week’s poll is...
Who is going to win the Dan Majerle Hustle Award this year?
This poll is closed