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 - gives their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - If the doubts many have about the Suns defense become reality, do you believe they have enough offensive weapons to just out score opponents on a regular basis?
OldAz: Yes, they have so many offensive weapons. I did not expect the offensive slumps in game 1, but Bradley Beal is a star scorer who was sitting on the bench and Allen couldn’t hit a shot all game and Gordon couldn’t either for 3 quarters. Their career averages say that this will not be the norm. Instead, I expect rough stretches to be more like the 1st half on Tuesday where we are all complaining about how poorly the team is playing but then we look at the scoreboard and they have put up 60 in a half.
Brrrberry: I’ve got zero doubt that we have enough offensive firepower to simply out score the other team. That said, we don’t need to and last night proved that. The defensive shortcomings are simply not as advertised. Poor defensive teams don’t hold Golden State to 104 in their building, they just don’t. The 2nd and 4th quarter we held them to THIRTY SIX points, 18 in each frame. That’s ELITE defense. Someone who’s better at researching statistics than me, please determine when was the last time a team held Golden State to 18 points in two quarters in their building, in the same game. It’s got to be an exceedingly rare occurrence.
Rod: If the Big 3 are all healthy and playing my believe it’s possible. If not, they’re still going to have trouble on some nights if the team D is substandard. They’re also going to need more from the bench than they got Tuesday night. Despite being up by 15 at the half, the bench contributed only 9 points in the 1st half (which they thankfully doubled in the 2nd half) and must do better than that if the Suns are going to have to rely mostly on scoring to win games.
With that said, the Suns’ defense against the Warriors looked pretty good so hopefully they won’t have to rely on scoring alone to win games.
Q2 - Were Ish Wainright and Keon Johnson the right guys to waive to get the Suns’ roster down to the NBA size limit?
OldAz: No wrong answers here. I like the attempt to cut Ish and then re-sign him on a 2-way but kudos to him for getting a chance on a regular contact. After that, choosing between Keon and Bol seems like a waste of energy to debate. Whoever got that last spot will likely not be here by the end of the season considering the trade exceptions or other trade possibilities and they are never going to see the floor anyway. Heck, Metu and KBD didn’t even see the floor in game 1 so Bol has no chance to play.
Brrrberry: Absolute no brainer IMO. I wish them the best.
Rod: Yes on Keon Johnson and probably on Ish Wainright. I would have liked to actually see Ish on the court during preseason before making that cut because I have my doubts that keeping Bol Bol was actually a good idea. Bol has more talent but seems to just be lost on the court and makes bad decisions. Ish always at least seemed to play smart and within the team concept, never trying to do too much or making many mistakes.
Keon just never seemed to play as part of the team and was always hunting for his own points on offense. Not the kind of player the Suns need, especially since he wasn’t that good at putting the ball in the basket.
Q3 - Your thoughts following the Suns/Warriors game?
OldAz: So many thoughts. . .
Booker is the clear top 5 player in the league and showed his complete game. Loved the fact that down the stretch he won the game by setting up teammates instead of forcing his own shots: passes to Okogie and Gordon for 3 and then a layup to Nurk. Last 8 points in a close game were everything we have wanted from Booker and more.
Have no idea who these experts are that think KD is still a top 7 player in the league. He is obviously still good, but age is catching up to him. I am sure he will play better than he has, but he really should have been rated in that next tier of players.
Nurkic is so key to what this team does. I was watching both the DBacks and the Suns early, and it seemed every time I looked over Nurk was pulling down a rebound or making a key play on offense. If they are going to play with no true PG then Nurk is a perfect fit.
Okogie bet on himself by resigning with the Suns and gambled that he would get key minutes and be able to shine. So far so good as he was clearly one of the leaders on the team. LOVE that Book trusted him to put up a 3 late and he made it.
Not overly worried about the high turnovers or the stretches where they looked bad. I expected it to be defensive struggles instead of offense, but it again reminded me of USA basketball throwing together a team in 2 weeks and then going up against teams that have played together forever.
Allen and Gordon looked really bad (Gordon finally did hit a few) but they will be fine. I think this is similar to the previous point and finding that comfort level.
Brrrberry: I think peak Devin Booker is only exceeded by Giannis and Joker at this point. The guy is such an incredible talent and I’m forever thankful he’s a Sun. I’d take him over Embiid and Tatum without a 2nd thought. The only non big I’d consider over him at full strength is Kawhi. So long as he’s healthy, we’ve got a chance to win. Nurk dominated the first half, Okogie the 2nd and we stole a win on the road in a building that’s tough to get a win.
Great start to the season, but I sure was disappointed that Beal had to sit it out. I’m chomping at the bit to see the preferred starting lineup get some games under their belt. I want to see them steamroll some good teams and really put the rest of the league on notice. It was such a breath of fresh air seeing our big man set a physical tone on both ends and our coach getting after the refs when they made a poor call.
There’s something about Vogel that just makes me feel like the team is in super capable hands. What a great night for AZ sports!
Rod: First off, they have to cut down on turnovers. 19 a night is atrocious. I believe they will get better but I hope they don’t take too long to do it.
Jusuf Nurkic IS a better fit as the Suns center. That was evident in the preseason games but this one actually counts and a 14 pt, 14 rebound performance (plus 3 assists and a block) against a contending team on their home court kind of put the icing on that cake for me.
How does it feel to have a team that actually out rebounds the competition? It feels good to me and I see the Suns’ 60-49 rebounding advantage against the Warriors as one of the reasons they managed to get the win even after that horrible 3rd quarter.
While the Suns lost the 3rd quarter badly (40-19) and went from a 15 point halftime lead to being down by 6 going into the 4th, they still found a way to win in the end. That took grit and determination. Never give up, never surrender!
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, “Who is going to win the Dan Majerle Hustle Award this year?”
41% - Josh Okogie.
53% - Jordan Goodwin.
06% - Someone else.
A total of 221 votes were cast.
During the Warriors game, Devin Booker’s 8 assists moved him past Jeff Hornacek into 6th place on the Suns’ all-time assists leaders for the Suns with 2,529 career assists. Next on the list at 5th is Jason Kidd with 3011.
The Suns’ 60 team rebounds in Tuesday’s win was only the second time in team history the Suns grabbed at least 60 rebounds in a season opener. The other was in 1970-71 when the Suns pulled down 67 in a 119-100 win against the Boston Celtics.
This week’s poll is...
In the Warriors game the Suns defense...
This poll is closed
Performed better than I expected.
Performed about how I expected.
Performed worse than I expected.