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 - Through their first 10 games the Suns are committed the 3rd most turnovers per game in the NBA (16.8). What are your thoughts on this and whether it can be corrected?
OldAz: Everyone keeps clamoring for a PG but there are just not that many teams that have a true PG any more. The biggest issues in my mind are the injuries to Book and Beal (obviously) and team chemistry, which is only solved with time.
We have been saying since the KD trade that the team was top heavy and injuries could derail the season. So far, it has simply played out that way even though the ailments have been minor. Book was always intended to be the primary ball handler and Jones constructed a team where everyone else’s strength aligned with Book in that role (spot up shooting or secondary drives when the defense is already scrambling). Book’s return against the Wolves played out exactly this way as the other pieces were able to fall back into their expected roles and the turnovers dropped as a result against a very good and aggressive defense.
Brrrberry: All the turnovers have been maddening to watch for sure, so many mindlessly poor passes probably more than I’ve ever seen. Obviously watching the team play with no offensive rhythm and all the bad decision making it’s something that none of us enjoy play out. It’s all 100% correctable and Book being on the floor solves a good majority of it. I feel like a broken record but we’ve simply gotta be patient and wait for the guys to get healthy and some reps together. When we get to that point, the turnover issue goes away.
Rod: I believe it will get better but not get “corrected” with the team as it’s presently constructed. With Book and Beal missing so many games, the Suns have been relying too much on KD as a ball handler and distributor. He can do those things but he’s no point guard, he’s a finisher. Booker and Beal aren’t ‘true’ PGs either but both are much better suited to the task of being the primary ball handler.
The more everyone plays together and gets used to each other, the more the turnovers should drop but how bad they have been turning the ball over early on has pointed out a flaw in the team’s design that is best found out now rather than later. The Suns do need a true PG for their bench, one who can step into that starting role when needed instead of trying to depend on Gordon or Allen to do it. I had hoped Goodwin could be that guy this year but that hasn’t panned out yet.
What reasonably good PG could the Suns get with their limited trade assets is the big question and one I just don’t have the answer to.
Q2 - The Suns have lost several games due to late game/2nd half collapses. Why do you think this keeps happening?
OldAz: The team is seriously top heavy and we all knew it. When 2/3 of that “Top” is on the sidelines it puts everyone in a position to do more than they should be expected to. KD has to work too hard to carry the team for 3 quarters, has to handle the ball too much against that over aggressive defense, and by the 4th quarter there isn’t much left in the tank regardless how great an aging superstar is. However, as soon as Book came back KD was able to face single coverage, rest at times while on the floor, and pick his spots to elevate his game. By the time the 4th quarter comes around KD has much more in the tank, and still has another star to share the floor with to create spacing.
This will only get better as Book can extend his minutes and when Beal is back healthy. The big 3 will be able to take turns conserving energy for 3 quarters while still keeping constant pressure on the other team, and go into the final frame with a lot of weapons and options. Expecting a team of role players on vet’s minimum contracts and 1 aging star to compete and hang with hungry NBA teams for 4 full quarters is simply unreasonable. They actually did well to win 2 of 5 with just KD and 1 of 3 with KD and a Beal who is clearly working himself back into shape.
Brrrberry: See my answer to question 1? No consistency with lineups due to injuries to our starting back court. You could tell Beal was still injured against OKC so he’s still yet to play one minute this season in actual game shape. KD looks so much more comfortable when Book is on the floor. He’s the best 7ft ball handler/scorer in history but he’s not a point or combo G. This team is going to be a beast in the 4th quarter, just gotta be patient hah.
Rod: It’s a combination of things mostly tied to a lack of team chemistry. The early season injuries to Book and Beal hurt in two ways as they are a part of the problem with developing team chemistry as well as the obvious difficulties associated with having two of your best two players sidelined for most of your games. With them out, you’re forcing role players into roles they weren’t originally meant to play and you’re depending way too much on a 35 year old KD.
Having both Book and Beal back should help keep KD fresher for the end of games because he won’t have to try to carry the team and be worn down by time the the 4th quarter arrives and let the role players slip back into their more comfortable support roles. This is a brand new team for everyone and those roles haven’t even been established yet.
Once everyone’s role is established, chemistry has been developed, and KD no longer has to try and carry the team by himself I believe these 4th quarter collapses will end.
Q3 - What’s your confidence level in the Suns being able to eventually ‘right the ship’ and play like title contenders?
OldAz: It is the same as when the KD trade was made and CP3 was moved for Beal. It is all about the injuries. If they can all stay healthy enough to get some chemistry by the playoffs and go in healthy, then they have as good of a chance as anyone. What I did not appreciate is how reliant the team is on Booker specifically to stay healthy at this point. He appears to be their only legitimate ball handler, but I think this will improve as players become more familiar with one another and they solidify their rotations. There is still a temptation to be looking for options at PG, but I really believe it is more about patience to allow the injuries to heal and to give time to develop chemistry on the team.
Brrrberry: I’m more confident in this team than I’ve ever been. KD looks every bit of a superstar, Book may be the 2nd best player in the league behind Jokic and Beal is an elite scorer when he’s healthy. All the ancillary pieces are going to flourish when they can play off all those guys on a nightly basis.
Rod: The Suns are supposed to be title contenders but haven’t been playing like it early. The two topics above detail the main reasons why but I’m still pretty confident that they can turn it all around and become dominant on the court by season’s end. It’s going to take all three of the Suns’ Big 3 staying healthy and playing together for most of the season though, not to mention playoff time. The roster might need a little tweaking during the season but there’s way too much talent on it for it not to be a contender as long as Book, Beal and KD are healthy. And once team chemistry has a chance to develop, even health issues should have a lesser impact on team performance.
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, “How worried about player injuries are you this season?”
13% - Not worried at all.
55% - Slightly worried.
32% - Very worried.
A total of 432 votes were cast.
The last time the Suns began a season with an under .500 record through 11 games was in 2018-19 when they started off 2-9. Their head coach was Igor Kokoskov and their starting five to begin the season was Isaiah Canaan, Devin Booker, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Deandre Ayton.
This week’s poll is...
How long before the Suns are back above .500?
This poll is closed
They’ll do it in the next 2 games against Utah!
It’ll take 3-5 more games.
5 to 10 games at least.
They’re cursed and will never make it back above .500.