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 - What are the good points (if you think there are any) of Beal and Booker sitting for games early in the season?
OldAz: This became a lot more difficult to answer after Tuesday’s loss to the Spurs. However, I still think there are some positives. First, sons fans have finally gotten to see how incredible Kevin Durant is. Up until now he really has not shown this level in a Suns uniform, and has deferred to Booker. If this time expedites the process to having both Booker and KD playing as the superstars, they are, then it will be a huge benefit in the long run.
Secondly, when all 3 stars are healthy, there are going to be stretches in every game where KD plays with a mostly bench lineup. This will help spread out their minutes and keep the pressure on opponents. This time when Booker and Beal are out provides Vogel with significant opportunities to experiment and find out what works best. One of the things I appreciate is that Vogel to this point has tried a number of different combinations and is not simply following a script. As long as this time does not burn out KD or lead to a significant injury for him I believe these two positives will significantly outweigh any negative.
Brrrberry: It’s simply a minutes distribution thing. Guys further down the rotation are getting more minutes than they otherwise would and any extra reps are going to be helpful.
It’s crazy how deep this team is, we’ve been rolling out 10 guys and that’s without Book/Beal suiting up. I tend to think KBD and Metu are solid enough players that they’d be in the rotation and just about any team in the league. At the moment, they are #12 and #13 in the rotation. Then we’ll have D Lee available at some point. That’s 14 guys that I feel comfortable calling legitimate NBA rotation guys. Vogel really stepped into the job of a lifetime.
I’m loving what I’m seeing out of Goodwin (and Okogie). It’s crazy with that Washington trade we got the 1st and 3rd best players in the trade. Speaking of that trade there was some comments on the Suns IG page yesterday that really had me spooked, along the lines of “It’s going to hit like a truck when the news hits that Beal is out for the season needing back surgery”. With all the back luck we’ve had over the years I could envision the feeling clear as day. PRAY FOR BEAL!!!!
Rod: First, I don’t think either Book’s or Beal’s injuries are serious and Vogel is trying to be cautious with them to make sure they don’t turn into something more serious by playing them when they’re not 100%.
The big plus has to be the role players getting important minutes early in the season. They can’t be content to sit back and let the big 3 carry most of the weight and Vogel get the opportunity to see who he can count on most when he needs them to step up. Better to find that out early on than later. It’s also getting everyone the opportunity to play with different lineups outside what will eventually be the normal player rotation once Book and Beal return. I think it also helps the coaches learn just how much they can count on each role player in the future and in which circumstances they are best utilized.
And last but certainly not least, the stretches of time the KD sat for rest accented the need to have at least one of the Big 3 on the court at all times whenever the game is even slightly in doubt. The Suns have a good but not great bench that will often have a difficult time without at least one of the teams alpha scorers on the court with them.
Q2 - Are you surprised that through the first 3 games Vogel has played Chimezie Metu and Keita Bates-Diop only during “garbage time” in the Utah game?
OldAz: Absolutely I am surprised. By the end of the preseason both looked like very valuable rotational pieces with additional length and a fairly reliable shot as well. I see that so far Vogel has prioritized shooting and guard pressure in the lineup over the length that Metu and KBD can provide. However, against the Lakers and Spurs the overall length of the opponent really seemed to be an issue. Perhaps if that trend continues Metu and KBD will start to chip away at some of the minutes currently going to Little. However, I don’t see those players taking minutes away from Okogie or Goodwin based on their defensive pressure and not from Gordon or Allen once Book and Beal return and compress those minutes anyway. In the end, we always knew these bench players would be fighting for scarce minutes.
Brrrberry: Not at all, we took out the Warriors on the road, took a tough L in LA and then smashed Utah in the home opener. Those guys time will come and it’s apparently on them to carve out a consistent role. I trust Vogel has the pulse of the roster as best he possibly could currently and the results speak for themselves. Vogel wants to win so he’s going to put the guys in that he thinks give us the best chance of that happening. We’ve got a b2b at home against the Spurs so we need to take care of business and go into the Sixers game 4-1. I like our early season schedule quite a bit, not too tough and gives the guys a chance to win some games and find their footing at the same time.
Rod: I was surprised that neither of them got meaningful minutes in any of the games. I’m sure Vogel want’s to stick to a 9-10 man rotation in close games but with both Book and Beal out for the LAL and Jazz games I was surprised that neither of them got minutes before the Jazz game turned into a blowout. KBD didn’t look as good as I expected in preseason though, Metu looked a lot better than I expected and I thought one or the other would get some minutes when Durant went to the bench for some rest but that hasn’t been the case.
It seems that the minutes I thought would go to one of them have been going to Nassir Little who didn’t really impress me during the preseason games but obviously did impress Vogel. Both Little and Yuta Watanabe (with defensive ratings of 97.6 and 94.0 respectively) have been pleasant surprises defensively though which could partially explain KBD’s and Metu’s lack of minutes. Little’s 7’2” wingspan also helps make up for the fact that both KBD and Metu are 3 & 4 inches taller than him. Both only out weigh him by less than 10 pounds so Little is not too undersized in comparison and may be a more versatile defender when switches are required.
Q3 - Your thoughts on the Ring of Honor ceremony during halftime of the Suns/Jazz game?
OldAz: My first thought was that it made me feel old since I can remember most of those players in their prime and it seems like yesterday. My other thought was how much Matt Ishbia just “gets it”. He wants so much to be a part of the franchise and legacy as opposed to simply being an NBA owner. Connecting with the former players and teams history is such a great way to ingratiate himself to the fan base and bring together the entire community. It was really well done.
Brrrberry: It was a beautiful thing, all of it! Ishbia has been a Godsend. My biggest qualm with Sarver is that he, inexplicably, didn’t seem to understand that you have to spend money to make money. It’s all too clear that Ishbia lives by that moniker. He’s everything a sports fan could hope for in an owner and I’m elated for all the past Suns legends to be in the building a whole lot more. There’s no doubt that having past legends in the building brings out something in the current players.
Rod: It was a great ceremony and I loved seeing so many of my old favorite players back... and smiling! Since it was done during halftime, I can understand why it wasn’t longer but I wish it could have been (with more of the honorees getting a chance to speak) and that was the only slight negative I can think of. The banners are great and needed to be back hanging from the rafters. Ishbia has embraced not only the team and the city but their history as well, something I think was at best only an afterthought with Sarver (probably because he didn’t want fans thinking too much about the past and comparing previous success to his failures).
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, “In the Warriors game the Suns defense...”
32.3% - Performed better than I expected.
62.3% - Performed about how I expected.
05.4% - Performed worse than I expected.
A total of 167 votes were cast.
In Tuesday’s Suns/Spurs game, the Suns made a season-high 18 three-pointer shots. It was the 32nd time in franchise history that the team has made at least 18 threes and only the fourth time in those 32 instances that Phoenix did not win with 18+ triples.
Jusuf Nurkic’s 4.0 assists per game average is 3rd best for the Suns this season.
Josh Okogie is leading the team in offensive rebounds per game with 2.3 and is the only Suns player to average more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds (1.8 per game).
Although he has only played in 1 of the Suns 4 games, Devin Booker is 7th on the team in both total assists and points scored this season with 8 and 32.
This week’s poll is...
With Booker and Beal missing so many games being 2-2 is...
This poll is closed
Still not acceptable.
Not good but understandable.
Better than I expected.