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Inside the Suns - Topics: Point Book, defense, Kevin Durant

Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

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... and this week we all also want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all the Suns fans around the globe!

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - What’s your opinion of Booker’s point guard play?

GuarGuar: I’ve been very impressed with Booker at the Point. He’s been facilitating really well and our offense has been a well oiled machine since he’s returned. We are playing much faster and getting great looks most times down the floor. And he’s kept the turnovers somewhat low too recently. As I’m writing this he’s got a 2.9 Ast/TO ratio. I thinks he’s been phenomenal at the Point to start the season.

OldAz: Booker seems to find new ways to improve his game each and every year, and this drive to always get better (and self awareness of what areas he needs to improve) are part of what makes him elite. This year his distributing and decision making have taken that leap and it was necessary based on the team construction.

There are games (possibly as part of his return from injury) where he seems less explosive, but this may also partly be maturity to realize that he does not need to force his own offense and constantly take on double teams. He already looks great when the offense includes KD and other shooters, and I suspect he will get better when KD is resting as Vogel figures out the optimal pieces to play with Book and they develop some chemistry and timing. Basically, I expect him only the got more efficient as he finds the balance between distributor and scorer game by game.

Brrrberry: There’s no one else in the league that I’d rather have at PG. The game has changed and as I’ve pointed out multiple times 4 of the top 5 PG for assists in league history (Kidd, CP, Stockton, Nash) played 70+ seasons and won ONE RING. An all time great passing maestro PG doesn’t guarantee you anything other than not winning a ring apparently. Book can do it all. He’s gonna end up top 10 in assists + give us damn near 30 every night. He can get to anywhere he wants on the court and is far from selfish. Excited to watch him master that role as the year goes on.

Rod: Years ago, before the Suns signed Ricky Rubio in 2019 and they basically had no PG, here were fans calling for the Suns to just let Book play point. He wasn’t ready for it back then but after a year playing with Ricky and then three years playing with CP3, he absorbed everything they could teach him about PG play and he’s showing he’s ready for it now. Booker is presently 3rd in the NBA in points created off assists with 23.8 per game while still averaging 28.7 ppg himself. I think he’s just going to continue to get better at playing point as the season goes on the the team continues to develop chemistry.

Q2 - The Suns’ defense is currently (after 13 games) 20th in the NBA. Are you concerned as to whether it can improve over time?

GuarGuar: Honestly I’m a little surprised at our defense to start this season. I thought we were going to be a borderline top 10 defense this year. We definitely have things to tighten up if we are going to win a championship. I do like how we’ve been double teaming other teams stars though. That’s been a breath of fresh air after watching Monty play drop coverage against every star the past few years. I have faith we can still right the ship defensively.

OldAz: I do expect it to improve some, but before the season I had set the bar at 20+ games and that they would only play really good defense in stretches so that they had a feel for what is needed come playoff time. Also, I think that improvement will depend on what defensive metrics you like to look at.

When they are playing well, this team plays fast which equals more possessions and thus more total points. While they may still give up points, I think the improvement will be seen in more steals, blocks and forced turnovers as they put massive pressure on other teams to keep pace and as they settle into more stable rotations. My 20 game prediction will also have to be extended with all the early games missed by Book and until Beal starts getting integrated. We may not really see those stretches of good defense I was looking for until after the All Star break.

Brrrberry: It’ll improve and Vogel has proven he can coach on that end. This team was built to score but we’ve got plenty of guys that can buckle down and get a stop here and there come playoff time. This roster is built to compete at the highest levels and if it’s healthy, they’ll be solid at all parts of the game, especially when they need to be.

Rod: I am concerned about the defense. In the Suns’ last 4 games (vs Minnesota, Utah x2 & Portland), they haven’t played at that season average of 20th and have ranked 25th defense in the NBA during that period. The saving grace has been that they’ve also had the league’s best offense during that time, an offense so very good that it dragged their net rank all the way up to 5th.

We know Book isn’t a bad defender but his return seems to have thrown things out of whack defensively and necessitated rotation adjustments. We’ve seen these adjustments over that 4 game stretch and they have helped but D is going to continue to be a work in progress for the Suns for a while it seems.

Early on their defensive rank was better but their offense suffered (mostly due to Book and Beal missing many games). Now they’re essentially relying on out scoring their opponents but we still get glimpses of very good defense that will hopefully become more consistent as the season progresses. We could see this defensive drop again when Beal finally recovers and also returns to the court... but I hope not.

Q3 - 35 year old Kevin Durant is 3rd in scoring (31.4 ppg) in the NBA but also 3rd in minutes per game (37.1). Your thoughts on this?

GuarGuar: I’d like to see his minutes come down a tick, but the scoring he’s been doing is not a surprise at all. He’s one of the most talented scorers of all time so it’s no shocker when you tell me he’s top 3 this year in ppg. Everybody is going to eat in this offense. We are a high scoring and very fast paced team when Booker plays. Wouldn’t shock me if Book and KD both averaged 30 ppg this year. But having KD on your team is extremely fun to watch. He’s incredibly gifted.

OldAz: I had my worries late last year and early this year (preseason and the first couple games) that what the Suns got was a diminished KD as age started to catch up with him. I am so glad to be wrong here and KD is still a freak of nature. Really the one relative weakness in his game is when he is forced to be the primary ball handler and he can be turned over quite a bit. Even with this, KD has been his legendary self and a model of efficiency even when Book has not been available.

With Book back, KD has been able to pace himself more, dominate more 1:1 coverage, and simply decide when to “rest on the floor” and when to take over. What’s amazing is how effortless it looks for him since Book came back.

While I was concerned about overuse and him potentially breaking down when Book was out, what he has been doing over the last week or so and his level of scoring and efficiency looks very sustainable over the long haul. I am really not overly worried with the minutes except when he was the only one of the big three available and was absorbing so much contact all game long.

Brrrberry: KD is shoveling crow down so many peoples throats right now. I heard so many inexplicably dumb things from people the first few games of the year. 31/7/6 on 54/51/88 (soon to be above 90) then he’s adding in a steal and a block each night. I don’t know what his true shooting % is but it’s absurdly high and we’re lucky he’s a Sun. His fame is going to age extremely well over the next few years so we’re bonafide contenders so long as him and Book are healthy.

Rod: It makes me nervous. It’s great that KD is playing so well but even a minor injury that would sideline him for a few games would create an offensive hole that I really don’t that the rest of the team could come close to filling regularly, especially with Beal still out. This team still hasn’t developed the chemistry it needs to adequately survive not having at least one of it’s star players on the court at all times.

KD is KD and not one that wants to miss a chance to play though so I think Vogel and the coaching staff might be in for a fight if they suggest he ‘rests’ more. Hopefully they will soon get to the point where they can at least cut back on his MPG average and more importantly (IMO) cut back on the energy/effort he needs to expend on the court night after night for the team to be successful. Book’s return already seems to have had some effect on that second part plus team chemistry has improved a bit too which helps.

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 long before the Suns are back above .500?

52% - They’ll do it in the next 2 games against Utah!

29% - It’ll take 3-5 more games.

16% - 5 to 10 games at least.

03% - They’re cursed and will never make it back above .500.

A total of 189 votes were cast.


Suns Trivia

Devin Booker has scored 172 points through his first six games this season, the fourth-most points in franchise history through the first six games. The best was done by Charlie Scott who scored 185 in his 1st six games in 1972-73, then comes Booker’s 176 scored last season and Charles Barkley’s 174 points to open the 1993-94 season. The only other time a Suns player scored 170+ points in through their first six games of a season was in 1978-79 when Walter Davis scored 170. Although KD is leading the Suns in scoring, his point total for the first six games this season was 168, falling just 2 points short of 170.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Should Chimezie Metu be getting more minutes?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Yes.
    (161 votes)
  • 18%
    No.
    (37 votes)
198 votes total Vote Now

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