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 your thoughts on Mikal Bridges’ recent play and how do you think Booker’s eventual return could alter it?
OldAz: Mikal has been great, and his 4th quarters have been even better. His willingness to take the clutch shot is a huge step forward and his increased confidence handling the ball greatly increases his value. He also plays incredibly in the 2 man game with DA. Bookers return could absolutely alter all this, however. Book and Mikal have to be intentional about sharing clutch opportunities when Book returns. They also have to be intentional to run offensive sets through Mikal as CP3 has done the last week or so. Otherwise, it becomes too easy to fall back into the old pattern where everyone simply looks to Book when the game is on the line.
Philip: It has been a pleasant surprise for me. I’ve long thought that Mikal’s mechanics will be a limiting factor in his offensive development (and, I still think they limit his offensive ceiling). While it would be surprising to see him average his stats over the last 10 games (23 points on 48/39/93 splits) for an entire season, the clear offensive leap bodes well for the playoffs.
Suns fans are likely conditioned to expect Devin Booker and Chris Paul to stagger their minutes in the playoffs. If Mikal can continue his offensive playmaking as he is now, it opens up the opportunity for more minutes with Book and CP on the court together, which can be a deadly combination.
All that said, the reality is that his scoring will likely dip when Book comes back, and that’s perfectly fine.
Rod: Mikal has stepped up and evolved into a semi-alpha offensive player which I love but also think makes him best suited to playing with Booker than without him. I don’t doubt that his shot attempts will drop a bit when Book returns but Mikal’s efficiency might actually increase some with opponents’ defenses having even more pressure put on them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see CP3 take a bit of a step back when Book returns to ensure that Mikal doesn’t and be a little more choosey about his own offensive contributions. We’ll be a better team the less we have to rely on CP3’s scoring nightly and I believe Mikal’s progress will make that possible.
Q2 - No one expected much from Torrey Craig before the season began. How do you grade him so far so far this season?
OldAz: Torrey has been OK, but he is way overused. When Torrey can focus on bringing energy and rebounding, he is an impactful piece off the bench. When the team is counting on him for major minutes and as a scoring threat he is not going to be up to that task on most nights. Hopefully, as Cam gets back to 100% and Book returns, and something happens at the trade deadline with Crowder, then Craig can settle back in to 15 minute a game “energizer” role.
Philip: Torrey has been exactly what the Suns wanted and needed him to be this season. For part of Cam Johnson’s absence, I soured on Torrey’s game, but that was never fair. He isn’t Cam. He shouldn’t be expected to consistently attack off the dribble or finish plays isolating his defender. Instead, he should be expected to shoot well, rebound well, and bring energy.
He has done all three, and they will likely be even more noticeable and valuable when he comes off the bench in the playoffs.
Rod: While Torrey still wouldn’t be my choice as a starter, he’s filled in admirably in that role and has helped a great deal on both ends of the court to fill in while so many other players have been out with injuries. As much as some have wanted the Suns to make Jae Crowder actually play since he’s still getting paid, in many ways Craig has actually played about as well as Crowder did last season.
His shooting percentages are better (although on slightly lower volume) and his rebounding has been better (especially when it comes to offensive rebounds). He’s not quite the defender Crowder was last year but at least he’s played with energy and effort, has missed only 3 games and is 3rd in total minutes played this season. He hasn’t been spectacular but he’s been very solid which gets him high marks from me as a role player on this team.
Q3 - In Dave King’s recent interview with James Jones, Jones said “shooting” when asked what skillset he wants to add to the team the most at the deadline and that he wants to add someone willing to take tough shots. Do you agree with this being the priority?
OldAz: Sure. The extra component was not just someone who is a shooter, but someone who can get their shot off when others can’t. Currently, the Suns struggle when defenses are long and aggressive and the Suns go for stretches where they don’t get any good shots off. Having another shooter who can create offense is vitally important. I still think a true PF or at least a Crowder replacement is more important, but there may not really be any options like that available. In the absence of that, getting more shooting never hurts.
Philip: I’m fine with that as long as the ‘able and willing shooting’ is paired with size. The longer this season progresses, the more nervous I get about the Suns’ lack of size and physicality, which is a reason I’m not particularly excited about the possibility of the Suns trading DA.
Rod: I agree with Jones but I also think that shooting needs to come in at least a 6’8”/6’9” package that can also play at least respectable team defense. The Suns do need people that aren’t afraid to take shots though. I too often see some players hesitate even when wide open, look for someone else to pass to and then wind up taking the shot anyway but only after a defender has started to close in on them. Indecision and/or hesitation can often kill an offensive possession as quickly as a turnover.
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, “Are your hopes for the Suns making a significant trade higher now that the new owner will take over before the trade deadline?”
86% - Yes.
14% - No.
A total of 606 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
At the trade deadline I think the Suns will...
This poll is closed
Make a a home run trade.
Make a significant but not great trade.
Make a break even trade.
Wind up bunting and do nothing significant.