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. This week we welcome frequent BSotS commenter Brrrberry to the Fantable!
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - What do you see as the pluses and minuses of the Suns’ trade for Bradley Beal?
- Their top 3 (or 4) just got 8 years younger.
- Beal will be far better as an off ball threat than CP3 was this last season and while he is not the Point “god” he is still decent on the ball.
- Couple good young players for the back end of the roster that are closer to having Bird rights if they develop well.
- Very interchangeable players (5th “starter” can be any of 4 positions - though my preference is PF).
- 4 large (tradable) salary slots filled for future purposes when the CBA makes that hard to create naturally (some will call this a negative, but they would be wrong IMO).
Many more items I don’t have room to mention.
- Potential for injury to derail the season (this is true of any team but I am really struggling to come up with something here.
- No place for a natural PG? (I am really reaching here)
I refuse to list lack of depth or the team being too “top heavy” as a negative here. There will be good players willing to play on the vets minimum for Phoenix, and their 5th starter when healthy last year was Okogie or Craig for most of the season. Playoff rosters normally only run 8 deep and the Suns’ top 4 match up well with anyone (when healthy).
Dan-Fly: I think Brad will fit in nicely with KD and Book, he has the ability to get his own shot, and has distributed some. He plays defense, though not known for it I think in a team scheme he can hold his own. We can count on his scoring above everything else though and he’s a high character person with a good attitude. He’s going to have no problem fitting in whatever the plan Frank puts in place.
Brrrberry: The Wizards reportedly had interest from the Suns, Bucks, Kings and Miami. Beal whittled that list down to 2, Phoenix and Miami. He received a pitch from his two finalists and allegedly decided that he’d only waive his NTC if he was going to the Suns. The Suns are 100% now a destination franchise. This bodes well for the future, as great players undoubtedly want to be here in Phoenix.
The obvious plus on the court is that we have three, 3 level playmakers that are good for 25+ on any given night. Floor spacing should be excellent as all 3 of them can operate at an elite level from anywhere on the court. The number of open looks having 3 guys of their ilk will create, should be extraordinary. I’d expect offensive efficiency to be elite. Come gm 6, we didn’t have the firepower to hang with Denver on offense, now we do.
Needless to say, the financial commitments we have to our top 3 (or 4) players and whatever ramifications that has on future years with the new CBA is the potential con. The Suns seem to think there’s a way they can “blow right through” the second tax apron so perhaps the limitations won’t be what they appear.
Rod: First, the pluses. The Suns now have 3 top-notch scorers that can get buckets in a variety of ways. Even though Beal is about to turn 30, the team got younger by trading CP3 for him. I expect that the Suns’ offense will be more up-tempo this season which will help the offense by getting down the court faster which give the other team’s defense less time to get set. CP3 loved walking the ball down the court which led to that a lot of the time.
The minuses... well, Beal has had some injury problems but, as Sam Cooper (@scooperhoops on Twitter) recently pointed out, some of that is a bit overblown.
‘19-20: COVID-shortened, played 57/72 games
‘20-21: COVID, played 60/72
‘21-22: Season-ending wrist surgery, misses final 32 games
‘22-23: 50/82, but shut down for final 10 games to tank
And of course it might turn out that the Suns will lament not having a true point guard to run the offense but I mostly doubt that. Trying to run a true PG with Beal, Book and KD might create even more problems defensively as it would necessitate playing Book or Beal at SF which would make the Suns a smaller team height-wise.
Q2 - Woj has described DA’s market as “lean” but the Suns are likely going to shop him around to acquire some solid rotation players to avoid having to fill the majority of their remaining roster spots with only vet minimum salaried players. Do you think it’s likely that DA gets traded anyway even if the return for him is “underwhelming”?
OldAz: Put me in the minority here as I don’t believe the premise that DA will be moved for depth pieces. Ishbia seems comfortable with the salary cost and DA is good for 18/10 with decent defensive abilities as his FLOOR. Any trade involving DA for depth pieces would have to bring back a center, and that center would need to be a decent 2 way player, and make less money in order to add other players for depth (Jock and Biz are not even close to starting caliber). In order for those depth players to be significantly better than the vet minimum options the Suns could get now it is more likely that center coming back would be a big drop off from DA, which then makes the Suns worse. Teams that have a lower cost but comparable center to DA are not agreeing to a trade here.
Others have contended that DA will be moved for Cap space only (San Antonio?) to then sign a FA center (Plumlee?) but DA can’t be moved without his approval until July 15 and by then the Beal trade has to be complete (it only works under the current CBA) so they can’t trade DA after 7/15 and actually gain any flexibility to sign a FA center (who will all have signed by then anyway). The only way I see DA moved is if DA wants to be traded. And while many, many, many couch potato mind-readers on the interwebs believe DA wants to change teams and be the main option elsewhere, he has never done or said anything to indicate this publicly. In fact, the only examples of DA showing frustration about not getting the ball more involve times when the rest of the team is struggling to score and he is not getting the ball.
When the team is scoring and winning, DA is his normal goofy fist pumping self. When Book ignores a wide open DA but makes a circus shot falling to the ground, DA is often the first one there to pick Book up and celebrate. My belief is that DA is here to stay because no team is trading a top flight cheaper of comparable ability, plus other pieces, to get DA. And the Suns are not trading DA for some depth pieces that may only be marginally better (if that) from the vet minimum players that they can sign currently.
Dan-Fly: I think it’s 50/50 that Ayton gets traded before the season starts. I see this as an investment, suppose to buy low and sell high, right? Unless a team comes up with a decent proposal I believe he’ll stay and improve his value. I think he stays, till the trade deadline, after that?
Brrrberry: I’d say the likelihood is quite strong that DA is playing elsewhere next season. After turning CP and Shamet into Beal, I’m not going to be surprised by just about anything. I read this morning that the Suns believe they have the edge to “blow right through” the second luxury tax apron.
I honestly don’t have a clue what that means or how it’s accomplished, but I REALLY like the sound of it. If part of “blowing right through” the 2nd luxury tax apron is trading Ayton, then so be it. If the trade package is underwhelming for someone that was underwhelming the last time he was on the court, that’d make sense. Whatever puts the team in the best spot to win, I’m supportive of and there’s no doubt in my mind that winning is Ishbia’s sole goal atm. All the same, I won’t be mad if we go into the season with DA in the starting lineup as we’d have the potential to be an all time great team if DA committed himself to having a career year.
Rod: I think it depends a lot on your definition of “underwhelming”. DA’s stock isn’t high right now but I don’t think it’s at rock bottom either. Shams recently said that the Suns started getting a lot of calls about DA following the Beal trade so there’s definitely interest in him. The early offers aren’t likely to be great or even very good but the Suns have all summer to wheel and deal a trade so I doubt that they will quickly jump on some early low-ball offer. And if they don’t get better as the summer goes on, I think they will just hang on to him and see if Vogel can get him to live up to some of that potential this season. The only way I can see them trading DA for a mediocre return is if DA actually demands a trade and that might not actually be motivation enough for the front office to move quickly on it.
Q3 - Do you think that the Suns will attempt to go with “Point Book” this season or try to run a less conventional style offense using a “point guard by committee” approach?
OldAz: I think they will play a lot of both of these as there is no way I see them adding a PG to the starting lineup. I personally see this being more PG by committee which includes a decent amount of “Point Book”, but also “Point Beal” and “Point Reaper”. I could even see some of JO bringing the ball up when he is the 5th player on the floor with that crew.
They will still carry a traditional PG to play 20-25 minutes a game when one of Book or BB is on the bench, but when both are on the floor it would be a mistake to force one of those into the SF role. Instead, I expect the Suns to add more size so that KD is the “small” forward with Book and BB at guard (better defensively and less wear on KD). This provides a massive front line with 3 top options that can handle and score the ball and serious mismatches on any PnR action. Personally, I would love to see Bazely develop into the PF option as he has the physical skills to be exactly what the Suns need here.
Dan-Fly: I don’t see the team playing point Book that much, it may come down to how well Payne and Jordan handle that position but obviously the experiment is on. Maybe in some circumstances you need size or defense over scoring which would swap out the point guard then you rely on the big three to handle the scoring. I just don’t see them going too far from established molds, but maybe just less of relying on one player to setup the offense. But I need to see how it works before judge. It’s a major variable for me.
Brrrberry: I’m envisioning a pseudo triangle offense type approach. Is Tex Winter or Phil Jackson interested in a consultant role? Cam Payne’s game 6 performance reinforced that he’s a weapon who isn’t afraid of the bright lights of the playoffs so I’m glad he’ll be back. Ultimately though I do think Book gets the most reps as the lead ball handler. I’ve got to hope that Kevin Young is worth the 2M that he’s going to be paid because it’s going to take a creative approach to get the most out of this embarrassment of offensive riches.
Rod: I’m leaning more toward the “point guard by committee” approach. As I mentioned in my Q1 answer, I think the Suns will play at a faster pace this season which won’t give opposing defenses as much time to get set. This should open up more easy passing/assist opportunities for whoever brings the ball downcourt.
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, “Of the following 5 players that the Suns are rumored to have interest in, which would be your top choice to obtain?”
29% - Immanuel Quickley (Knicks)
05% - Payton Pritchard (Celtics)
17% - Davion Mitchell (Kings)
24% - Monte Morris (Wizards)
26% - Gabe Vincent (Heat/FA)
A total of 819 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
The return for DA in a trade will likely be...
This poll is closed
Fair but not great.