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’s your overall grade for the Suns’ free agent acquisitions so far?
OldAz: A+. Was probably an A even before the Gordon signing. Anyone who says less than an A is being intellectually dishonest and likely expressing their dislike for the top heavy strategy of having 4 big contracts and 3 all time great level players. The Suns knew that they were going to be shopping in the bargain aisles, so check this link (https://www.spotrac.com/nba/free-agents/) and sort the list of FA signings by average annual value.
I was hard pressed to find other minimum signings better than what the Suns got, and the Suns usually got the younger option with more upside. There are a few possibilities at Center, but with the Suns keeping DA there are limited minutes for a young backup C. Gordon, Yuta, Diop, Okogie, Eubanks is a pretty great haul and leaves Lee, Metu, and Ish playing garbage time. I even looked over the unsigned players and PJ Washington would be nice, but likely wants more money and more minutes than what the Suns could offer. Better to lock down a good backup in Eubanks than hold out to see who does not get bigger money.
Dan-Fly: My grade = A+. First,they only had the league minimum to work with. Second, the quality and quantity of players Third, they filled specific known needs, and, though we didn’t know it he time, they were about to lose Jock and extended him the QO just in case but had a replacement ready with Eubanks and acted quickly. They stocked up on long defensive wings for 3 and D. Which also replaced TC’s spot. Along with Yuta-Diop—Metu, and Todd plus Carrara, there just wasn’t minutes left for him. I don’t know if they didn’t want him back but there is no room at the inn now anyway.
The Eric Gordon signing was also amazing. We now have three of the best shooting guards on the planet plus D. Lee. Resigning Payne gives us two point guards, plus the combos for play making. Plus maybe another to come, Summer league is about to start and we can have 20 players in camp. I think this was a brilliant offseason even if we are done.
Brrrberry: A+ ---- flash back a few weeks ago and there was a LOT of hand wringing here over the roster and how hamstrung we were due to the lack of cap space. On the surface it looked quite dire and I suppose it was. As we sit today, our bench is quite a few levels improved compared to what we went into last season with and I think the best case scenario is we have a top 10 bench league wide. Im betting on one of Yuta or KBD having a career year and I wouldn’t be surprised if they both do. With Denver losing Brown (and Green), I think we’re the most dangerous team in the West currently. Props to JJ, Ishbia and whoever else had their hands in pulling it all off, they really outdid themselves!
Rod: Following getting Eric Gordon, it has to be an A (with too many pluses to add in just one article). With nothing but vet minimums to offer, they fortified the bench and may have even added a starter to the roster... and did it quickly! Some lament not adding a “true” starting level PG but I think the Suns have enough talent to win around half of their games even if they had no coach and played every game as if they were pickup games at the local rec center.
The only FA addition I’m not completely sold on is Chimezie Metu as he seems a bit undersized for his role as a backup center and limited offensively.
Q2 - Other than Eric Gordon, which FA that the Suns signed do you think could have the biggest impact this season?
OldAz: This is a 2 horse race between Yuta and KBD. I predict KBD will win the starting job, even though Gordon is their 5th best player. Length on defense and moving KD to the SF position to start games would be a major win for the Suns and it brings in a lot of shooting off the bench with Yuta, Gordon, Lee and even Payne. I also expect the hot hand from 3 to get a lot of minutes and close games out many cases. This is where I expect Yuta to shine as he and Gordon are the sharpshooters. Between those two, it will come down to how much KBD can contribute on offense and how much Yuta can do on defense. This will determine who sees the floor more and with more minutes delivers greater impact.
Dan-Fly: I’ll say it’s 50/50 between Yuta and Gordon. Yuta has a great 3 point shot, drives hard, is active on defense and has played with KD and Goodwin. Gordon will a great sixth man, shoots the looong three, drives, gets his own shot and is just solid all around.
Brrrberry: This is a toss up between Yuta and KBD for me. If I had to bet money I’d put it on KBD, but when Yuta flashes, man is it pretty. His 3 ball is a thing of beauty, compact and repeatable mechanics that allow him to get his shot off QUICK. He’s shown the ability to attack close outs with a dribble drive and 15ft pull up or make it all the way to the rim. He’s got a pretty similar skill set to Cam Johnson. Defensively he’s a bit of a pest with his length and effort so not really a slouch on either end.
KBD brings a little bit of everything, kind of a smooth operator. I REALLY like that he’s spent the last 3 years under Pop and worked himself into a starting role over time. Both of them are fighting for the same minutes and could parlay a strong season as a starting 4 for a contending team into a massive pay raise. I’m expecting both of them to exceed expectations and can’t wait to watch it all unfold.
Rod: Keita Bates-Diop. I think he has the potential to be the Suns’ 5th starter this season and be a key defender and the guy who does the dirty work that often gets overlooked as his contributions won’t always show up as flashy numbers in the box scores. Drew Eubanks comes in as a close second because I believe the Suns are going to get great production out of him as their backup center.
Q3 - Which player from last season’s roster that isn’t coming back do you think the Suns are most likely to regret letting go?
OldAz: While it would have been nice to resign Craig due to his energy, effort and rebounding, it is hard for me to see the Suns missing anyone from last years squad too much. Their bench unit at the end of last year was Payne, Warren/Lee/Ross, Biz/Jock, Shamet, and Craig. While Jock’s high point was the Denver series, he spent most of the year flip flopping seats on the bench with Biz depending on if the team needed more offense or defense. Neither was a good 2 way option, which Eubanks appears to be. Warren and Ross are ok, but neither are very good on defense and would have trouble cracking this year’s 2nd unit.
If that 2nd unit is Gordon, Payne, Okogie, Eubanks, and Yuta then I could see Payne getting passed by Goodwin, leaving only Okogie (and by extension Craig) being good enough to garner a spot in this years 2 deep lineup. The other players the Suns lost would struggle even more to crack this second unit which leaves them sitting on the bench waiting for garbage time. The Suns could still upgrade their 3rd string center and I think a vet like Biz is what they need there (doesn’t require a ton of minutes and rim protects well when he is in), assuming he is still available and would want to come back.
Dan-Fly: I have to say it WOULD have been Jock and TC, but they have replaced them so expertly they won’t miss them. So the only one left would be CP3, and you HAD to make that trade. You can’t replace an all time great it’s impossible but we didn’t have the three years ago Paul anyway. He will be missed but we won’t be sorry we got Beal for him.
Brrrberry: I really don’t think we’re going to miss any of them. Best of luck to TC and Landale, nothing bad to say about either of them all the same.
Rod: I don’t really think that they will have any big regrets but there will likely be situations where we might wish we still had ___________ (<—-insert player name here). We got smaller at the backup C position which could create problems at times and make us regret not having Biz or Landale anymore but I don’t see that as being a frequent problem. With the additions the Suns have made, I can only see possible regret over losing Torrey Craig if the Suns have a rash of wing injuries. Probably the biggest regret might turn out no longer having CP3 as there WILL certainly be times that the Suns will want to slow things down and need his expertise in running the offense against a set defense.
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, “Do you believe that Frank Vogel might be able to work some coaching ‘magic’ to get a significantly higher level of play from Deandre Ayton this season?”
66% - Yes.
34% - No.
A total of 334 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Who do you believe the Suns’ 5th starter will be?
This poll is closed