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Inside the Suns: Suns title contender ranking, Josh Okogie, Suns Big 3 rotation

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

2023 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v LA Clippers Photo by Tyler Ross/NBAE via 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.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - The Athletic recently ranked the Suns 5th among the top five “true NBA title contenders” behind Denver, Milwaukee, Golden State and Boston. What are your thoughts on this ranking?

OldAz: This seems reasonable to me, so long as they are included in whatever tier is considered “title contenders”. There is no way to not view the Suns that way at this point with their top of the lineup talent. The other 4 teams in this list are also supremely talented and 3 of them have won titles in the last 3 years with basically the same top of the roster.

I also cannot quibble that they should be ahead of any of these other teams. Debating the exact order, in my opinion, is an affront to the athletic process as way too many things can and will happen between now and next June. Sure the Warriors lack size, but they can be as dangerous as anyone on offense. Sure, the Celtics made some massive changes to their core, but they still have Brown and Tatum along with a very deep and talented roster. And until someone proves differently Jokic is the best player in the universe right now. Based on current rosters alone and assuming good health, there is no reason these 5 won’t be battling it out towards the end of next season. Trying to argue beyond that seems pointless to me.

Brrrberry: Suns are hands down the most talented team in the league so I’d have them #1. Denver and Milwaukee I’d have neck and neck at number 2 and wouldn’t fault anyone for putting either of those two above the Suns. Bucks had a hobbled Middleton and Giannis last year and I think at full strength they’re dangerous as anyone. Celtics are interesting having added Porzingis, they’re pretty damn talented too. The Warriors I just don’t rank as a true contender. They lucked out that Fox broke a finger on his shooting hand or I think they’d have got sent packing in the first round last year. To sum it up I’ve got 4 actual contenders — Suns, Nuggets, Bucks and Celtics.

Rod: I think ranking the Suns 5th is very fair considering the roster turnover they’re going into this season with. Phoenix has three great players plus a lot of very good rotation players but how well they will all fit together is still a question mark. Adding the fact that they’ve also got an almost entirely new coaching staff to that makes picking them any higher a bit difficult for me unless I want to go full homer on my evaluation.

I think that they might be better than 5th - much better - but the rational part of my brain tells me to hold off on proclaiming them favorites to win the title until I actually get to watch them play some meaningful NBA games.

Q2 - Fans have mostly been talking about the Suns’ new players but if Josh Okogie can develop a consistent above average 3-point shot, how big could that be for the Suns?

OldAz: I have often compared Okogie to (former Suns Devil) Lu Dort with OKC, who got an awesome contract (5years $82M) after showing that he could be relied on for some offense. It is hard to overstate how great this would be for Okogie and how potentially bad it could be for the Suns if it happened this upcoming season. Obviously, Josh developing into a reliable offensive threat would keep him on the floor more and improve the Suns defense immensely. We already saw last year how impactful he can be, but was lost in the playoffs when he could not sustain the offensive burst. If he had hit his 3’s there is no telling how long the Suns run might have been extended.

Unfortunately, since he has a player option and would not have full bird rights with the Suns until after the 24-25 season, this offensive development would have teams lining up to pay him far more than the Suns $2.9M that following season. He would essentially be the Suns version of Bruce Brown if this happened and it helped the,m win a Championship. Obviously I still would love to see that, as the Suns would win the Championship in this scenario. Also, watching young guys develop and thrive around the current Suns core would attract a lot of similar players in the future who wanted to bet on themselves. And who knows, maybe JO would be willing to wait that extra year for his big payday.

Brrrberry: Okogie with a 3 pt shot is a 15M+ per year player so it’d be massive, but I don’t think that’s happening this season. He’s a great defender and rebounder for his size, solid passer, opportunistic scorer and he brings that elite energy output that just can’t be coached. As far as his shot goes, I think his mechanics are too all over the place for him to develop a consistent shot. He’d have to completely rework his mechanics and get up 10,000+ shots with his new form to start executing it in games. Maybe he did that this summer?

Rod: If Josh could consistently hit at least 36-37% of his threes this season it could be a deciding factor on how far the Suns ultimately go. We know he can play tough defense and his hustle is nonstop. Being a consistent offensive threat is all that was lacking in his game and having him turn into a true two-way menace on the court would be huge for Phoenix.

Q3 - Which one of the Suns big 3 (Book, Beal & KD) would be the first one you sub out for rest during games?

OldAz: I would sub out KD first in order to better limit his minutes. To me this is another question that is inseparable from a DA discussion. The starting lineup certainly does not need DA and would thrive with any of the centers on the roster. However, when bench players start to get subbed in, DA is the perfect candidate with which to play 2 man game while the other 2 superstars are on the bench.

My starting plan would pull DA even earlier, maybe after 5-6 minutes for a quick blow, playing Eubanks for 3-4 minutes in the middle of the 1st with the starters before bringing DA back in to finish the quarter with Book for the last 3-4 minutes. Among the big 3, I would take KD out with 5-6 minutes left in the 1st quarter and then sit him till the 2nd Qtr when both Beal and Book are taking a break. Beal would also come out with about 3-4 minutes left in the first to stagger his rest from Book. This would always leave a decent 2 man game option on the floor when part of the 3 big guns are getting rest.

The Suns would then start the 2nd with KD and DA and 3 bench shooters until Beal subs back in a couple minutes later and then give KD and DA another rest in the middle of the quarter. Of course the same logic works if Beal or Book is the first of the 3 subbed out, but Book is the least likely that I would do this with. Everyone knows this is Book’s team and this is one area where that shows up.

Brrrberry: This one’s easy, it’s gotta be KD. Oddly enough he played more minutes per game than Book and Beal last year. KD is the oldest of the bunch and we traded two guys that are looking like they’ll be on the next Olympic team + a haul of firsts for him. We need KD to be an unmitigated superstar come playoff time. He’s not a guy that likes to have his minutes managed a whole lot but I think we’ve got the scoring depth where we can get him down to around 33 mpg and let the two young shooting guards pick up the slack at that point.

Rod: I would say you should plan on resting KD first simply due to his age. He’s such a competitor though that he might not like it initially but I don’t see that as being a big problem. The real question might actually be who will be the 1st of all 5 starters to sit for a rest. I think of Eric Gordon as our 6th man but if KD is the 1st starter pulled then subbing Gordon in at that time would make the Suns small in the frontcourt with Book likely moved over to SF. That might work out well but perhaps not against bigger opponents. I could see Okogie or perhaps Watanabe being the sub to replace KD and Gordon waiting to sub in when either Beal or Book is ready for a rest.

On the other hand, it might be better to rest whoever takes on most of the PG duties (Beal or Book) first. In that case, I’m fairly certain that Gordon would be the 1st guy off the bench... unless the team needs more defense and Goodwin or Okogie might be the guy you sub in.

How Vogel handles his player rotation is going to be quite interesting as he’s going to have plenty of good options to choose from. I also wouldn’t be too surprised if the Suns’ big 3 aren’t the last of the starters to cycle out to the bench for rest on certain occasions. All the possibilities are exciting to contemplate!

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, “Who do you want taking that last second, win or lose shot?

27% - Devin Booker.

24% - Kevin Durant.

01% - Bradley Beal.

48% - Whoever’s hot.

A total of 475 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Where would you rank the Suns as an NBA title contender?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    (115 votes)
  • 22%
    (86 votes)
  • 27%
    (104 votes)
  • 13%
    (50 votes)
  • 5%
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    6th or lower
    (7 votes)
382 votes total Vote Now

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