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 - Other than their starting lineup, what 5-man lineup(s) are you most interested in seeing the Suns put on the court?
GuarGuar: I would love to see a lineup at some point of Booker, Yuta, Damion Lee, KD, and Bol Bol at the center spot. A true 5 out lineup where all 5 guys can shoot the 3 ball, 4 of them at a very high clip. Two corner snipers in Yuta and Lee to keep the defense honest and create so much space for Booker and Durant to operate. I think it would be a fun group to watch.
OldAz: I feel more strongly about the lineup I DON’T want to see, which is any lineup where none of the top 4 are involved, unless it is garbage time. Beyond that I am interested in seeing 2 very different lineups.
First, the best defensive lineup with Goodwin, JO, KD & DA plus one of KDB, Bol, or Eubanks. The combination of ball pressure up front with size on the back end intrigues me as a strong defensive option. On the offensive side, I would love to see the “small ball” option with Gordon, Book, Beal, KD and Yuta. KD has played some small ball center and all 5 of these are lethal from deep and can drive. I don’t want to these this for 20 minutes a game, but in the modern NBA with the 5-out lineups and clearing out the lane I could see this lineup really doing damage on the offensive end.
Rod: This is kind of a copout because it’s very close to the probable starting lineup but here goes...
I really want to see how other teams deal with a Suns lineup of Beal, Book, KD, Bol and DA because of the size they would be playing against. A 6’10” SF, a 7’2” PF and a 6’11” C could make life in the paint very difficult for some teams both offensively and defensively. I might even stick Yuta in there for Beal for a few minutes to play SG while Book runs the point just to add even more height and have them play zone on defense.
Q2 - A recent SI article listed Deandre Ayton, Bol Bol and Jordan Goodwin as the Suns three players who could possibly have breakout seasons this year. What are your thoughts on this possibility for each of the three?
GuarGuar: Well if Ayton has a “breakout season” I think you can pencil us in as the 2024 champs assuming decent health. The question to me is what would define a breakout season for DA. Is it better numbers? Better energy? More consistency? Many things could be seen as an avenue for DA to have a “breakout”. I think it’s possible DA has a breakout season in the way of his consistency and effort. I can’t see him averaging much better numbers than he has thus far in his career. But him becoming a true consistent defensive anchor and a high motor guy every night would be a big big development. And while that wouldn’t be considered a breakout season for the majority of basketball fans, for me and this team it would be.
OldAz: I am pretty much over these discussions as no one is changing their minds, so let’s just get to the games. To many, DA “is what he is” (which is still pretty good and fills some important needs for the team), even if this means him not reaching the full impact we all want from him. To many others (myself included) there is still a significant potential for a breakout year because bigs do take longer to develop, DA is still young (and has been so effective already), and it seems like he will be getting an opportunity with a new coach who places great value on him. He also will likely get the most playing time of these 3 so has the most potential to make a greater impact. I am just tired of talking about it. Honestly, if DA does have this “breakout” season above his previous impact, then the Suns are all but guaranteed a championship.
Rod: While DA still has some things to work on (such as putting the ball on the floor/driving and playing through contact), I’m still of the opinion that consistent effort is the determining factor as to whether he has a breakout season or not. Perhaps Vogel can coax that effort out of him but I’d be much happier if DA would just decide for himself that he’s going to give it his all every second he’s on the court. Even if DA never expands his present skillset, I believe he could still easily become one of the best centers in the league with just staying focused and playing as hard as he can every night. I’m moderately hopeful that DA will at least a come close to having a breakout year this season.
GuarGuar: Bol has been a social media darling for years. If you go on an Instagram comment section about him, everybody loves him. But if you talk with any Magic fan or a non casual NBA fan, they all agree he’s been a very poor NBA player. Now maybe a reduced role and only being asked to do very few things can help him. I definitely think it’s possible. He clearly has a lot of raw talent to work with. He may just need to be used a different way than on his previous teams. I don’t think he will breakout but I’m certainly rooting for the kid too!
OldAz: Put me in the low expectations category on this one. His size and talent stack are so tantalizing and he is certainly still young, but his impact to date has been negligible. If all this potential was still in there, why were none of his previous team willing to continue developing it? What past players on their 3rd team in 5 years have really “broken out” and become significantly better? At least with DA we are talking about a baseline of 17/10, impacting winning, and being worth the team offering significant money to. With Bol Bol I will be rooting for the kid, and will be super happy to be wrong here, but I just don’t see it.
Rod: Although I haven’t watched a lot of Bol Bol playing (other than highlight vids), what I’ve seen - and heard - seems to indicate that he has the skills to breakout but he keeps shooting himself in the foot by not playing team ball a lot of the time. He’s a very good ball handler but often makes bad decisions when the ball is in his hands and tries to do too much rather than simply passing the ball to an open teammate.
He’s also not a particularly good three-point shooter (29.3% career average) but takes a lot of shots from there (25.4% of his career FG attempts have been from beyond the arc) and has a questionable motor on D and when playing off the ball. He has a lot of skill but just doesn’t use his skills well all of the time. Can all this be fixed? Sure but it’s going to take a lot of effort on his part so I’m not very optimistic about him having a breakout year, I’m just hopeful that he will prove to be a solid rotation player for the Suns.
GuarGuar: He’d basically have to be at least a little better than Cam Payne has been for him to be considered a breakout guy. Nobody but Wizards and Suns fans know anything about this guy. We have 35 national tv games, so people are going to learn rather quickly if he shows out. He’s such a new face for most NBA fans that I think he has the best odds to “breakout”, given the low floor.
OldAz: I think Goodwin is in a perfect situation for him and he may have that “breakout” season people are looking for. When a team has a clear #1 point guard, the backup is always in a tough spot because they just don’t get that many minutes and when they do, it is with backups playing against backups. On the Suns, however, his skill set is not found in the starting lineup and he is the only true PG on the roster so he is likely to get decent minutes, and those minutes should come with one of Beal, Booker or Gordon on the floor with him at guard, and likely with one of DA or KD at forward! That’s a better lineup than any other backup PG is going to have (and it’s probably not close). Obviously, having better talent around you bodes well for any young PG and from what I have seen of the young man, his aggressive style is going to fit in perfectly.
Rod: At first I was a bit surprised at seeing Goodwin mentioned as a potential breakout candidate but it does make sense. The guy is a great point of attack defender with somewhat underdeveloped offensive skills. He’s more of a combo guard than a PG so I am doubtful that his skill as a distributor makes a leap but if his offense becomes a bit more consistent (especially his 3-point shooting) I could see him possibly having a mini-breakout year and earn a fairly high number of rotation minutes this season.
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, “Did Deandre Ayton’s performance with the Bahamas team encourage you to think his play for the Suns will significantly improve this season?”
42% - Yes.
12% - No.
46% - Kind of but I’m not holding my breath.
A total of 344 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
I doubt many would argue that Bradley Beal & Eric Gordon weren’t the two best offseason acquisitions this year but who is the 3rd best?
This poll is closed