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 - Do you have any ideas as to what the Suns can do to possibly avoid their now signature 4th quarter meltdowns?
GuarGuar: So now the issue with the 4th quarter problems has been the Beal/KD with no Book lineup has a negative rating. Which is completely bizarre and shouldn’t be the case. These are two all world talents and they are a negative together if Book isn’t out there?!?! I’m sure they’ll figure it out. But I guess my solution would be for the second half to take Book out 1st/2nd and then let him play the whole 4th.
OldAz: More of the last 5 minutes against the Kings would be a good start. I am only half kidding there. While I am not a fan of small ball, they played with intensity and effort on every trip for an extended period. This starts with the a big 3. In other games, when the Suns have a lead going into the 4th they seem to play with a severe lack of urgency and take way too long to get into the offense. The 4th also usually starts with the KD/Beal lineup with 3 bench players. I still contend that it is just a matter of time and familiarity before this combo clicks, but showing some urgency would help expedite this process and help address the 4th quarter malaise.
One last (out of the box) idea when they are playing with a lead. I would play 3-4 minutes in the early 2nd quarter and middle of the 3rd quarter with a defensive lineup and NONE of the big 3. Basically, they are already playing “prevent defense” to start the 4th, so why not get them all some rest earlier in the game and buy a few minutes with Godwin, Okogie, Metu, Azubuike ( or Nurk or Eubanks depending on the opponent) & KBD. I get that this group offers almost no offense, but the KD/Beal led group is already going multiple minutes without scoring to start the 4th. This lineup could also frustrate the other team for a few minutes. If they can play to a draw (or close to it) for 3-4 minutes in the 3rd and the trade off is 3-4 more minutes with all 3 of the big 3 on the floor in the 4th, then it would be a big win for the Suns overall.
Rod: After the win against Sacramento, Grayson Allen said, “I like how fast we played with that group. I like how we got up a lot more threes. The speed of play from that group was great… way to close the quarter out.” That’s what I want to see more of, fast, up-tempo play (and not just in the 4th quarter). The slower the Suns play, the worse they seem to play and a slow paced team was NOT at all what I expected before the season began.
Just seeing them fully engaged and playing hard on every possession is also part of my wish list.
Q2 - Two-part question: The trade deadline (Feb. 8) isn’t far away. What do you want the Suns to do AND what do you expect them to actually do?
GuarGuar: I would like the Suns to acquire a rim protecting backup center and a 3 and D wing that is better than KBD/Little/Yuta. There are no reports about us actually wanting to get another center so I don’t think that will happen. I do think we will try and acquire a wing at the deadline. Torrey Craig part 3?!?! Maybe not him but somebody with a similar archetype.
OldAz: I have consistently said that the Suns need more time playing as a unit before making any major changes. I want them to move Little (who has not shown much but has a good contract) and any of the back bench players (Yuta, KBD, Eubanks, even Goodwin) for the best player they can get. Each of those players has failed to make the impact they are capable of and currently sit outside a top 8 rotation of Book, Beal, KD, Nurk, Allen, AG, Metu, Bol/Okogie. Go get the best player who can crack that group at any position and backfill your losses with a buyout player or converting a 2 way contract ( he has earned it IMO). Also, resign Allen early. He has earned it and that’s not really an opinion at this point.
Rod: What I’d like to see them do is a relatively small trade that brings in one player that improves an area of weakness. Be that a backup point guard, a bigger 3&D wing or another big (at PF or C), what really matters is that they try to improve the roster without shaking it up so much that whatever chemistry they’ve developed by then goes down the toilet.
As for what I expect them to do... well, I kind of expect them to attempt to do just what I want. Whether they’re successful or not is another story. There’s also a fair amount of time left before the break so things could change between now and then which could change their approach to the rest of the season. If things are going well, I expect something similar to what I want to see happen... or maybe no trades at all. If things are going badly, there’s very little that I’d feel comfortable actually counting out as far as trades go.
Also, if the Suns can’t find a trade to their liking, I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn to the buyout market to add someone.
Q3 - If the Suns were to have to waive a player to open up roster spot, who would be your choice to let go?
GuarGuar: Not counting the 2 way players… I guess I would choose to waive Yuta over the rest. He was brought into be a knockdown 3-pt shooter and he’s shooting 31.5% on the season. Just absolutely rough and he doesn’t offer anything else on the offensive or defensive end. I was super high on his fit here but he’s been the biggest disappointment for me. He got hit by the Landry Shamet curse.
OldAz: Yuta should be the first to go. He really has not lived up to expectations, but even if he started to hit his outside shots he would still be behind Allen and Gordon for minutes. He does not offer the defense of Okogie, interior presence of Metu, or the size of Eubanks. He also does not offer the defense or ball handling of Goodwin. To me this choice is pretty easy now that Bol has shown that he can play within the scheme of the game plan.
Rod: Well, my answer to this depends on what kind of player they need to open up a roster spot for. If it’s for another guard, Damion Lee would be my choice. I hate to cut players after they’ve been hurt but he’s not likely to be back until March and maybe not even then.
If it’s a wing/SF, I’d pick Yuta Watanabe. He has the worst FG percentage on the team (33.7%), is hitting only 31.5% from three and been mostly bad on defense. I had hope that he would be a good or at least solid rotation player for the Suns but he’s become virtually unplayable lately.
If it’s a big, as much as I dislike saying this, it could possibly be Drew Eubanks... although Yuta might still be more expendable depending on whether the Suns need the spot for a center or a power forward. Azubuike is on a two-way contract so waiving him wouldn’t actually open up a roster spot (new players can’t be signed to two-way contracts after Jan. 15).
A month ago I would have just answered Bol Bol without a second thought but he’s showed very good signs of turning into a positive contributor lately. Perhaps Yuta could also change my mind between now and the deadline too.
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, “If you could change the Suns’ recent past, would you...”
33% - Undo the trade for KD.
11% - Undo the trade for Beal.
04% - Undo the trade with Portland.
06% - All of the above.
46% - None of the above.
A total of 343 votes were cast.
The Suns’ come from behind victory against the Kings after being down 22 points in the 4th is the 4th largest 4th quarter comeback in NBA history.
The Suns current home sellout streak (103 games dating back to Dec. 19, 2021) is the third Suns sellout streak to reach triple digits in franchise history (390 straight from 1990-1999 and 153 straight from 2006-2009).
Grayson Allen is averaging career-highs in— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 17, 2024
14 PPG on 50/48/91% shooting. https://t.co/Yhit10HzZJ
This week’s poll is...
Should the Suns play at a faster pace?
This poll is closed