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 are your thoughts on how a healthy Bradley Beal has improved the Suns?
GuarGuar: Beal changes the whole dynamic of the team. Our offense is near unstoppable when the big 3 are on the court together. Teams have been hard doubling and blitzing Book and KD all season. They can’t do that when Beal is on the court with them, because Beal attacking weakside close outs is like a 75% success rate. He’s too good to be left wide open. So we’re going to see a lot more drop coverages and as a result the efficiency of Book and KD is going to be extremely good most nights.
OldAz: The offense simply works with another scoring guard who handles the ball. I have no concerns about point guard when he and Book are healthy because there are just too many good scoring options to try and mess with the guard minutes. On the other end, I will defer to his assessment as the defense has been “trash” to this point, but I also think it will get better as they play together for 15-29 games.
Rod: He’s been the key that’s finally unlocked the Suns’ offense. With Beal, Book and KD all on the court, it’s almost suicidal for opponents to attempt double-teaming any of them and with sharpshooters like Grayson Allen or Eric Gordon also on the court, no one can afford to sag off their man to help clog the paint which gives Nurk more room to operate. Plus opponents have to put only their 4th best defender on Allen/Gordon which gives either of them the advantage as they can either drop threes on them or blow past them and drive to the hoop if they try to guard them too closely on the perimeter.
Q2 - What is your current opinion of Udoka Azubuike’s play?
GuarGuar: Udoka has been a surprise for sure. He’s definitely outplayed Eubanks and deserves to be our backup center going forward. He may lack some mobility but his overall size is a huge plus. He’s a decent rebounder and he’s not afraid to finish through contact which is a big plus. I’ve been impressed so far.
OldAz: He is a great pickup on a 2 way contract as a backup center. He not only is big, but he plays big and this team needs length. I also like the way he keeps the ball high and goes towards the rim when it is available. I do believe Eubanks will eventually get back in the rotation ahead of “Doke” but I am more intrigued by Metu becoming the primary backup at both center and PF. This has limited Azubuike’s minutes outside of that great game in Houston and tells me the Drew is fighting for a much smaller role once he does get beck in the rotation. Either way, Azubuike is clearly better than a 2-way contract and will get a full contract somewhere. I would love to see the Suns find a way to convert his contract and make sure it is for multiple years so they can continue his development with the team.
Rod: It’s been good to have another big body to throw out there when Nurk needs a rest. He doesn’t back down from the challenge and isn’t as slow footed as I thought he was. He’s also someone that’s going to make opposing players think twice before challenging him at the rim as he’s 4th on the team in blocked shots per game even though his minutes per game average is only 14th.
He does have a bit of a problem with fouling (5.8 per 36 minutes) which could turn into a big problem if Nurk has to sit out a game and he has to play anything approaching starter’s minutes. Also, although he got off to a good start when Vogel first put him into the player rotation (1st 3 games - 26 pts, 16 rebs, 3 blocks, 1 TO), his production has dropped off lately as other teams have probably started including him in their game planning (last 4 games - 0 pts, 3 rebs, 3 blocks, 2 TOs).
At this point, I want to see more of him before making a final decision on whether he might be a keeper or not.
Q3 - It’s possible that Damion Lee could return to active status before the All-Star break. When he does return, do you think he could work his way into the Suns’ player rotation?
GuarGuar: I don’t think Lee will be in our playoff rotation. He should be behind Eric Gordon and Grayson. I can see him taking Okogie’s regular season minutes at some point, just to see what he’s got. But Lee will be insurance for Grayson and Eric Gordon if one of them were to go down. Let’s hope his 3 point shooting is as good as last years still.
OldAz: I think that is a very long shot considering the veteran guards and the minutes they are getting now. Unless there is an injury, Beal, Booker, GA and EG are going to eat up pretty much all the guard minutes available. I like D. Lee as a player, but there is nothing he offers that is better than any of those 4 players at this point unless GA or AG are in a major slump.
Rod: It’s possible but I think it’s unlikely. The Suns already have so many guards that it’s going to be an uphill climb for him. Damion can shoot and shoot very well from downtown which is what the Suns’ offense needs to function at it’s peak so he will get a shot at working his way into the rotation though. Whether he can stay there will depend on his shooting, consistency and a determination to play defense better than he ever has before. Playing really good defense might be beyond him but effort alone will get Vogel’s attention and at least a little longer leash when he does finally hit the court.
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 the Suns can even make the playoffs this season without making significant changes to the roster and/or coaching staff?”
69% - Yes, they can.
31% - No, they can’t.
A total of 368 votes were cast.
Grayson Allen is one of only three players in the NBA this season with at least 100 field goal attempts and shooting 50+ FG%, 40+ 3FG% and 90+ FT% (the others are Kelly Olynyk and Naz Reid).
This week’s poll is...
How many games do you think the Suns’ Big 3 will play together in this season?
This poll is closed
Less than 10.
10 to 20.
20 to 30.
30 or more.