Don’t look now, but the Phoenix Suns are one of the teams flying under the radar as we prepare to enter the All-Star Break. It feels weird saying that, right? Under the reader? Isn’t that where the Suns typically live? They are not a major market team like the Lakers, Warriors, or Knicks, so unless the national narrative serves the pundits, you don’t hear much about them.
Yes, they have Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal. And in their last 15 games, they are 11-4. But the Celtics are 12-3, the Clippers are 12-3, and the Knicks are 11-4. And the Cleveland Cavaliers? They’re 14-1. That’s the 12th leading story on SportsCenter.
Such is the national media. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and that is large market team fan bases. So here are the Suns, quietly taking care of business, stealthily making their way through their schedule, without much praise or acknowledgment. Fine. By. Me.
- Week 16 Record: 2-1
- Week 16 OFFRTG: 114.9 (20th)
- Week 16 DEFRTG: 108.1 (5th)
- Week 16 NETRTG: +6.8 (7th)
Week 16 was a tough one to navigate as the trade deadline always creates added stress amongst the players. You don’t know if your name is on the block or if you are safe. Is your entire family moving to the Midwest or are you okay in your Paradise Valley home?
Prior to those questions being answered, the Suns squared off against the Milwaukee Bucks and the ultra-competitive force that is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Without Dame Lillard — and with Khris Middleton getting hurt just 8 minutes into the game — the Suns defense held their own behind 32 points from Booker and 28 from Durant. Beal added 25 as Phoenix won 114-106.
It was the Suns' turn to be undermanned as they hosted the Utah Jazz on Trade Deadline Day. Devin Booker was out with a hip injury and Phoenix had dealt Keita Bates-Diop, Yuta Watanabe, Jordan Goodwin, and Chimezie Metu to the Grizzlies and Nets earlier in the day. Utah, who has been a streaky yet feisty team this season, couldn't survive the playmaking of Grayson Allen (14 assists) and the scoring of Durant and Beal (61 combined points).
Saturday night’s game in Golden State was the only tarnish on the week, from win/loss standpoint as well as a “hey, we made it through the deadline and I think we’re a better team” standpoint. The Suns Big Three had an off shooting night, combining for 28-of-62 shooting (45.2%). All of the variables that they faced — on the road, poor shooting, bad rebounding — and it took a three-pointer by Steph Curry to beat them, 113-112.
The same old story during that broadcast, right? How great the Warriors are for getting back to .500, how the Suns underperformed, yada yada yada.
Suns 12-3 in their last 15.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) February 11, 2024
ESPN: “WaRrIoRs WaRrIoRs WaRrIoRs”
It’s nothing new. I don’t know why I bring it up. Maybe it’s the post-Super Bowl result of having a few Moscow mules. We’re used to it and it’s okay. Let the Suns stay under the radar. Doubt them. I know we do, as every fan base does of their team. Be blatant in your disregard that this team is starting to figure things out.
Let’s go to the stock exchange for the week. I give you two stocks for Week 16 because, well, mules.
Ishbia’s Wallet: Stock ↑
The NBA trade deadline, as we knew, was going to be tricky for the Suns. They lacked viable assets and really couldn’t be major players on the market. As it turned out across the NBA, no one really was. The Play-In Tournament has truly changed how the trade deadline operates as more teams are holding tight to their star players in hopes of making a splash in the postseason.
Many classified the 2024 deadline as a “dud”. No big names changing locations, no massive deals to give the talking heads things to talk about.
What wasn’t a dud is the willingness of Mat Ishbia to spend money on a contender. Time will tell if that is money well invested, but the Suns are the only luxury team post-trade deadline to increase their overall spending on the season. The addition of Royce O’Neale further put the Suns into a higher luxury tax.
The luxury tax penalty: Before and post deadline— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 9, 2024
Every team either saved or stayed neutral, except for Phoenix.
Projected tax distribution is $11.5M for the 22 non tax paying teams. pic.twitter.com/WZ98MejnCt
We’ve known since Ishbia took over as team owner a year ago that he’s willing to spend. The trade deadline was another example in which James Jones presented him with an option, showed him the numbers, and Ishbia gave him the nod.
Stock up for that. Stock up for willing to be a contender. It’s just unfortunate that he has become our owner now when so many restrictions are in place.
Nurkic’s Mental Games: Stock ↓
Jusuf has had a great season and I love that he’s willing to stand up to Draymond Green. I can’t imagine our former center doing anything but cowering in his presence. But playing the mental game against Draymond? You’re never gonna win that.
Nurk and Draymond both believe the other is too small pic.twitter.com/1EWuMPofhX— John Voita (@DarthVoita) February 11, 2024
Even if you do, you don’t win.
It’s like an argument with your wife. Even if you are right, if all of the logic is in your favor, and you are making a viable argument, you don’t win. You get penalized for being correct, something is taken, and you lose. And it’s always you.
Again, I appreciate Nurkic wanting to bait Green into an injection. But focus on the game. Focus on putting the ball in the basket. Six points against an undersized interior in the Warriors isn’t what I would call unacceptable, but it is disappointing.
Draymond wins again, and this time the Warriors do with him.
I hope you’re okay with just two stocks this week. Hopefully, you don’t overly invest in one of the other and lose your investments. But they’re both solid.
Let’s look forward to Week 17. It’s a short one as the All-Star break lies ahead. Phoenix plays two games at home, one against the Sacramento Kings and one against Monty Williams and the Detroit Pistons on Valentine’s Day. Nothing like your ex-love coming to town on V-Day, eh?
Here’s a poll to through your way.
What are you looking forward to most in Week 17?
This poll is closed
Implementation of Royce O’Neale
Seeing Monty Williams’ return to Phoenix
Getting a look at David Roddy
Suns vs. Kings
Have a great week, Bright Side.