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Inside the Suns - Topics: Devin Booker, Jusuf Nurkic, ‘Tall ball’

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

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/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

Author’s Note: All questions were submitted to the Fantable members before the Suns/Bucks game Tuesday Night.

Q1 - For a short while in the Washington game we saw a lineup featuring a KD, Bol and Nurk frontline. Your thoughts on playing those three together (especially with Book and Beal in the backcourt)?

GuarGuar: I think it could be a dangerous defensive lineup to use in spurts. That is a really really long lineup and I can see the potential firepower in it. Bol has been a pleasant surprise so far this year and I’m hoping he can continue his solid play.

OldAz: We saw even more of it against the Bucks, with both Nurk and Eubanks at center with KD and Bol on the floor. I have been calling all year for lineups that move KD to the 3 and really add size to the Suns lineups. I love this because the long arms make for much better defensive rotations and far better rebounding. The version with Nurk gives them 3 scoring threats with size and you know the 2 guards on the floor are also threats because it is two of Book, Beal, Gordon or Allen.

I wish they would do this more and either add a bigger wing at the deadline/buyout market or simply give Metu more run as he also has length and has shown some ability to shoot. The few times when the KD/Beal minutes have actually looked good with Book on the bench (like starting the 4th against the Bucks) seem to me to involve a bigger lineup around them.

Brrrberry: I was thrilled to see the 3 7 footers with Book and Beal! That group is a lineup I mentioned wanting to see before the season started and I want to see more of it for a number of different reasons. Mainly for those games/moments where we’re getting killed on the glass. We’ve lost a few games this year to teams we flat out should’ve beat because they just destroyed us rebounding the ball and for the majority of both those games as I was watching it play out I had this unnerving feeling of “this is going to cost us the game”.

I’d like to see Vogel employ that lineup when it’s apparent early on that the other team is getting too many extra shot attempts/possessions with the hope they can turn the tide because it seems like most the games where we get wiped out on the boards it’s something that lasts the entire game and allows the other team shooting with much less efficiency to stay in the game.

Rod: Bol may still not be ready for prime time (starting/heavy rotation minutes) but I believe this lineup adds a whole new dimension to this team. If you hate small-ball, I think you might love tall-ball. Having three 7-footers on the court at once - all of which can shoot and block shots as well as rebound - could work out very well when the Suns are facing bigger teams as well as making life miserable for smaller teams. He’s showing his value and his willingness to learn. I think KD may have taken him under his wing and that might be the best thing to ever happen to him (at least in regard to his NBA career).

Q2 - What is your current opinion of Jusuf Nurkic’s “fit” with the team?

GuarGuar: I think Nurkic is an amazing fit on offense and an average-below average fit on defense. But his ability to pass out of the short roll when one of Book/KD/Beal gets double teamed is unmatched. He’s a truly great facilitator for his size and he’s a phenomenal fit on offense.

OldAz: This almost became a joke the way it was thrown around at the time of the trade. For many I think it just meant that his contract being half the size of DAs was more palatable and he was a big guy who could hold down the fort against Centers like Jokic. As it turns out, this concept of “fit” is no joke as Nurk has been integral to the teams success.

As it shows in question 1, Nurk is a big part of making the offense work and totally the reason I am not one of the voices screaming for a point guard. The ball movement and facilitation he brings has been excellent. He allows them to play more scorers without going even smaller. We are all waiting for the other shoe to drop with an injury issue (Suns fan PTSD) but hopefully this is what an engaged Nurkic, playing for a good team, looks like throughout the whole season and a long postseason run.

Brrrberry: Nurkic is one of the my favorite Suns players ever at this point. I’m sort of glad to see he’s mostly stopped hosting 3s as it’s just not a shot he’s shooting well at all. He’s 57.3% from on 2pt fg attempts which is a career high and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s up around 60% before the season is over if he continues the pattern of eschewing the 3 ball. It’s obvious his teammates love him and he’s flat out all about playing his role to help the team win games, stats be damned. He’s rebounding the ball at his 2nd highest rate per minute since he’s entered the league and assisting the ball at his highest rate.

I really think this team is a sleeping giant at this point and he’s a big part of why I believe that. We’re 19 games in with Beal healthy and playing about as good as any team in the league since he came back. Nurkic has been the ideal fit, we really lucked out getting him and Allen right before the season began.

Rod: I was leery of replacing DA with Nurk at first but he’s definitely proven all my previous concerns to be unfounded. If he was just a tad bit quicker on his feet and a little more springy in his leap he would be as close to a perfect fit as I could hope for.

One thing I love seeing is him not hesitating to bring the ball downcourt himself at times when some defensive pressure is being put on others. That plus his passing skills kind of makes him a point-center at times. He’s much better than I expected at moving with the ball and I don’t cringe any more like I used to when I watched DA dribbling.

Q3 - The Suns’ offensive rating sees a 14.2-point swing per 100 when Booker is on the floor compared to when he’s off it. A recent SB Nation article attributes this to Booker’s improvement as a passer/distributor. Do you agree?

GuarGuar: Booker really hasn’t improved as a playmaker a ton since like year 3-4. People are just now realizing his passing skillset… that’s the difference. He’s always been an offensive juggernaut since he was 20 and I’m glad he’s finally getting the consistent recognition he deserves. I am a tad concerned at HOW big a drop off offensively we see when he sits. The KD/Beal lineup has not been good to this point which is perplexing but I’m still patient they will find their groove.

OldAz: I think that is part of it, but the bigger issue has been how bad the team has looked when Book sits. His presence for a lot of the year has seemed to be the catalyst that makes the offense click and then when he goes to the bench the team becomes stagnant, stands around off the ball and watches KD and Beal. This is starting to change, and I think Vogel going with bigger lineups when Book is on the bench (see question 1) is a driver behind this as it creates much different mismatches.

Booker has been better facilitating this season, of that there is no doubt; but the Suns have actually looked better the last few weeks as he has tried to score more or at least balances in more aggressively looking for his own shots. The offensive rating gap will close as KD and Beal find chemistry and consistency with whatever other players are on the floor with them during Booker’s minutes of rest.

Brrrberry: Book has undoubtedly improved as as distributor. He’s been vacillating between 2.75:1-3:1 assist to turnover ratio all season while dishing out 7+ apg all season. The fact he’s averaging 28 ppg on damn near 50/40//90 efficiency on top of that means we’re seeing the best version of Booker we’ve seen thus far, which is saying a lot as these entire roster is still getting used to playing with one another.

In recent games, Beal has also looked much more comfortable in the distributor role, to the extent that I actually prefer him initiating the offense at this point and allowing Book to play the 2. I do think if they take all the chances they can to get out and run when the opportunity presents itself we’re solid at the PG position for the most part.

Rod: I agree in part. The team does miss his passing but also his shooting and gravity when he sits... and maybe his gravity the most. While Book does have problems with double-teams at times, when he beats them that means that someone, somewhere is wide open for a shot and more likely to score. Opponents don’t look as though they try doubles as often when anyone else has the ball (KD can usually just pass or shoot over them) possibly because they’ve seen it work more on Book in the past. When it doesn’t work, it’s usually bad news for them though.

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 the trade deadline passes without the Suns making a significant trade, their playoff ceiling is...”

40% - Making it to the Finals!

28% - Making it to the Western Conference Finals.

27% - Making it to the 2nd round.

05% - A first round exit.

00% - They won’t make the playoffs.

A total of 384 votes were cast.

Suns Trivia

Bradley Beal’s 43 point game against his old team (the Wizards) was his 31st career 40+ point game.

The Suns now have three different players with 40+ point games this season in Beal, Booker and Durant. The last time a Suns team had three different players with 40+ point games in a single season was during the 2008-09 season when it was accomplished by Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal and Leandro Barbosa.

This week’s poll is...


What’s your opinion of the KD/Bol/Nurk frontline?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    I love it!
    (208 votes)
  • 1%
    I hate it.
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    I need to see more of it before I decide.
    (77 votes)
289 votes total Vote Now

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