Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.
Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
First up… the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 – A lot of people have brought up the idea of trading DA for KAT lately. Towns earns $19 mil more than Ayton so the Suns would have to ship several other players back to Minnesota to make such a trade work. Do you think it would be worth making that trade considering how much Phoenix would have to give up in return?
GuarGuar: It definitely is not worth it right now because we’d have to give up other players. Arguments can be made on both sides for who is the better player and the better fit. Towns in my opinion raises our ceiling but lowers our floor. DA is currently cheaper and is a much much better defender. We’ve already proven we can make the finals with him.
Sun-Arc: KAT is a great player – a player virtually every team would love to have. But not actually every team. Philly is not going to replace Embiid with Towns. Denver is not going to replace Jokic. It would be questionable whether Utah or Miami would replace Gobert or Adebayo. As the Suns are currently constructed, I would not replace Ayton with KAT. Here’s why:
- We saw how well Ayton fit in the playoffs. Like a glove. His defense is far-and-away better than KAT’s. And filled in all the needs the team has to win. KAT is a superior offensive player, and yes that would come in handy. But he also needs the ball more, which would reduce shots for our star guards. And he would give up WAY more points to the opposing team. Ayton is just a better fit, IMHO.
- We’d have to give up other pieces. Pieces we need. Losing depth is no Bueno for the playoffs too.
- I happen to think Ayton has another gear on offense he has yet to find. He will likely never be as good as KAT on that side of the court- but I have a feeling he will get close.
SouthernSun: In my opinion, the time to trade for KAT would be this offseason in a sign and trade of Ayton and draft compensation for KAT. That gives the team time to add pieces in free agency to solidify the team. I do think that KAT is a better long term option for the Suns.
Ayton certainly isn’t the “bust” some made him out to be just because Luka is obviously the best player from that draft class, however, he also isn’t currently a player I would feel very comfortable maxing and looking to have as the second option on offense in a post-CP3 future. People like to point to his efficiency he’s shown in his current role, playing with Chris Paul, as though that is foreshadowing what he could do with more touches and opportunities, but fail to mention his inability to put the ball on the floor and really create at all for himself, and also how he doesn’t have great hands (as far as catching the ball goes). He has very good defense, but it seems a lot of that has been taught and learned in the last few years, helped along by his athleticism and size. His defense has surpassed his offense, which is certainly not what anybody expected when he was drafted. KAT, on the other hand, has been a positive on defense for the last 5 years, despite playing on a horrible team. No Suns player was a statistically a positive on defense during their atrocious years, so this is something worth mentioning.
He’s also far and away the better offensive player of the two. He’s also, as we all know, best friends with Devin Booker. In a post-CP3 future, you’re going to want another elite scorer next to Booker. Those are hard to find. The best teams always have more than one. None of Mikal, Cam Johnson, or Ayton look poised to become one, realistically anyway (we can always hope, but…). That being the case, the prudent thing to do would be to pull the trigger and make that move, setting the Suns up for the future, and adding another elite scorer to the group they have now, which probably keeps them in the contending conversation even next season with an even more aged CP3.
That being said, they might be able to swing a deal for KAT this season that includes something like Ayton + Dario + Smith + draft compensation. I would probably go so far as doing Ayton + Dario + Cam Johnson, though obviously there would be less draft compensation included in that deal than the first.
Doing a deal mid-season doesn’t make nearly as much sense as doing it this offseason though, but I actually do believe this deal to be one to watch. KAT does not seem happy in Minnesota, and a deal between the two teams makes a lot of sense for both sides.
Rod: Towns is unquestionably the better long-range shooter of the two (44.8% from three on 6.9 attempts per game this season!) but, considering the cost to the Suns to make the trade happen, it wouldn’t be worth it. Minnesota would NOT take back an injured Dario Saric as part of the deal and the Suns’ hands are tied by the Stepien Rule when it comes to adding draft picks to a trade. They would have to add rotation/depth players to make the numbers work and, under those circumstances, I don’t believe that Towns adds enough to actually make the Suns a better team. Besides, DA is already damned good, keeps getting better and is still a long way away from his prime.
Q2 – The Suns’ schedule for the rest of November is pretty tough with only one opponent presently with a win/loss percentage under .500. Do you think the Suns own W/L percentage will fall significantly during this stretch of games?
GuarGuar: I don’t think our win percentage will fall that significantly. We are a very elite team, possibly the best team in the league. We should be able to beat good teams regularly. Ayton is back so we are full strength and ready to roll.
Sun-Arc: The percentage will very likely fall. They still are not fully consistent and the competition will be stiffer. Could be, though, they play up to the competition. If they do that they’ll be fine and should be able to stay top 3 all season.
SouthernSun: No, I don’t believe the Suns will fall off much during this stretch. I mean, they certainly won’t win another 10 games in a row, but I see them probably winning sixty percent or so. This team is on a roll, and Ayton just came back. Frank stepped up and proved to be a capable backup big when necessary. Booker is hitting his stride. CP3 is a little more warmed up. Now we just need Cam Johnson to remember he’s good at basketball.
Rod: I think that the W/L percentage will drop a little but not by a significant amount. What’s “significant”? I’d call that losing (on average) more than one-third (33.3%) of their games. The Suns’ W/L% right now is .786 and I think they are capable of winning at or near a .667 clip through the rest of the month (and beyond) even against stiffer competition.
Q3 – In DA’s first game back, Monty gave both JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky minutes of the bench as the backup 5, essentially running an 11-man rotation. Running a player rotation of more than 9-10 players is almost unheard of. Do you think Monty will continue with this?
GuarGuar: I think he only did this because Ayton was on a minute restriction in that first game back. I think Javale will be the main backup and that’s it for our center rotation. Frank will play if there’s an injury or foul trouble.
Sun-Arc: Frank only played 3:39 in that game to McGee’s 11:24. I think Monty may try each of them to see who “has it going” and ride with them more than the other. I’ve been wondering if he’d try two towers off the bench and push out Nader, and we will see. But I do not see an 11-man rotation being the norm. Too many players off the bench keeps them from getting in a rhythm. Heck, Shamet (and maybe CJ) might need more time than they are getting.
SouthernSun: That’s an interesting question. You never know with Monty. Last season he made a LOT of changes, constantly. The guard rotation was almost never the same night to night. I doubt he runs an 11 man rotation on most nights, but I do think we will be seeing plenty of opportunities for both McGee and Kaminsky, where one plays one night and another the next, much like we saw with Galloway, Moore, and Carter last season. Also, it’s nice to be able to throw another look at the opposing team.
McGee and Kaminsky are completely different players and have to be defended in completely different ways. If the Suns are used to changing things up, going from one to another, perhaps that gives them an edge against teams. First big off the bench is McGee, basically replicating what Ayton has been doing up until that point. Then you get more Ayton. Then, boom, 5 out lineup with Kaminsky with oodles of space for the guards to go to work, and a center you can pass it into and count on him to find the open shooter for a three or create a little something for himself down low, who isn’t scared to put the ball on the floor a few times.
Rod: I don’t think we’ll see it regularly but the only way to know if Frank is having one of his “on” nights is to slip him into the game for a while and see how it goes. Unless he’s injured, I’m pretty certain that JaVale is always going to be the first big off the bench but if he’s not having a very good game, giving Frank a shot isn’t a bad option the next time DA needs a rest and then just go with the hottest hand for the rest of the game.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members – GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. – for all their extra effort every week! (Alex S. did not participate this week.)
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Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Who is most likely going to wind up the Suns’ 2nd leading scorer by the end of the season?”
32.4% – Mikal Bridges.
36.5% – Deandre Ayton.
27.7% – Chris Paul.
03.4% – Someone else.
A total of 296 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…