Welcome to “Inside the Suns”, your weekly in-depth analysis of the current Phoenix Suns Team.
First up, The Fantable – a roundtable of Bright Siders giving their opinions on the latest Suns releases and news.
Great Questions of the Week
Q1 – If the Suns have essentially “taken it back” with pretty much the same team as last season, what do you think head coach Monty Williams can/should do that would make the 2022/23 Suns better than the 2021/22 Suns?
GuarGuar: Monty needs to be more flexible with our defensive scheme. We’ve played low coverage in pick and roll 95% of the time in the last year. Our inability to adapt and play other schemes was our demise last season. I want to see Monty try more with other defensive coverings so we’re experienced and ready for qualifying time. This team used to be more schematically diverse but the loss of Willie Green seems to be otherwise.
OldAz: This is easy for me because I have been saying this for about 8 months now. 12-15 minutes When the book is not on the floor DA, Mikal and Cam J should be on the floor with players on the bench. The offense must pass through those three in these important minutes. DA, Mikal and Cam should be pressured to improve and should also be allowed to struggle. Specific combinations need to be run to force the ball into the DA in different places on the ground and dribbling and all of this has to be to maximize the development they can achieve during the regular season.
This will also mean more minutes where CP3 and Book will be on the ground with the backups including the Backup Center, but they should be able to keep on their own for those minutes regardless. Even if it costs the team 6-8 wins, they will be better prepared in playoff time and in the years to come.
Cliff 30: Play CP3 less, and make it sit in the occasional game. I don’t care if he doesn’t like it. You are the coach, it is not. And use Ayton more in the attack. It may be forced at first. But he needs to take more than 15 shots per game. Because if we’re the same team, the biggest opportunity for improvement is Ayton’s growth. Prioritizing his development over regular season wins and hopefully we can reap the rewards with a more confident and skilled Ayton in post-season.
Stick: Overall, I think Monty needs to be more flexible. Doesn’t make quick match adjustments in attack and defense. It also tends to stay with players for a long time when they have bad matches. Sure when a shooter is going through a bad night, you need to give them a chance to shoot their way out of the slump, but I think it gives some players a pretty long limitation.
He should also make the DA more involved in the offense during the second half of matches. I don’t think it was planned that way but I do think it gives CP3 and Book pretty much some freedom for standalone work in the second half.
Q2 – At the moment, the ranking of the top 5 teams in the West?
GuarGuar: 1. Clippers – the best talent when you are healthy. Versatile.
2. Warriors – defend the next heroes and youth.
3. Suns – League best record last year and young core improvement.
4. Nuggets – Must be healthier this season. I went to the conference finals the last time they were healthy.
5. Timberwolves – They have to be a great defensive team and their size will cause problems.
OldAz: 1. Warriors – Until someone proves otherwise, they are.
2. Clippers – If you assume “at the moment” that Leonard and George are healthy, along with the new additions, this would be a very good basketball team.
3. Suns – They could be a higher seed if that’s what they’re after in the regular season, but you should prioritize development and be happy with the top 4 rankings.
4/5/6. I cheat and list Nuggets, Mavs, and Grizz together in this place. There’s a bit of a disconnect here because Denver has experience as a unit if they stay healthy, the MAF has a great player and some good new pieces but who knows how everything will fit, and Memphis could be at the top or bottom of this group depending on how long and how impactful they are. JJJ’s loss.
Cliff 30: 1. The Warriors – They’re the heroes, and they’re bringing the whole team back together, and while there are some old bits, they already have a lot of upsides on their roster with Paul, Cominga and Wiseman. It is very difficult to go with any other team.
2. Suns – I want to give credit to the Mavs for beating us. But we beat ourselves out in that series, and they lost their second best player. This band is still really good. I still think they are the second best team even if they don’t provide the kind of important addition I hope.
3. Nuggets – They’ve got the Jokic and now they have to get Murray and MPJ back. I thought about arranging them on top of us. But the fact of the matter is that they are not guaranteed to get back a pre-injury version of Murray after a major injury with a year of rust. And MPJ just came back until his next injury. So while this group could challenge us on paper, we’ll see if this group really is in full force.
4. Mavericks – They have lucas so they will compete. Bronson’s loss is huge. But they added the return of Christian Wood, McGee, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. at one point. It’s a poor support team, but it’s a star league and they have a great squad.
5. Grizzlies – It is disrespectful to put it here. Ja is an electrician and they finished second in the West with 56 wins.. but I think JJJ’s injury is concerning and the West is really, really good. I mean I’d leave two Los Angeles teams with the health advantage of the best duo in the conference and could win it all with ease, not to mention an annoying team that might add their best player and the Timberwolves who added all the time great defender. Definitely a lot that could happen to make my list look so ridiculous at the end of the year.
Stick: 1. The Warriors – They are basically #1 because they won them all last season but the lowest rating I consider to be is #2.
2. Clippers – This year’s LAC team is the most talented they’ve ever had. If everyone stays healthy, this could be their year.
3. Suns – Without any major changes, you’ll still be pretty good. If the DA was more involved in the offense and played consistently well, putting them in third could underestimate it.
4. Nuggets – With Jamal Murray and the rest of the squad back in good shape, the team is going to be tough this season.
5. Timberwolves – There are two-thirds of the other teams I’d consider putting here but I consider Minnesota a bit of a wild card with Gobert’s acquisition and KAT transfer to PF. If you succeed, T-Wolves can give other teams to try to match up with.
Memphis, Dallas, and New Orleans (with Healthy Zion) could all be in a mix of the Top 5, too.
Q3 – If Kemba Walker was bought by the Pistons, do you think the Suns should consider signing him?
GuarGuar: Kimba’s knees are a real problem and the only way I would think about it would be if we had another reliable backup guard. Kemba can’t be counted on to just be our support. The history of his injury is too great to ignore. But there is definitely a positive side to him and that piques my interest in making him the end of the rotation man.
OldAz: It totally depends on what Kemba is looking for. If he wants more guaranteed minutes or thinks he’s better than he really is at this point, then “No thanks.” However, if he’s humbled and looking for an opportunity like Cam Payne a few years ago, it might be worth it. It’s similar to this season’s Cam Payne but has more potential IMO, so having a competition in the PG’s reserve spot might elevate one of their games enough to make a difference. It also depends on the other options that exist in the trading scenarios.
Cliff 30: I have no idea if he would be happy with the limited role here. But if he’s willing to take on the MLE to come here, he should be willing to accept that role and we’d be lucky to have him. And it fits perfectly. Definitely a much better addition than Schroeder. There is clearly a risk of infection there. But if he can get healthy and fit, we’ll get a legitimate 20 ppg scorer off the bench.
Stick: If he’s willing to play for the bare minimum of vets, I totally support him. There are durability issues of course but he can still play great any night as evidenced by the 44 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds he had last season against the Wizards on 12/23/21. Due to his recent injury issues, no I want him instead of Cam Payne, but I think having them both off the bench would give the Suns extra firepower in PG at a bargain price.
As always, a big thank you to our awesome members for all their extra efforts this week!
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Last week’s poll results
Last week’s poll wasCameron Payne…”
39% – Last year was just bad and better than his stats suggest.
61% – back to normal after over-achievement in the previous year.
A total of 292 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…
Where do the suns (without KD) rank in the West this year?
less than the fifth.
241 votes total