Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly in-depth analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Each week, Fantable – a roundtable of Bright Siders – gives their take on the latest Suns issues and news. This week we welcome frequent BSotS commenter Brrrberry to Fantable!
Amazing question of the week
Q1 – What do you see as the pluses and minuses of the Suns’ Bradley Beal trade?
- Their top 3 (or 4) just turned 8 years younger.
- Beal will be far better as an off-ball threat than CP3 was last season, and while he’s not the Point “god,” he’s still decent on the ball.
- Put a couple of good young players on the back end of the roster who are closer to having Bird rights if they develop well.
- Highly interchangeable players (5th “starter” can be any of 4 positions – though my preference is PF).
- 4 big (tradeable) salary slots filled for future purposes when CBA makes it hard to create naturally (some would call this a negative but they would be wrong IMO).
Many more things I don’t have space to mention.
- Potential for injuries to derail the season (this goes for any team, but I’m really struggling to come up with anything here.
- No room for a natural PG? (I’m really getting here)
I refuse to mention lack of depth or the team being too “top heavy” as negatives here. There will be good players willing to play at the vets minimum for Phoenix and their 5th starter when healthy last year was Okogie or Craig for most of the season. Playoff rosters usually only run 8 deep, and the Suns’ top 4 matches up well with anyone (when healthy).
Dan-Fly: I think Brad will fit in nicely with KD and Book, he has the ability to get his own shot and has distributed some. He plays defense, although he is not known for it, I think in a team formation he can hold his own. However, we can count on him to score above all else, and he is a person of character with a good attitude. He will have no problem fitting into the plan Frank is putting into motion.
Brrrberry: The Wizards reportedly had interest from the Suns, Bucks, Kings and Miami. Beal reduced the list to 2, Phoenix and Miami. He received a pitch from his two finalists and reportedly decided he would only waive his NTC if he went to the Suns. The Suns are now 100% a destination franchise. This bodes well for the future as big players undoubtedly want to be here in Phoenix.
The obvious plus on the field is that we have three, 3-level playmakers who are good for 25+ on any given night. Floor spacing should be excellent as all 3 can operate at an elite level from anywhere on the field. The number of open looks with 3 guys of their ilk will create should be extraordinary. I expect offensive efficiency to be elite. Come gm 6, we didn’t have the firepower to hang with Denver on offense, now we do.
Needless to say, the financial obligations we have to our top 3 (or 4) players and whatever implications that has for future years with the new CBA is the potential downside. The Suns seem to think there is a way they can “blow right through” the second tax apron, so maybe the restrictions won’t be what they seem.
Rod: First, the pluses. The Suns now have 3 top scorers who can get buckets in a variety of ways. Even though Beal is about to turn 30, the team got younger by trading CP3 for him. I expect the Suns’ offense to be more up-tempo this season, which will help the offense by getting down the court quicker, giving the other team’s defense less time to get set. CP3 loved to walk the ball downfield which led to it a lot of the time.
The cons… yes, Beal has had some injury issues, but as Sam Cooper (@scooperhoops on Twitter) recently pointed out, some of that is a bit overblown.
’19-20: COVID shortened, played 57/72 games
’20-21: COVID, played 60/72
’21-22: Season-ending wrist surgery, misses final 32 games
’22-23: 50/82, but shut down for last 10 games to tank
And of course, it may turn out that the Suns will regret not having a true point guard to run the offense, but I highly doubt it. Trying to run a true PG with Beal, Book and KD could create even more problems defensively, as it would require playing Book or Beal at SF, which would make the Suns a smaller team in height.
Q2 – Woj has described DA’s market as “lean”, but the Suns will likely shop around him to acquire some solid rotation players to avoid having to fill the majority of their remaining roster spots with only vet minimum wage players. Do you think DA is likely to be traded anyway even if the returns for him are “underwhelming”?
OldAz: Put me in the minority here as I don’t believe the premise that DA will be moved for depth pieces. Ishbia seems comfortable with the labor cost and DA is good at 18/10 with decent defensive abilities like his FLOOR. Any trade involving DA for depth pieces would have to bring back a center and that center would have to be a decent 2-way player and make less money to add other players for depth (Jock and Biz aren’t even close to starting caliber ). For those depth players to be significantly better than the vet minimum options the Suns could get now, it’s more likely that center return would be a big drop from the DA, which then makes the Suns worse. Teams that have a lower price but comparable center to DA will not agree to a trade here.
Others have argued that DA will be moved for only Cap space (San Antonio?) then sign a FA center (Plumlee?), but DA cannot be moved without his approval until July 15th, and before then The Beal trade be done (it only works under the current CBA) so they can’t trade DA after 7/15 and actually have any flexibility to sign a FA center (who will all be signed by then anyway) . The only way I see DA moved is if DA wants to be traded. And while many, many, many couch potato mind readers on the interwebs believe that DA wants to change teams and be the main option elsewhere, he has never done or said anything to indicate this publicly. In fact, the only examples of DA showing frustration at not getting the ball more involve times when the rest of the team is struggling to score and he isn’t getting the ball.
When the team scores and wins, DA is his normal goofy fist pumping self. When Book ignores a wide-open DA but makes a circus shot that falls to the ground, the DA is often the first to pick Book up and celebrate. My belief is that DA is here to stay because no team trades a top flight cheaper of comparable ability, plus other pieces, to get DA. And the Suns aren’t trading DA for some depth pieces that might only be marginally better (if that) from the vet minimum players they can currently sign.
Dan-Fly: I think it’s 50/50 that Ayton will be traded before the season starts. I see this as an investment, suppose to buy low and sell high, right? Unless a team makes a decent offer, I think he will stay and improve his value. I think he stays until the trade deadline, after that?
Brrrberry: I would say that the probability is quite high that DA will play elsewhere next season. After turning CP and Shamet into Beal, I won’t be surprised by pretty much anything. I read this morning that the Suns believe they have the wherewithal to “blow right through” the second luxury tax apron.
I honestly have no idea what it means or how it’s done, but I REALLY like the sound of it. If part of “blowing right through” the 2nd luxury tax apron deals with Ayton, then so be it. If the trade package is underwhelming for someone who was underwhelming the last time he was on the field, that would make sense. Whatever puts the team in the best place to win I support and there is no doubt in my mind that winning is Ishbia’s only goal atm. Still, I won’t be mad if we go into the season with DA in the starting lineup, as we would have the potential to be an absolutely fantastic team if DA committed to having a career year.
Rod: I think it depends a lot on your definition of “underwhelming”. DA’s stock isn’t high right now, but I don’t think it’s bottomed either. Shams said recently that the Suns started getting a lot of calls about DA after the Beal trade, so there is definitely interest in him. The early offers probably won’t be good or even very good, but the Suns have all summer to trade, so I doubt they’ll be quick to jump on an early low-ball offer. And if they don’t get better as the summer goes on, I think they’ll just hang on to him and see if Vogel can get him to live up to some of that potential this season. The only way I can see them trading DA for a mediocre return is if DA actually demands a trade, and that might not actually be enough motivation for the front office to move on quickly.
Question 3 – Do you think the Suns will try to go with the “Point Book” this season or try to run a less conventional style offense using a “point guard by committee” approach?
OldAz: I think they will play a lot of both of these as I can’t see them adding a PG to the starting lineup. I personally see this as more PG of selection, which includes a decent amount of “Point Book” but also “Point Beal” and “Point Reaper”. I could even see some of JO bringing the ball up when he is the 5th player on the floor with that crew.
They will still carry a traditional PG to play 20-25 minutes a game when one of Book or BB is on the bench, but when both are on the floor it would be a mistake to force one of them into the SF role. Instead, I expect the Suns to add more size so KD is the “small” forward with Book and BB at guard (better defensively and less wear and tear on KD). This provides a massive frontline with 3 top options that can handle and score the ball and serious mismatches on any PnR action. Personally, I would love to see Bazely develop into the PF option as he has the physical skills to be exactly what the Suns need here.
Dan-Fly: I don’t see the team playing the point book as much, it may come down to how well Payne and Jordan handle that position, but obviously the experiment is on. Maybe in some cases you need size or defense over scoring that would replace the point guard, then you rely on the big three to handle the scoring. I just don’t see them going too far from established molds, but maybe just less reliance on one player to set up the attack. But I’ll have to see how it works before I judge. That’s a big variable for me.
Brrrberry: I envision a pseudo-triangle offense approach. Is Tex Winter or Phil Jackson interested in a consulting role? Cam Payne’s Game 6 performance reinforced that he’s a weapon unafraid of the bright lights of the playoffs, so I’m glad he’s back. Ultimately though, I think Book will get the most reps as the leading ball handler. I have to hope that Kevin Young is worth the 2 million that he will be paid because it will take a creative approach to make the most of this embarrassment of offensive riches.
Rod: I lean more towards the “point guard by committee” approach. As I mentioned in my Q1 answer, I think the Suns will play at a faster pace this season, which won’t give opposing defenses as much time to adjust. This should open up more easy passing/assist opportunities for whoever brings the ball downfield.
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:Which of the following 5 players the Suns are rumored to be interested in would be your top pick to get?“
29% – Immanuel Quickley (Knicks)
05% – Payton Pritchard (Celtics)
17% – Davion Mitchell (Kings)
24% – Monte Morris (Wizards)
26% – Gabe Vincent (Heat/FA)
A total of 819 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…