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.
Amazing question of the week
Q1 – Book, Beal and KD averaged 27.8, 23.2 and 29.1 points per game. game (respectively) last season, averaging 80.1 ppg for 3 players. Do you think this trio will average the same total ppg this season, more, less and who do you think will be the Suns leading scorer in 2023/24?
Saving: I think overall the trio might average a little less than they did last year. It is certainly possible that they average the same out of even more. We saw Booker’s average skyrocket every time he played alongside KD. I think Book and KD will be very close for the scoring leader on our team. However, I will give KD a slight edge and Booker to lead the team in assists.
OldAz: The easy answer is to say there is only 1 ball so all their averages will drop. Personally, I think this is flawed logic, and as crazy as it sounds, their average per games actually increase. The last few years, KD took between 18-20 shots per game. game at around 55%, Book was around 20 and Beal was between 18-20, both around 50%. I would even include DA in this logic and he only took 12-13 shots at around 60% rate. This is a total of between 68-73 shots per match among the 4. In previous years these 3 were number 1 on their team and would attract a LOT of attention. That can’t happen when they all play together, so it’s actually natural that everyone could get easier shots than before and thus shoot a higher percentage.
The only question is whether they can all still average 68-73 shots between them. I looked across the league and many teams are averaging around 90-92 shots per game. match. Depending on the rotation patterns, I could definitely see the top 4 options on the team getting 70+ shots out of the 90. The Warriors top 4 in Curry, Thompson, Poole & Wiggins shot 68 per game. game last year on a team that averaged 92 shots. Also top 5 Celtics (Tatum, Brown, White, Smart & Brodgdon) accounted for about 70 shots on a team that took about 88 shots a game. Basically, this is enough evidence to me that each of these guys could still get their recent averages in shot attempts AND those shots could be cleaner and more open, so surpassing those scoring averages is definitely possible.
As for who the leading scorer will be, it could be any of the 3 of them and will likely be up to the defense they play against. My money would be on Booker as this is clearly his team despite all the talent around him.
Dan-Fly: I think KD’s and Beal’s points may be down a bit, but Book’s up. Beal will be the de-facto point guard and concentrate more on getting others involved more than scoring himself.
KD won’t be the only one on his team to score big, so concentrating on other things to help the team win won’t be his main focus anymore, and that’s a good thing. Last year we saw how Book was helped by KD’s presence, and it gets even better with defenders having to guard so many other good shooters, making his life that much easier. Of course, all three can and will go off when necessary.
Brrrberry: I expect 75-80ppg average from the 3 of them. I so badly want Ayton to make this a big 4 so we can spend this season trailing the Suns as the first team to have 4 guys averaging triple digits! Let’s go DA! Their combined average playing together I’d be a little under 75, but as the season starts and guys miss time with injuries, the cumulative number will go up, because on nights when only two of the stars play, the average can get close to 60 for just two of them. That’s amazing numbers for a trio, it’s exciting to be able to even speculate on something like that. I saw a clip of Beal getting up the other day and man is his shot beautiful.
Rod: I think overall it will be about the same total for all three or maybe a little lower depending on the minutes each plays. All should be able to reduce their minutes at least a bit (especially with Eric Gordon coming off the bench) without really hurting the team’s ability to score. Plus, if DA just averages the same 18 ppg he averaged last season, we look very good offensively.
This team will likely play at a faster pace than last season, which would provide more scoring opportunities for everyone, which shouldn’t cut into anyone’s shot attempts, and with all three of them on the court together, I have a hard time believing open shots won’t come more often as long as they keep the ball moving.
As for the scoring leader, I’m picking KD simply because he will take the least share of the PG duties of the three and will be able to concentrate more on just getting open and putting the ball in the bucket. And we shouldn’t assume Beal will win the Suns’ 3rd leading scorer behind KD and Book. In 2019/20 and 2020/21, he averaged 30.5 and 31.3 ppg, so he is very capable of being right there in the mix for top scorer this season.
Q2 – Your thoughts on the Suns trading Cam Payne to the Spurs?
Saving: It makes sense from the point of view that we have to pay $26 million in taxes for 1 year of Cameron Payne. But we’re really thin at point guard now, and we have to put a lot of faith in Jordan Goodwin. Payne was very inconsistent the last 2 years he played and he was also injured often. I get the move and it gives us some flexibility for a possible move later in the year. Not a needle mover trade by any means.
OldAz: Makes perfect sense to me when you factor in the nearly $25M cap savings. (after Bol was added). He would probably compete for 2nd/3rd. The PG position with Goodwin. When you consider on-call minutes available per game after Book, Beal, and Gordon, you probably only have ~12 minutes for those two players anyway (barring injuries), and Goodwin is both cheaper and has more upside. In the end, I felt the Suns needed a 3rd center for injury and foul protection, so that was a need for a higher priority on the roster at the moment. Jones relieved Payne and picked up a major Trade Exception that could be used in the middle of the season when he sees what this team actually needs and after the new parts everyone plays together.
Dan-Fly: I’ve had some time to think about the trade and I see some subtle advantages, these include:
- Gives Cam a chance to play more (if they keep him)
- Generates almost seven million TPE which can be used for another trade now or in the future
- Opens up a roster spot for Bol, who we intended to sign
- Giving Goodwin a bigger role and chance to develop
- Saves about $30 million even after Bol
- Show Vogel’s intent to use Beal and Goodwin as the main playmakers, which would have left Payne on the bench eating $30 million of the Mats’ money. And frankly, he’s not worth it.
Brrrberry: I like the Payne trade and even more the determination from the front office. They tried to rally him to McConnell, Indy didn’t bite, so what did the Suns do? They got rid of him for a trade exception, which will likely make it easier to acquire the type of player they want to round out the roster with.
The Suns in the past would have made every team in the league think/know they were desperate for a PG and never got one anyway. It is best to let the window of opportunity come our way. Not to mention all this concern about the lack of a pure PG is interesting to me now that I see it through a new lens. 4 of the top 5 (Nash/Kidd/CP3/Stockton) pure passing, floor type PGs of all time won ONE RING. Guess how many seasons the infamous floor generals played in total to collect that one ring? 76 seasons. 1 ring. It’s almost like having an absolutely amazing, clean PG is the last thing you want if you’re trying to win a ring.
Rod: I have a bit of a soft spot for Payne, but I think it’s best for everyone. In Goodwin, the Suns have a younger defensive-minded player — who still has some potential to improve — to take Payne’s spot in the rotation, and Payne gets a fresh start on a new team. Payne also gets to play for one of the NBA’s greatest coaches ever in Pop, who might be able to work some coaching magic that would help CP15 actually improve his game a bit. The $6.5 million TPE the Suns got back in the trade works out well IMO because the Suns can take their time and use it (or not) later when their roster needs may become clearer.
Q3 – Your thoughts on the Suns signing of Bol Bol?
Saving: Bol Bol is going to get a lot of hype, but I’d be shocked if he cracked our normal rotation unless someone got hurt. He may have some special highlights, but he has been a poor NBA player in his short career. Maybe giving him a very specific role will unlock him? I do not know. But he’s definitely worth a flyer for a 15th man on the roster. Low risk, potential really high reward. The most likely scenario is that he just rides the bench all year.
OldAz: “No matter what”. I felt that one list hole was a solid 3rd string center. It is a physical position where injuries and ill health can be a problem. However, I thought Biz was actually the best option because he’s a veteran who focuses on defense and doesn’t demand many (or even regular) minutes. I’m also not a fan of Bol Bol’s highlight reel that shows him trying to be something he clearly isn’t. The Suns don’t need a center trying to dribble and take it coast to coast after a rebound. We don’t need a center who lifts 3s with a low %. We need a center that will defend, rebound and make shots when the defense leaves them open. On the other hand we are talking about 3rd string Center as DA and Eubanks are clearly better and at 24 he definitely has more upside than Biz so it certainly can’t hurt to give him a shot.
Dan-Fly: Signing a 23-year-old seven footer with skills to mine is upside down. He seems durable and Vogel has another option to defend certain players and I think he will be a surprise to many. He’s not an All-Star, but can be a good role player, basically taking Cam’s spot. No offense, but Cam has hit the ceiling and I don’t see much future improvement there. Bol is just getting started and has lots of potential for improvement, with very little risk to the Sun. All upside down.
Brrrberry: Rooting for Bol and growing as a player and contributing this season will be great fun. He’s on record as being a huge KD fan, so hopefully he’ll become a basketball junkie like KD and flourish because of it. I’m an eternal optimist so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bol turns into a 6MOY type player for us THIS season. I’ve already thought about how we’re going to keep him if he goes missing, as I expect.
Rod: Bol Bol is a bit of a question mark for me. I remember being very impressed by an article I read about him a long time ago when he was 15 or 16 and thought he had exceptional potential. He has yet to live up to first impressions, but I don’t think it’s because the tools aren’t there, I just don’t think he’s figured out the NBA yet.
At the very least, he’s a low-risk signing that the Suns don’t expect to suddenly figure it all out like they did when they acquired Michael Beasley back in 2012. Beasley was an attempt at a broken longshot bet (that obviously didn’t pay off), and Bol is more of a minor side bet that can pay off big if it doesn’t break you. It was a good move by Phoenix to sign him.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra efforts this week!
Last week’s poll results
Last week’s question was:That Phoenix Suns current list…”
39% – Is good to go as it is!
59% – Still needs a few minor tweaks before the season begins.
02% – Has some major bugs to fix!
A total of 470 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…