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 – A lot has been said about the aging of CP3 and how Suns will soon need to find a point of protection for the future. If you could trade CP3 now for any other PG in the NBA, who would it be?
OldAz: There are already a lot of good young point guards all over the league right now. I didn’t realize how many there were until I started looking at this question (well, Atlanta now has a couple of really good ones). Any number of these young PGs would be a great fit for Suns over the next five to ten years. My personal favorite, if we can trade CP3 for any Guard point today, is Ja Morant. I usually prefer the Steve Nash/CP3 type that makes it easier to attack others first and can still shoot the lights out from 3. However, the raw sport that Ja brings is just a game changer and brings an element that the Suns sorely lack. Ja is still a talented passer, and he shoots very well, but his intense physical skills put him in the lead as my first choice.
Cliff 30: I’m going to cheat on this. I will be trading CP3 for Jayson Tatum. Now I understand that it is not a “PG”. But he is the main player of his team. Certainly there are a lot of dynamic PGs out there. But Luca and Tre are two dominant players on the ball and would question their suitability for Booker and not play in defence. Ja would be the option if you’re stuck with only PG. But instead, give me the dynamic winger who can be the baseball player and play ball so we can increase the poker industry as well.
The lineup of Poker, Cam, Bridges, Tatum and Eaton is insane. It’s a real movement toward placement-free basketball. Defensively, they are long and stooped and will be claustrophobic. Tatum is not the best winger in the NBA. But he was good enough to be the MVP of last year’s team and has no age/injury concern from LeBron/KD/Kuhi. At 23, his best years are likely ahead of him.
Jim C: If I’m allowed to pick anyone, sign me up for Ja Morant if you can keep it long. Maybe Stephen Curry if you only get one season. These reasons should be very clear.
If I look at what the base type survey would be that fits well with the current roster, I think the team needs more passing as a first-choice goalkeeper like Chris Paul. I think Ayton needs at least a little bit more of an attacking role, so it helps to have someone who is good at getting the ball to him where he can be effective.
Darius Garland does everything well. Dejounte Murray doesn’t shoot triples very well, but he’s very good at everything else. It’s also a great playmaker and the lack of Suns out there will help. LaMelo Ball also fits this law. The Suns wouldn’t trade to any of those people either (obviously).
In terms of someone they can replace and make the team even better next season… I don’t see it. I think Chris Paul is the best option to win now.
Stick: With everything in mind – general talent, athletic performance and age – I still felt very pressured to choose between Ja Morant and Luka Doncic. They are both young and can score but they have some very important differences that will have an impact on the rest of the team. Ja is the sportiest by far and the fastest/fastest but Luca is the best passer and three points. Luca is physically bigger and recovers better than Ja but makes fewer turns and fouls.
I’d love to have either, but in the end, the potential compatibility with the team we already have makes me choose Morant. Dallas played the slowest pace in the NBA last season, and Memphis is third (the Suns were ninth). It certainly wasn’t decided by them alone, but he told me Ja would probably be better suited to the Suns’ current offensive style.
Q2 – What do you think will be the pros and cons of starting Cam Johnson in power forward?
OldAz: In the NBA today, I’m seeing more pros than cons, with a lot of teams playing smaller “5-out” formations and not using PF anymore. Cam obviously provides a much better shot from distance and is a very good pass in attack. While Jay is a better individual defender, Cam can hold his own and is rarely out of position. From a team defense perspective, I don’t think that’s as sharp a drop as many might imagine. In today’s NBA, shooting and improved 3-point spacing are probably good enough reason to try it out.
For me, the biggest “minuses” would be the recoil and the long cumulative season on the cam body. Jae isn’t a good builder either, but that’s a serious weakness for Suns and casting Cam as a beginner does nothing to remedy it. Then there’s a good chance Cam’s offensive production will start to wear off or he has more missions on the IR due to regular hitting with bigger NBA Power attackers. Not every team has Julius Randle physically playing at 4, so the Suns could get away with that in the regular season only to have a big problem come in playoff time when they face a bigger team (Lakersbells, bucks, etc.).
Cliff 30: The biggest advantage is obvious. It’s a big attack upgrade. He’s a lot better than a 3-point shot and although he doesn’t make a lot of shots of his own, he has two far more unsupported pointers than Jay. The downside is a slight decrease in bounce and loss of fitness. Cam is a good defender. But he won’t body the people in the post like Jay does. We’ll have to do some defensive scheming to make sure no one else but Ayton leaves one body on one low. The other big dip, who scores on the bench unit? The bench struggled at times last season and that was with Cam averaging 12.5 off the bench. Swap it for Crowder and this unit will really struggle unless you prevent a serious upgrade on Payne and Shamet.
Jim C: I think if Cam Johnson is one of the top five players on the team, which I think, you should try this lineup to see if it works. There are certainly players who are willing to sacrifice for the good of the team, but everyone wants to start. If Johnson wants to start Suns, he needs to see if he can succeed.
The bigger question is the strength of Cam and his ability to guard the position. At 6’8″ tall and just the right length, he’s sized that way, but at 210 pounds, does he have the strength and mass that guys on the block have? Crowder weighs 235. Dario Saric looks pretty slender these days, but he’s listed at 225. Cam also isn’t Great character.Crowder wasn’t really either, but it will still give you an extra pad compared to Cam.
Besides these issues, Cam is a very dynamic defender, and Mikal is never afraid to take on a tough showdown, so I don’t understand why it didn’t work out. Attitudes usually have only the positive side. The other side of the coin is that the other team will have to figure out how they will approach this squad defensively.
Stick: For me, it’s very simple. Cam J gives Suns more offensive options while giving up some defense and a small amount of bounce when swapping for Jae Crowder. The camera also has offensive versatility and is not limited to shooting triples only. Jae can do some of that too, but he always looks a little awkward when he’s forced off the three-point line and has to take a shot out of the move or drive to the basket.
Then there is also the question of who will (hopefully) take the role of the sixth player off the bench. I’m not at all confident that we actually have anyone else on the list who could fill this role. If Crowder hadn’t traded before training camp and the roster pretty much stayed the same now, I’d prefer Suns Cam to keep as the sixth man.
Q3 – Among the Suns bench players, who are the people you most care to watch during pre-season games?
OldAz: All the newcomers excite me to some degree. My main pre-season interest will be watching Okogie’s sports and how it fits in. Also, after Saric’s high profile events in the European League, I’m interested to see how his renewed sport is tackling the growing talent levels in the NBA. Dario was a bench staple a couple of years ago, and judging by the highlights I’ve seen, he somehow looks healthier and leaner than I remember. Hopefully this isn’t just a low competitive product and if it isn’t, Dario could be a major contributor next season.
Cliff 30: Dario against an NBA talent after looking so healthy on the outside? Duane Washington Jr. because I’m kind of optimistic about him, Jock Landall because he’s the guy I’m least familiar with? Honestly, all I care about is keeping everyone healthy in pre-season.
Jim C: Well, if Cam starts… and the Suns trades with Bogdanovic… that means Bojan is going off the bench… so I’d be very interested in watching him play. Obviously, I support those trade rumours.
To be honest, it has to be Dario. He looks good now that he is finally back on the field with Croatia in the Eurobasket qualifiers. Let’s not forget that two years ago Saric had 11 points and six rebounds per game while playing strong and smart basketball. He’s a strong rotation player… and he’s 28. He’s in full swing.
I also want to see him again on the field. As someone who has suffered major sports related injuries, I always hate seeing this happen to anyone else and wish them a speedy and complete recovery.
Stick: Oh boy, there are so many things worth mentioning.
First, I really want to take a look at Dario. The clips I’ve seen him play at EuroBasket matches looked good but that’s mostly against non-NBA level competition so you can’t draw too many conclusions from it. He looks fit and healthy in them and I swear he looks like he might have gotten a little thinner and moving faster/better than I can remember before the knee injury. During pre-season, I would like to see him get some time at PF.
Duane Washington Jr. is another guy I want to take a closer look at. His stats with Indy were very good last season and he has a very good three-shot (37.7%) which is always a welcome addition. He feels more like a combo ranger than a PG although I would like to see Suns give him some pre-season time in PG to see how well he does as a playmaker.
Jock Landale also has some potential as an Extension 5 and I want to get an idea of how well he fits into the Suns attack… and a look at his rebounding and defensive skills. I’m sure it’ll just be the end of the bench, but how far he might be down that ladder is still a question mark.
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 wasShould the suns…”
18% – Go ahead and use the taxpayer MLE to sign the best player available right now.
82% – Hold the TP MLE until the buy market starts.
A total of 236 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…
News of a possible jazz sale surfaced a day after I sent in great questions for the week, so I’m putting this question now for everyone to answer instead of waiting for a week.
Which Utah Jazz player do you most hope the Sun will trade with?
320 votes total