Contributing Writer: @NotRyanMcD
Today I will be sharing with you all the mid-season grades that a diverse group of #SunsTwitter members have given for all the current players on the Suns. Once this is posted, I encourage everyone who reads this to comment under the twitter post it is linked in with their thoughts on the different grades. That will be the place to explain yourself or condemn your fellow Suns’ fans’ horrible takes.
At the end, I will give a couple of awards, such as the most shocking answer, and the least shocking answer.
Before we get to that, I will go ahead and give my own brief breakdown of how I feel about each Suns player at the mid-season point. My own grades will be included with the rest in the chart after the player rundown.
Booker started the season slowly, due to a completely different style of play (slow and methodical half-court play instead of always looking for the fast break), and a new superstar backcourt running mate. He has since returned to form, but his early-season struggles may have lowered some of the grades you’ll soon see.
Chris also started the season a bit slow, but he has definitely rounded into form. He seemed to really turn the quarter during those couple of games when Devin Booker was out earlier in the season, giving the Suns the scoring boost they so sorely needed in Book’s absence, and he never looked back. He is shooting 48% from the field, 39% from three, and 95% at the free-throw line, averaging 16ppg 9apg and 5rpg, and only turning the ball over twice per game.
He is there when the Suns need him for a big shot or five, particularly in the fourth quarter. There is even a little bit of MVP buzz around him, though only from a few people. Most of the national NBA media seem to think that Chris Paul has a whole lot to do with the Suns going from a basically a .500 team last season (when you count the bubble run), to an elite team this season. And they’re not wrong.
Ayton looks like he is doing what he’s supposed to be doing on defense every night. Sometimes it’s a beautiful thing to watch. When he is doing that, and dialed in on offense, throwing it down like we know he can, it’s an even more lovely vision. Unfortunately, those two things don’t seem to coincide very often. I am very pleased with his development on defense, even if certain advanced stats don’t seem to think very fondly of it this season, but it’s disheartening that his offense seems to have stagnated a little.
I’m not sure whether that’s by Monty’s design or not. Maybe Ayton is doing exactly what he needs to be doing for this team to win games like it has. Either way, he hasn’t quite been the player I hoped he would be this season, even though he has been solid.
Bridges has become a much better offensive player this year. Whether it’s less shying away from the three-point shot, pulling up for little mid-rangers, or sprinting into two defenders and slamming it home, Mikal seems to be much less gun shy than he used to be, and he is doing it efficiently too. Mikal seems to be for real. His development on offense, paired with his trademark defense, makes him a heck of a player, and I’m very happy with his contributions so far this season.
Looking at Jae’s underwhelming FG%, you might think he’s shooting poorly, until you notice that of his 8 shots per game, 6 of them are three-point attempts, which he is hitting at a very respectable rate of 38%. Keep on letting it fly, Jae. He is bodying people on defense, making hustle plays, and shooting the lights out. Love what we’ve seen from him. This is basically everything I expected from him, so it won’t translate to an amazing grade from me, but a good one.
Dario, Dario. Where for art thou, Dario. I miss you when you are gone. I hold you close when you are near. Stay healthy, please. You are our Nephilim special boy. Okay okay. Dario is wonderful. He’s better defending the post and even switching onto the perimeter than you would expect, and when he is on the court, good things happen. Whether he is treating us to a Luis Scola-esq pump fake and scoop for a hoop, backing up a defender with that badonkadonk, and then zipping a pass out to a wide-open three-point shooter, or hitting a flat-footed three himself, he is a God walking amongst men. I wish he had been healthier. I honestly believe that with a healthy Dario all season so far, the Suns would have the best record in the NBA. Or tie the Jazz for it.
Cam started out the season strong, and then was derailed a little bit due to injuries/covid protocols, and an apparent shooting slump. Despite that, he is still shooting a respectable 37.8% from three, taking about 6 per game in 24 minutes, and continuing to show us that he has a little bit more in the bag than we thought we were getting when we first traded for the Tarheel who Monty has claimed is the kind of man he’d let marry his daughter. My mom has referred to him as a “nice young man”, which is the highest compliment she’s ever paid an NBA player. I’m glad he seems to have fixed that hairline too. Keep that edge up clean, Cam.
Payne’s minutes have been off and on this season. Sometimes due to injury, sometimes due to matchups. When he doesn’t “have it” on a certain night, Monty seems to go to somebody else, or just stagger Book and CP3 more and have Paul out there with Moore or Galloway.
However, that doesn’t happen too often when Payne gets to set foot on the court. He is shooting a scorching 45% from three (granted, on only 2.5 attempts per game) in 16 minutes per game, and treats us to a thrilling acrobatic finish every other night or so. Obviously, my favorite moments are win he does his patented Rain of Payne, and hits two F-you threes in quick succession, demoralizing his opponent.
The Beast Titan himself. Frank doesn’t deserve minutes over Dario at any time, ever. That being said, he has performed admirably for someone currently on a veteran minimum contract. He has been there when we needed him when Dario is out, and he also seems to be Monty’s starting lineup rabbit’s foot on this current streak of mostly wins.
Did y’all know Frank is hitting 41% from three? I know right? Not a bad guy to have waiting in the wings if you need him on any given night. It really is so weird though that Monty starts him, then he almost never seems to come back into the game when Dario is available because Dario is just so good. Anyway, he has definitely out-performed expectations.
Moore has been so weird. Obviously, he is doing something that Monty likes because he’s getting minutes over Galloway right now, continuously, even though he has been shooting horribly (23% from three… *shudders*). It’s very strange because he’s a career 39% from three. I suppose he’s a bit better of a defender than Galloway and has more gravity on the perimeter than Carter because of his years of being much better than this, and Carter shooting equally poorly himself this year. Anyway, he hasn’t lived up to my expectations for him. But he seems to be playing the right way, or he wouldn’t be getting the minutes he does with other options available.
Sir Langston is shooting a steam generating 45.7% from three but still not getting consistent minutes. This is probably due, at least in part, to his not really having many other moves on offense than this, and his lack of defensive ability. Despite his shooting, he has also underwhelmed, but that’s kind of just the narrative for each of these bench guards, really.
I’m sorry Jevon. My grade for you is very not good. I love you. Your passion and work ethic are admirable and I love to watch you defend. But you’ve just been so bad offensively this year. I hope it turns around, but without the minutes to do it, that may not happen. Luckily you just started a 3-year deal, so we have plenty of time (maybe?) to see a Jevon renaissance in the future.
Nader! Nader has blown away expectations. I didn’t expect to get a thing from him at all this season. Maybe some spot minutes when a bunch of injuries happen. He has appeared in 20 games, averaging about 15mpg, and is shooting almost 50% from the field, and 41% from three. I’m not sure whether this is a flash in the pan, a byproduct of playing with the Point God, or him just being better than anybody anywhere really expected, but either way, I’m happy about it.
I am not happy with what I’ve seen from Jalen Smith and if my grade could have been “T” for “Trade him to the Thunder for George Hill” I would have. That said, I am awful at appraising young talent, so someone smarter than me probably has seen some things that made them think he will be something one day.
Ty-Shon has averaged 0ppg 0rpg and 0apg in 2.7mpg in 3 games played. He has kind eyes.
Most shocking grade
@AytonsWRLD giving a B+ to Ayton instead of an A+2
Least shocking grade
@TheRealestJMark giving Kaminsky a grade of F-U
No surprise here, @nippstick giving Ty-Shon a grade of G(League)
Okay, that’s it for me today, y’all. Below are the @’s and links to the accounts to everyone in this article. Give a follow to anyone listed that you want to unless their beliefs/views/character drastically differ from your own in such a way as to result in arguments and drama. Or, you know, even then. We love the drama.
- @Talkin Suns
And, Mavs fan honorary member of Suns Twitter, special guest @MavsDraft
Categories: Phoenix Suns