Cleat Geeks

1st Month Of The Season Had Everything Short Of An Epic Charles Barkley Rant

Image result for phoenix suns 50th anniversary logoThe first month of the 2017-’18 season sure has been a doozy for the Phoenix Suns. Celebrating their 50th season in the NBA, the Suns promptly lost their first game of the year by a franchise record 48 points. By their third game, Phoenix was off to an 0-3 start in the process of setting the NBA record of futility to start a season. Their point differential through the first three games of the season, -92, is now an NBA record. Suns head Coach, Earl Watson, and Point Guard, Eric Bledsoe, wouldn’t last long enough to see game number four.

After the third game of the season, when the team lost to the L.A. Clippers by 42, Bledsoe tweeted, “I don’t want to be here.”  After a meeting with GM Ryan McDonough, the team suspended Eric indefinitely and announced they were shopping Bledsoe. Watson was relieved of his coaching duties that same day as Eric received his suspension. Assistant coach Jay Triano took over on an interim basis for the rest of this season.

Eight games after the suspension was handed down from the organization, Eric Bledsoe was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for PF/Center Greg Monroe and potentially multiple draft picks. The Bucks will send its 2018 first-round pick to the Suns if it lands between Numbers 11 and 16. If the pick carries beyond 2018, Phoenix would get it in 2019 if Milwaukee picks between 4 to 16. If that isn’t the case then in 2020 the Suns would get the pick if it lands between 8 and 30. 2021 is when the pick would come unprotected. The Suns will get the Bucks’ 2018 second-round pick if it lands between 48 and 60. Otherwise, Milwaukee keeps the pick.

The suns timing to trade Eric Bledsoe was interesting, to say the least. After the initial 48-72 hours, from the time Bledsoe sent out his cryptic tweet to when the Suns won their first two games under Triano, the chatter from fans demanding Bledsoe be moved as quick as possible had simmered down. Rumored to be holding out for a deal until one arose which included a “young, talented player (McDonough was quoted as saying),” with high-upside, similarly to that of New York Knicks PG Frank Ntilikina or the Bucks PG Malcolm Brogdon. Both organizations were rumored to be hellbent to not include either in any deal for Bledsoe. It was apparent there wasn’t much of a market that included a high-upside player for a player who just backed his organization into a corner. At the time, GM Ryan McDonough reiterated that there was “no timetable” to trade the disgruntled point guard. The growing sentiment around the local media was that the Suns were more than likely going to wait until at least December 15th, the day that free agents who signed over the off-season were eligible to be traded from their new team, to move Bledsoe.

On November 5th, two weeks after receiving his suspension, it was reported that Eric would start using the team facilities but wouldn’t rejoin the team in any capacity. The expectation was he would return to the facilities the morning of November 7th. The basketball world woke up November 7th to the news that Bledsoe was traded for an expiring contract, in Monroe, and multiple draft picks. Raise your hand if that sounds like Suns Owner Robert Sarver flexing his power over McDonough, who may or may not be on the hot seat. It sure would be like the Owner of the Suns to not allow Bledsoe back in the building and demand the GM take the best deal he had on the table.

Image result for greg monroe phoenix suns

Supposedly going to never suit up for the Suns, as they were trying to configure another trade to him or possibly even outright release him, Monroe was forced into duty last night against the Houston Rockets for the ailing Tyson Chandler. In 26 minutes of game action, Monroe was the best Sun on the court, as he filled up the stat sheet en route to a 20 point, 11 rebound double-double. If there is no interest regarding Monroe on the trade market, the team might as well give him as much run as possible to build up his stats in the hopes of eventually drumming up enough interest from teams as the trade deadline approaches in February.

In the thirteen games since taking over the head coaching reigns, Jay Triano has led the team to a 5-8 record while only giving up 114 points per game. In the three games with Watson at the helm, the Suns game up 128 points per game. This Suns are currently last in the NBA in points given up per game, a full 2.5 points more than the next closest team. While Triano was 4-1 in his first games, the Suns have dropped seven of their last eight entering Fridays game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Before last nights game, in which Phoenix lost by 26 while giving up 142 points to the Rockets, the Suns biggest loss under coach Triano was 17. Which was progress considering the team was blown out by at least 42 in two of their three games under Watson.

Image result for jay triano sunsIf you break the season down in fifth’s, it’s safe to say that the only way is up for the Phoenix Suns. This team shouldn’t be judged on wins and losses, but by the growth of their core, young players. Outside of Devin Booker and T.J. Warren, both nearly have better numbers across the board this season, the growth for most of the other pieces has been minimal. Even though the Suns are second in the league in Pace of play this season, they rank 25th out of 30 in Offensive Effectiveness. Phoenix is also second to last in Simple Rating System; A rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule.

With an average team age of only 24 years old and three players age 20 or younger, growth can’t be forced with our Phoenix Suns. As of right now, the fact is most of the core are currently boys in a grown mans league. We have to keep reminding ourselves that patience is hopefully going to be a virtue when it comes down to “The Timeline” or whatever the kids call it nowadays.

I’ll leave you with this, for everyone who is worried about the first-round pick from this season, Josh Jackson, don’t stamp judgement on him yet. While his offensive game is as raw as it gets, take into consideration that he’s learning how to play in the NBA with a point guard situation that is one of the worst in the league. Also take note that with all of the Kawhi Leonard comparisons entering the draft, take a look at the similarity between the two players’ rookie years.

Leonard, Finals MVP, 2x all-star & 2x NBA defensive player of the year, was the more well rounded offensive player coming out of college (Hence his percentages).

In two less minutes per game & no legitmate starting NBA PG on the team, Jackson’s assists, steals, blocks and points are very similar to those of Kawhi’s in his rookie campaign.

“In a dark tunnel all we need is to move because no exit shall ever appear before us by itself.” – Author, Mehmet Murat Ildan

While Suns Nation is currently in one of the darkest times in our history, the hope is that some of these very young, talented pieces move closer to light, not deeper into the darkness, as the 2017 season progresses.





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