NBA Fantasy Tiers: Phoenix Suns Players
Phoenix Suns, 11-6, 1st in Pacific Division
Nov 29 - Dec 4 games: @ Toronto, vs. Denver, vs. Memphis
Per game stats 2023: 117.2 PPG, 43.8 REB, 26.4 AST, 7.4 STL, 6.9 BLK, 47.9 FG%, 39.1 3PT%
Players to watch - 2023 season averages
PF Kevin Durant - 31.4 PPG, 7.1 REB, 5.5 AST, 1.2 BLK
SG Devin Booker - 29.6 PPG, 8.6 AST, 5.5 REB
C Jusuf Nurkic - 10.6 PPG, 9.0 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.1 BLK
The Phoenix Suns are a bit of a surprise as the leader of the Pacific Division 17 games into the 2023 NBA season. Winners of their last seven in a row entering the week, the Suns are hot. The ageless Kevin Durant is playing just under 37 minutes a game, leading the team in court time. After Bradley Beal (when healthy), Durant averages more assists per game than anyone else on the team. Devin Booker is back and featured after an extended absence, averaging almost 30 points and 8 assists in the last five games. Jusuf Nurkic is a steady though not spectacular big man who is very close to averaging a double-double on the season.
The Suns are good three point shooters as a team (39.1% on the season). Booker, Durant, and Grayson Allen are all better than 45% beyond the arc in 2023. About 25% of all the rebounds that the Suns pull are on the offensive end. The team assist-to-turnover ratio is about 1.8:1, which isn’t bad. The Suns will not overwhelm you with steals of blocks, with Nurkic leading the team in each category. There’s no-one to be in love with coming off the end of the bench.
This week’s schedule will be challenging for Phoenix with a long-haul road game and two home tilts. First up is a trip north to visit the Toronto Raptors, who at 8-9 are just fifth in the competitive Atlantic Division. Next, the Suns settle back at home for the rest of the week and welcome the Denver Nuggets. To wrap the week, the Suns will test themselves at home against the very beatable Memphis Grizzlies, where the key to victory is not to allow a letdown in play.
How will the Phoenix Suns and their key players do this week? Let’s get into with a look at every matchup, and spotlight one player who needs a standout performance each game.
@ Toronto Raptors, November 29th
On November 29, the Suns head north to challenge the middling Toronto Raptors, who could be a lot better if they shot the ball well consistently. When on their game (they are 5-4 and score more PPG at home), the Raptors can be dangerous. Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and O.G. Anunoby can all go-off as scorers and the team assist-to-turnover ratio is solid at 2:1. One Raptors player that may be on his back foot in this matchup is PG Dennis Schroder. When matched against a superior scoring threat who can D-up, the German PG can turtle -- he tightens up and loses tempo and feel. That’s not Schroder’s M.O. as a player, but it is a tendency he shows every few games, and I am guessing this will be one of them.
This is Devin Booker’s night to own. For the last five games, the Suns pivot has been electric, averaging 30 points in 35 minutes of court time and recording two double-doubles. In that span, the Suns have averaged 120 PPG and gone 5-0, including 3-0 on the road. This game and this matchup are scripted for Booker to have a good night. He’s absolutely worth a grab on your fantasy tiers.
vs. Denver Nuggets, December 1st
On December 1, Nikola Jokic will lead the Denver Nuggets to Phoenix for a primetime showdown in the desert versus the Suns. The Nuggets are struggling as of late, losers of four of their last five, all on the road. If ever the time has been better for the Suns to record a key win against a top opponent, I’m not sure when it was, but first they need to limit Jokic, a legit double-double threat every night he is on the court: 33.8 PPG, 13.5 REB, 8.9 AST. Given a healthy Jokic, I don’t think the Suns matchup in the paint, which means a different sort of big man will need to play a different kind of game for the Suns.
Enter Kevin Durant. In his last nine games played, Durant has shot 54% from the field, better than 97% from the foul line, and an astonishing 61.4% from three point land. All this while averaging 33.7 PPG, 7.1 REB and 6.1 AST. Durant is not Nokic, Nokic is not Durant. They will match up with one another only sometimes, and when they do, Jokic will win on the glass and Durant will win shooting from distance. I like the Suns to compete for the win at home, and Kevin Durant to stretch the Nuggets defense with his long range shooting.
@ Memphis Grizzlies, December 2nd
Finally, on December 2, the Phoenix Suns get the struggling Memphis Grizzlies, who sit at a miserable 3-13 and fourth in the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies team statline is reflective of their record: 106.2 PPG, 42.0 REB 22.1 AST, 7.7 STL, 1.1 BLK, a weak 42.5 FG%, 33.1 3PT%, and 77.6 FT%. They also turn the ball over nearly 22 times per game -- very, very bad. In short, Memphis is a team lacking talent and consistency in key roles. SG Desmond Bane is probably the best player on the court for Memphis, followed by PF Jaren Jackson Jr. There’s not a true 5 on the Grizzlies beyond bench depth player Bismarck Biyombo. That sets up our spotlight player for the Suns vs. Memphis.
C Jusuf Nurkic needs to step up in this one. There is no god given reason to be seven feet tall and pushing almost 300 pounds and not own the glass against the Grizzlies. Nurkic needs to establish his physicality on the night, bump some bodies, use his limit of fouls, and generally be a bully. This is a prime opportunity for Nurkic to go over his season averages and book a firm double-double, and that is just what I am banking on him for in this game. Get out there and get your elbows up big man!
With just three games over a seven day window and two of those at home, the Phoenix Suns will face wide ranging competition on the week. If healthy, they have a chance to exit the week well, but that will have a lot to do with how well some individual matchups shakeout each game.
On November 29, it is a healthy Devin Booker’s night to shine on the road against the Toronto Raptors. On December 1, the Suns return home to face a tough Denver Nuggets team that Kevin Durant will need to be locked and loaded for. Finally, on December 2, the Suns will face a trap game against the Memphis Grizzlies -- it will be important for the Suns and particularly Jusuf Nurkic not to have a let down on the night.
All-in-all, I like the Suns to go 2-1 this week, with Devin Booker to average more than 30 PPG, Kevin Durant to stay strong from three point land, and Jusuf Nurkic to get tested in the paint. All three players are worth attention on your tiers, but give particular favor to Durant and Booker.
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