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Aside from continued Kevin Durant speculation, this is the NBA’s dead season. So what better time for a Phoenix Suns mailbag, the day before this writer hops on a plane for his Hawaii vacation?
From Suns-related questions to hit TV show quandaries to random questions about yours truly, let’s dive right in.
What is your deepest fear? — @JacobPadilla_
Nah but for real, it’s either outliving everyone I love and dying alone, or heights.
Do you think the Deandre Ayton signing will fix a lot of the off-court drama Phoenix had last season and put them right back at the top of the West? Or do you think they will start to regress with Chris Paul a year older and the frustration of how the last two years ended hanging over them? — @CandlestickWill
It could probably make me look stupid in a few months, but I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying for weeks: I think a lot of the Suns’ drama has been overblown.
The criticism and panic is understandable, given how their season ended. The Suns entered the playoffs as heavy favorites to win the title, and they royally shit the bed in a way they hadn’t over the last two years. Even in that 2021 Finals series where they lost four straight, they were simply beaten by a championship-caliber Milwaukee Bucks team, led by a living legend in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Luka Doncic may have delivered the final blow in Game 7 last year, but most of Phoenix’s wounds were self-inflicted.
But even after DA’s sideline spat with Monty Williams/signing an offer sheet with another team/all the COVID-19 reports/everything else, I have a hard time believing the Suns will be anything less than title contenders on a mission. As many young teams and eventual champions do, they took their playoff lumps — in a way they didn’t experience during that magical 2021 playoff run.
Ayton and Williams already publicly buried the hatchet in a well-written article from Marc J. Spears, and for all the consternation over CP3’s performance once he turned 37, this is largely the same group as last year’s 64-win team. Minor-to-moderate improvements from Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and even Devin Booker (who turns 26 in October) could be enough to compensate for an aging Point God and put them over the top. And that’s not even including the possibility of a certain blockbuster trade….
Which new acquisition has the best chance to be a Suns rotation player long-term (i.e. more than a year or two)? — Sunderous Dunks
How do the offseason additions fit team needs? – ASUDavid82
If you missed it, I’ve written at length about what the Suns can expect from Damion Lee, Jock Landale, Josh Okogie and Duane Washington Jr. We were also lucky enough to have Landale and Washington on the PHNX Suns Podcast, for those curious about what makes them tick off the court.
For now, I’ll go with Landale. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, which makes it easier for Phoenix to retain him. Bismack Biyombo’s future is only guaranteed for next season as well.
If the Suns swing a Kevin Durant trade, however, my answer probably shifts to Okogie, who would automatically become the Suns’ best point-of-attack defender.
Are you 100 percent sure you aren’t related to ASU backup QB Trenton Bourguet? — @WestBoiseRoyZ
I’m pretty positive there’s nobody with that much athletic talent in our family tree, but I have literally never met anyone with the last name “Bourguet” who wasn’t somehow related to our small little clan from New Mexico. I may need to dig further.
How did you get into reporting? — @ProSportsFan123
Did you grow up in New Mexico? — @Ryn_Hnly
Too long of a topic to write out here, but we’ll discuss my background (and Lindsey’s) on Tuesday’s PHNX Suns Podcast. Tune in at 2 p.m. AZ time!
Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, which takes the cake? — @ColtonOliver8
Better Call Saul finished up its sixth and final season Monday night in absolutely superb fashion. As an Albuquerque native and TV elitist, Breaking Bad has always been the GOAT for me. Now that BCS is done, this is the big talking point: Is the original still better, or has the unlikely spinoff usurped its predecessor?
On the Mount Rushmore of all-time TV dramas, the consensus seems to be BB, The Wire and The Sopranos in some order, with all three having a case for No. 1. After wrapping things up in perfectly fitting fashion — and I say this as someone who’s rewatched all four series over the last two years — I’d submit BCS deserves that fourth and final spot, probably even ahead of Sopranos.
Personally, I’m not putting Better Call Saul ahead of Breaking Bad. This is no knock on BCS; when a spinoff was first announced, there was trepidation that this was the case of a creator falling in love with his baby and not knowing when to walk away. I thought it’d be good, but I had little hope it would even eclipse the long shadow BB cast.
Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould proved me and everyone else completely wrong. The fact that BCS even came close to living up to BB is a testament in and of itself, but there’s a case to be made that it surpassed its predecessor. The character development, attention to detail and cinematography were truly unparalleled, even compared to Breaking Bad.
With that being said, one of the biggest reasons some struggled to get into BCS was its comparatively lower stakes. Those who gave up early missed an unforgettable ride, but having re-binged both over the last few months, the last three seasons of BB are still an untouchable, nonstop roller coaster, with the final two seasons belonging in TV’s pantheon of all-time great seasons. From the sheer magnitude of thrilling plot points, iconic performances and devastating but well-calculated twists, only a handful of “holy shit” moments from BCS lived up to the onslaught of bombs BB routinely dropped on viewers.
Both shows are extensive enough to be scrutinized episode by episode. Meticulously soaking in every creative camera shot, every bit of foreshadowing, and every bit of well-acted dialogue from incredibly deep casts is not only warranted with shows of this caliber, but imperative. Rapidly binging through either one dulls the effect of the brilliance that went into them, and I think BB got the short end of the stick with how fast people sped through it just to discover what all the buzz was about, rather than watching week-to-week like BCS.
In the end, it’s a matter of preference. For all their similarities in a shared universe, they’re quite different. Even with lower stakes, BCS got off to a more confident, polished start because the show-runners had spent six years perfecting their craft with BB. Nothing will ever match the gripping, exhilarating descent into hell that was Walter White’s moral decaying, but you could argue Saul Goodman’s journey did less with more, turning a one-dimensional source of comic relief into a tragic and compelling character study.
Best TV shows in the last 5 years, in your opinion? — @WSCRY30
In no particular order, here are the shows I’ve most enjoyed that either started or (mostly) ran within the last five years.
- Better Call Saul: 6 seasons (Netflix)
- BoJack Horseman: 6 seasons (Netflix)
- Barry: 3 seasons (HBO Max)
- Peaky Blinders: 6 seasons (Netflix)
- Mr. Robot: 4 seasons (Amazon)
- You’re The Worst: 5 seasons (Hulu)
- Invincible: 1 season (Amazon)
- Succession: 3 seasons (HBO Max)
- Ted Lasso: 2 seasons (Apple TV+)
- Squid Game: 1 season (Netflix)
- The Boys: 3 seasons (Amazon)
- Attack on Titan: 4 seasons (Hulu, Crunchyroll)
- Snowfall: 5 seasons (Hulu)
- Rick and Morty: 5 seasons (HBO Max)
- Euphoria: 2 seasons (HBO Max)
- Severance: 1 season (Apple TV+)
- Dave: 2 seasons (Hulu)
- What We Do In The Shadows: 4 seasons (Hulu)
- Mythic Quest: 2 seasons (Apple TV+)
- Sex Education: 3 seasons (Netflix)
- The Mandalorian: 2 seasons (Disney+)
- Harley Quinn: 3 seasons (HBO Max)
- Letterkenny: 10 seasons (Hulu)
- Servant: 3 seasons (Apple TV+)
- WandaVision: 1 season (Disney+)
- Loki: 1 season (Disney+)
- Ms. Marvel: 1 season (Disney+)
- When They See Us: 1 season (Netflix)
I think you know what I’m going to ask, but it’s the perfect forum for it so here we go: Did you start Arcane yet? And if no, when? — @JTetreau11
Not yet, I’m sorry! While the offseason does open up more free time, I’ve been keeping up with my weekly shows (BCS, Barry, Westworld, What We Do In The Shadows, The Boys, Harley Quinn, Tuca & Bertie, The Bachelorette and F-Boy Island) and catching up on some more recent goodies (Stranger Things, Severance, The Rehearsal, Abbott Elementary).
With new seasons of Archer, Rick and Morty and Cobra Kai to look forward to over the next month, plus new shows like The Sandman, She-Hulk, House of the Dragon, Andor and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on the way, Arcane might take me a minute.
But I promise…one day soon!
In your honest opinion, do you believe Devin Booker is a first option on a championship team? Or do you see him as more of a Robin? — @ColtonOliver8
Even after last year’s Dallas Mavericks collapse, my answer is still yes.
Booker’s performances in Games 6 and 7 — a combined 30 points on 9-of-31 shooting with 12 turnovers — were inexcusable. But those also came less than a year after dropping 46 to close out LeBron James and the defending champs in his first-ever playoff series, hanging a 40-point triple-double without CP3 in the Western Conference Finals, and registering back-to-back 40-point games in the Finals. How quickly they forget!
No, the Suns didn’t get over the hump that year. No, they didn’t have anyone capable of elevating their game to Giannis or Luka levels in those playoff defeats, and yes, I’m aware all of these facts directly contradict my argument. But the Suns were two wins away from a title in this group’s first playoff run together, and they were the overwhelming favorites to win it all last year until they imploded…all with Devin Booker as their best player.
If everyone stays healthy and the Suns actually play like the Suns — preferably without a hamstring injury or other malady striking in the playoffs — I’m sticking with my gut that Book can be the best player on a championship team.
Our last two postseasons have ended with significant injury speculation. Does the NBA have rules on disclosing injury info similar to the NFL? I get the benefit of concealing the info, but other leagues have rules about this for a few reasons … not the least of which is wagering. — @jeffboele
Here’s the league’s rules for disclosing injury, according to the NBA Official website:
“NBA teams must report information concerning player injuries, illnesses and rest for all NBA games. By 5 p.m. local time on the day before a game (other than the second day of a back-to-back), teams must designate a participation status and identify a specific injury, illness or potential instance of a healthy player resting for any player whose participation in the game may be affected by such injury, illness or rest. For the second game of a back-to-back, teams must report the above information by 1 p.m. local time on the day of the game.”
The NBA gives its players/teams leeway. When Booker returned from his hamstring injury against the New Orleans Pelicans despite being officially listed as “out” for most of the day leading up to Game 6, the Suns only got hit with a fine. The league’s more lax COVID-19 testing doesn’t help, since it was basically the honor system: If you felt sick or exhibited symptoms, it was on the player to come forward and submit to a test. Mandatory daily testing, for whatever reason, wasn’t a thing in the playoffs.
But no matter the case, the biggest problem is players will try to play through almost anything with their seasons on the line. Unless it’s a debilitating injury, these are the most confident dudes on earth, who have been the best at what they do for their entire lives. In the postseason, they’re not going to pull themselves out or manage nagging injuries the same way they would during the regular season. That explains the vast majority of what we saw the last two years with Paul and Booker playing through injury.
What’s your thought on Al McCoy coming back? — @M_Simpson8
If Al McCoy wants to come back, you bring Al McCoy back. Until that man gets to call that long-awaited, championship-clinching Suns game, it’s a no-brainer.
I enjoy watching sports to get my mind off of everyday things including politics. Do you think talking politics is good for sports reporting? — GaryKin86415150
Speaking strictly from a career perspective, no, it’s typically not wise for sports reporters to talk about politics. A lot of people in this field keep their mouths shut on topics that can be construed as “political” because most of those issues are sensitive in nature. It’s easier to stay silent.
However, many things that are labeled as “political” aren’t political at all. A lot of them are basic human rights issues, and I’ve never held back my opinions in that regard. I understand sports are an escape to forget about the problems of the world, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that most of us are privileged to be able to do so. Some of these “political” issues that we try to escape from are things that affect these athletes on a daily basis. They can’t just ignore it, so it’s strange to me how comfortable some people are with expecting athletes to turn their feelings off, shut up, and simply play a game for others’ amusement.
“Politics” have long appeared in sports, and while it’s not always necessary for the two to intermingle, there are times where it’s both inevitable and beneficial. I fully believe that in those times, there are things far more bigger than sports or providing viewers with an escape.