Oh boy. The Phoenix Suns, coming off of a 0-3 stretch of three winnable games, have now got to deal with the apocalyptic force that is the Golden State Warriors.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m., with TV coverage on NBA TV and FSAZ.

The Warriors

The Warriors are undefeated the day after Thanksgiving for a reason. They are averaging 114.3 points and 29.6 assists a game. To give you some context, the highest PPG number for a team since 2000 is 111 and the highest APG number for a team since 2000 is 27.4 (last year's Warriors).

Stephen Curry looks like this next generation's can't miss player. His style of play is creative, flashy and simply can't miss television whenever he is playing, regardless of the opponent. He's got the numbers to prove it.

Curry is averaging 32/5/6, which would put him in one of the most prestigious individual clubs in basketball history of attaining a 30/5/5 line for a season. Only Michael Jordan (6), Oscar Robertson (6), Wilt Chamberlain (2), Jerry West (2), LeBron James (2),  Kobe Bryant (2), Dwyane Wade (1), Kevin Durant (1), Tracy McGrady (1), Rick Barry (1), and Pete Maravich (1) have done that before. That's it. There are a lot of all-time greats not on that list and everyone that has done it is truly elite. It's also worth mentioning that Curry is doing it as the point guard of one of the best teams in NBA history.

Besides the brilliance of Curry, the flexibility of the Warriors is what is so alluring about their team and that is not epitomized any better than with The Lineup of Death, or as our friends at Golden State of Mind call it, the Small Ball Death Squad. The SBDS consists of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. They are used like a closer in baseball, coming in at the end of games and as their perfect record shows, they haven't failed yet.

The stats speak for themselves. In 62 minutes played, an OffRtg of 157.8 and a DefRtg of 86.7 is simply ridiculous. They have an AST/TO ratio of 3.57 and their 82 percent true-shooting percentage is a full 15 percent better than any other lineup in the NBA that has played at least 50 minutes.

Curry (43%),Thompson (39%), Barnes (40%), Iguodala (46%), and Green (44%) are all currently tremendous shooters from three-point land and are all taking at least three attempts per game. If you want to pick that as your favorite thing about the lineup I don't blame you, but the best part for me personally is how terrific all five are defensively. Green and Iguodala showcased last season how they are some of the best individual defenders in the NBA, Thompson and Barnes continue to improve year after year, and Curry has turned into a fantastic team defender despite still being average to above average on the ball.

The SBDS matters so much because if the Suns are even close to the Warriors in the fourth quarter head coach Luke Walton will turn to this lineup and shut the game down. The Suns have a couple of players who match up well with this lineup like P.J. Tucker and the two point guards, but you need five very ideal players that match the style to throw against the SBDS to stay with them, let alone beat them.

Matchup wise, the Warriors have a couple of things going for them that the Suns look to take advantage of normally. They are very deep, can go small better than any other team, have two legitimate NBA centers in Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut and are the best three-point defense in the NBA (29%). All signs point to a rough go for Phoenix.

The Suns

It's been a strange season for the Suns so far. They are 1-5 in games decided by single digits, have got an awful start to the season from Markieff Morris and a less than ideal one from Tyson Chandler. Yet, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have been a top three NBA backcourt and Devin Booker looks like he's ready for his rotation minutes right now.

It will be interesting to see who the Suns put out there against the SBDS when they come out. The problem for the Suns is the fifth spot. Morris and Tucker down low and Knight and Bledsoe at the guards makes sense and match up well with the SBDS, but who plays SF?

You have to be on your game 100 percent of the time on both sides of the ball against the SBDS so that takes out the young guys like Booker, T.J. Warren, and Archie Goodwin. Despite being solid defenders in their own ways, Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer do not have the foot speed to keep up with any of the five in the SBDS.

That leaves Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Ronnie Price, Sonny Weems, Cory Jefferson, and Bryce Cotton. Despite the problems they present by being too small or too big, Chandler and Price are probably the two best choices. The most likely selection would be Booker or Warren, but it's really difficult to trust them against such an incredible lineup. The starting five might be the best bet or if one of those bench players gets a hot hand early in the game.

It's safe to say the Suns are better than their record, but we might be saying that for a while now with the challenging schedule coming up .Regardless, this is a big stage and the Suns tend to play their best basketball when that is the case.

Key to the game

Markieff Morris. He's been in a terrible rut to start the season, but signs point to #Keefback after his 28-point performance against the San Antonio Spurs.

Even with the slight resurgence, he will most likely be defended by Green and the Suns are notorious for struggling when Morris has what I like to call his "nuclear" games. Here are the examples last year of his bad shooting performances and the result in the game from some dude with Brad Miller in his twitter picture.

Keef last year: 4-14, W 1-8, L 3-15, L 3-20, L 1-13, L 2-14, L 3-10, L 2-10, L

— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) November 3, 2015

As Pete Campbell once said, not great, Bob. The Suns will not win this game solely on the backs of Knight and Bledsoe and Morris is the most likely candidate to swing the game.

Stats courtesy of basketball reference and ESPN.

Nearly a month into the 2015-16 NBA season, only five Western Conference teams have a winning record. By contrast, there are 9 - NINE - East teams with winning records.

Bizarro world indeed!

Over the past 10+ years, the West has been the winningest conference by a wide margin over the East. The debate over whether 9th seeded West team should make the playoffs ahead of the 8th seeded East team was a legitimate debate every year.

Last year, the 9th-seeded OKC Thunder were 45-37 and sported two of the NBA's top 10 most watchable players but missed the playoffs, while the wholly disappointing 38-44 Brooklyn Nets made it there in the East. You had to go all they way up to the 5th seed in the East to find a better record than the Thunder's.

The year before, the 48-34 Phoenix Suns would have tied for the 3rd seed in the East with the same record, but finished 9th in the West and went home without a playoff appearance.

The East has put a losing team in the playoffs for three straight seasons, but this year so far looks to be a total switcharoo.

Basketball-reference.com's playoff probabilities model is now out, and based on early-season results it predicts the 7-8 Phoenix Suns to finish as high as 5th in the West with a (rounded up) 42-40 record, while the Memphis Grizzlies squeak into the West playoffs with a measly 41-41 record.

By contrast, the East prediction model has the Boston Celtics grabbing a playoff spot as the 8th seed with a robust 44-38 record.

It's early, and most of these predictions can be thrown out the window. I find it hard to believe that the Clippers and Rockets would miss the playoffs in the West despite their lackluster start, or that Minnesota will make the 7th seed.

So take all this with a dose of tryptophan.

Yet, you can't discount the model entirely. Nearly 20% of the schedule has already been played. That's enough time to watch trends and smooth out at least a few anomalies. The b-ref prediction model plays out the rest of the season 7,500 times against each team's current schedule, and has been fairly accurate in past years. For example, that model had the Suns finishing 9th and 10th the past two years for much of each season.

How can the Suns possibly finish 5th in the West, given what we've seen? Frankly, it's all about the other teams.

I don't think many Suns fans would discount the possibility of a 42-40 season from this group. They've got, according to b-ref, a top-10 offense AND middling defense so far this season and one of the league's better point differentials, despite being 7-8 overall.

If a 42-40 record gets you into the West playoffs this season, I'll take it. I am so ready for this team to play meaningful basketball in April. So, so ready.

Last night against the New Orleans Pelicans, T.J. Warren reached double-digits in scoring in back-to-back games for the third time this year, a feat he accomplished three times all of last season,...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Golden State already achieved greatness with a NBA title but found motivation to reach a higher level with a 16-0 start.


The Suns have signed many fantastic players throughout their history, but these 10 players performed the best relative to their yearly salary.

Ah, Thanksgiving has finally arrived, and that can only mean two things — savings and fights with strangers.

Yup, ever since Black Friday swallowed up Thanksgiving, the annual harvest celebration has been more about harvesting the latest lightning deals on Amazon and punching one's way to the front of the 4K TV display at Best Buy than enjoying time with family and friends.

But everyone loves a deal, including the Phoenix Suns, so as we re-write the story of the first Thanksgiving to include Myles Standish and Massasoit clambering over each other for the finest ear of corn, here is a look back at the 10 best bargains in Phoenix Suns history.

(Note: Only the first season of free agent deals signed with the Phoenix Suns since the advent of unrestricted free agency were considered. Also, rookie-scale contracts were omitted.)

10. 1994-95, Danny Manning, $1 million

46 games (19 starts), 17.9 points, 6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 54.7 percent FG

Despite coming off two consecutive All-Star seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and earning a salary of $3.3 million in 1993-94, the Suns managed to secure Manning's services for a mere $1 million in the summer of 1994.

The cash-strapped Suns caught a break. Manning had grown tired of playing for losing teams and decided he wanted to win rather than cash in. He approached Phoenix about joining the team, which had just lost to the eventual champion Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals, and agreed to take a one-year, $1 million deal to finally play for a winner.

It was widely assumed that Manning agreed to such a cheap deal due to a wink-wink agreement between himself and the Suns to give him a significant raise the following season to repay the discount he took, which Jerry Colangelo followed through on despite Manning tearing his ACL during the 1994-95 season.

9. 2012-13, P.J. Tucker, $762k

79 games (45 starts), 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 47.3 percent FG

One of the few positives to emerge from the reign of GM Lance Blanks was the signing of P.J. Tucker to a two-year deal at the veteran's minimum.

Little was expected from Tucker initially, but he kept his head down and continued to earn playing time from the coaching staff at the expense of more expensive players who were supposed to be ahead of him in the rotations, eventually forcing his way into the starting lineup. Even as the season descended into darkness that year, Tucker remained a beacon of hope with his fearless and all-out play.

Unlike some of his teammates, Tucker didn't know how to Be Easy.

8. 2009-10, Channing Frye, $2 million

81 games (41 starts), 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.8 steals, 45.1 percent FG, 43.9 percent 3FG

Coming off two disappointing stops in New York and Portland, Frye needed the Suns as much as they needed him. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Phoenix and instantly turned his career around.

He turned out to be the perfect complement to those Steve Nash/Amar'e Stoudemire pick and rolls, setting up beyond the 3-point line and waiting for the kick out when the defense inevitably collapsed on the pair. Despite only making 20 3-pointers over his first four seasons in the NBA, Frye connected on 172 during 2009-10 (4th most that year), providing Phoenix with the court spacing necessary to surprise the NBA and make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

7. 1997-98, Clifford Robinson, $1 million

80 games (64 starts), 14.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks, 47.9 percent FG

When Clifford Robinson entered free agency in 1997 after seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, he went in seeking a contract of around $6 million a year. He found no takers. Instead, he ended up signing for one year at $1 million with the Phoenix Suns in an effort to improve his value.

That year, Robinson quickly proved his value to the Suns, supplanting Hot Rod Williams as a starter and helping the Suns earn the No. 4 seed in the West with his play and veteran savvy.

6. 1999-00, Rodney Rogers, $2 million

82 games (7 starts), 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks, 48.6 percent FG, 43.9 percent 3FG

The Suns got more than they bargained for when they agreed to a three-year, $6.6 million deal with Rodney Rogers after the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

The burly big played all 82 games for the Suns, coming off the bench for minutes at either forward position. His versatility and strong play helped Phoenix advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1994-95 and earned him just the third Sixth Man of the Year award in Phoenix Suns history at the time.

5. 2007-08, Grant Hill, $1.8 million

70 games (68 starts), 13.1 points, 5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, 50.3 percent FG

When the Suns signed Grant Hill with their biannual exception in 2007, everybody figured it was the seven-time All Star's swan song. Despite still putting up solid numbers when healthy, Hill had missed 374 of a possible 574 games over the past seven seasons with the Orlando Magic.

But Hill would find renewed life with the Suns and their training staff, starting 68 games for Phoenix while averaging the most minutes he had since 2004-05. His role became even more significant after the Suns traded Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O'Neal.

And Phoenix got all that from a guy making the least money he had in his career.

4. 2012-13, Goran Dragic, $7.5 million

77 games (77 starts), 14.7 points, 7.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 44.3 percent FG

The return of Goran Dragic to Phoenix would never have happened had owner Robert Sarver not overruled Lance Blanks and insisted on Dragic over Raymond Felton to usher in the post-Steve Nash era. But even when Dragic put pen to paper in the parking garage, the Suns couldn't be certain what they were getting in their new but unproven starting point guard.

As it turned out, Dragic outperformed the $7.5 million gamble by posting the best season of his career, with career highs in points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, and minutes. He also proved to be one of the most reliable players on an otherwise unreliable team.

3. 1996-97, Rex Chapman, $248k

65 games (33 starts), 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 44.3 percent FG, 35 percent 3FG

Rex Chapman became available to the Suns when contract negotiations between himself and the Miami Heat broke down and the money pool in the NBA had dried up. Still, the signing was a surprising one for a team with seemingly no need for another guard, but passing on signing a player to the league minimum who had averaged 15.7 points over his eight-year career wasn't something Phoenix was willing to do.

Even though the Suns already had Kevin Johnson, Sam Cassell, Steve Nash, Michael Finley, and Wesley Person to find minutes for, they agreed to bring King Rex into the fold. It was a good thing they did since turmoil and injuries would strip away much of that depth by the end of the season. When the dust had settled on the 1996-97 season, Chapman was the team's third-leading scorer. He would also hit one of the most memorable shots in team history against the Seattle Supersonics during the 1997 playoffs.

2. 2005-06, Tim Thomas, approx. $300k pro-rated

26 games (10 starts), 11 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 43.5 percent FG, 42.9 percent 3FG

With Stoudemire missing all but three games of the 2005-06 season due to microfracture surgery, the Suns needed big bodies to fill in. That need became even more pressing when they lost Kurt Thomas to a stress fracture in his right foot in late February.

Enter Tim Thomas, who had been waived by the Chicago Bulls on March 1 and quickly signed with the Suns for the pro-rated veteran's minimum. He soon slid into the starting lineup, and after helping the Suns secure a surprising No. 2 seed in the West, he upped his play further in the playoffs, including hitting a game-tying 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left in Game 6 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers that saved the Suns from a first-round elimination at the hands of Kobe Bryant and company.

Now that's value for your dollar.

1. 2004-05, Steve Nash, $8.8 million

75 games (75 starts), 15.5 points, 11.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 50.2 percent FG, 43.1 percent 3FG

Was there ever any doubt who would be first on this list? When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refused to match Phoenix's six-year, $66 million offer to the point guard, it set up the greatest value signing in team history.

Nash would only go on to spark the transformation of a 53-game loser into a 62-game winner, lead the league in assists, win the first of his back-to-back MVP trophies, take the Suns to the Western Conference Finals, and generally reinvent the way NBA basketball is played to this day.

Not bad for someone on a contract considered an overpay when it was first signed.

Who deserved to be first on this list?

  186 votes | Results

Page 3 of 2267


Web Links

Sponsored Ads