Let's be real; you probably don't have anything better to do with your Saturday morning than watch the Phoenix Suns take on a struggling, Melo-less New York Knicks team.

What: Phoenix Suns Vs. New York Knicks

Where: Madison Square Garden

When: 11:00 AM (AZ) 1:00 PM (East Coast)

Watch: FSAZ (locally), NBA League Pass

Listen: AZ Sports 98.7 FM

After losing six straight games, the Phoenix Suns (13-14) bounced back with a grind it out win against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. They'll continue their short three game road trip with a stop at the basketball Mecca to take on the struggling New York Knicks. Despite their struggles to protect the home court, the Phoenix Suns have been good on the road, and have stayed in the Western Conference playoff race by feasting off of lowly Eastern Conference teams. The Suns have a nice breakfast of New York Knicks (5-23) waiting for them, and they should be licking their chops.

The Knicks have been really bad.  Like, catastrophically bad.  They've already put together respective seven and ten game losing streaks, and are in the midst of a three game losing streak coming into Saturday's game.  Things are looking even worse for the Knicks, with Carmelo Anthony being advised to sit out the next few weeks with a knee injury (he did not play against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday). He is listed as questionable against the Suns. J.R. Smith is doubtful with a heel injury.

Probable starting lineups

Suns: Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, Alex Len

Knicks: Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway Jr., Carmelo Anthony (Or Travis Wear, if Melo sits), A'mare Stoudemire, Cole Aldrich

What to watch for

This largely depends on whether Melo plays or not, but the Suns should still approach the game the same way. Melo is by far the best player on this team, and P.J. Tucker will have his work cut out for him on defense if he plays.  However, the Knicks are still a horrible team, even with Anthony getting his 23 points per game.

The next biggest threat on the Knicks is A'mare Stoudemire, who has looked much more like himself this season, with 13.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG averages. Stoudemire has stayed healthy this season (get this: he's one of four players who have played in at least 27 of the Knicks 28 games). He's not the STAT we all remember, but he is still capable of putting up big numbers.  Markieff Morris will have to keep up with him.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot to get excited about on this Knicks team. Hardaway Jr. will fill the J.R. Smith role and chuck away, but he only shoots 39%.  They have two sneaky point guards in Jose Calderon and Pablo Prigoni, but the Suns point guards should murder these guys.  Shane Larkin gave the Suns fits last season when he was on Dallas, but he should be easily contained.

Wrap up

There are zero excuses here.  The Suns have already given up too many easy ones to bad, bad teams, and New York is truly one of the worst.  The Knicks are 29th in points per game, and are a middle of the pack defensive team.  This has to be an easy win for the Suns, but they cannot stroll into Madison Square Garden expecting to win. They need to come out focused, and rip the heart out before the Knicks even have a chance to compete in this game.

Prediction: Suns 120, Knicks 105

Last week ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, as the Bakersfield Jam were just a game above the .500 mark, and the possibility of the team falling back below .500 was very real. However, the team...

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FanDuel Tourney #5 Tonight!

SB Nation FanDuel tournament number five is on tap for tonight. I've made totally sure that you will be in contention for the big dollars so join using this link, read the tasty tidbits below, pick your team, and leave your lineup in the comments.

Then brag your ass off on Twitter using #FanDuelSBN. Extra points for extra obnoxiousness.

Phantasy Phix

It doesn't get any easier for the Suns this weekend.

They play the Knicks tonight after spending the last two days in the Big Party City, and we know what that kind of down time does to a team's game prep. Remember the beat-down they took in 2009 on the same such sked?

Then the Suns play a back-to-back (on which they are 1-6 this season) against Marcin Gortat's Washington Wizards. Since Marcin left, we've seen the rise and fall of Miles Plumlee and steady improvement from Alex Len but neither has been as productive as the Polish Pillow. Yet, Gortat was to the 2012-13 locker room what Isaiah Thomas appears to be to the 2014-15 locker room - a productive player who leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths.

Then the Suns host Rajon Rondo's Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Suns, the Mavericks will be riding the high of acquiring a multi-time All-Star and also smarting from the beat down the Suns gave them right before the six-game losing streak began.

Let's take a look at who does well and who doesn't against these teams.

Who loves the Knicks?

Goran Dragic. In two games against the Knicks last season, Dragic averaged 30 points a night on 52% shooting (53% on threes), along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. He was a scoring machine.

Who hates the Knicks?

Gerald Green. The Green Machine was just awful last season against the Knicks, putting up only 5 points per game in two chances. The first game was Green's worst of the season, making only 2 of 16 shots in 42 minutes of play in a Suns loss.

Who loves the Wizards?

Goran Dragic. In two games against the Wizards last year, Dragic averaged 22 points on 53% shooting (40% on threes) and 8.5 assists against John Wall. In the second Wizards game, Eric Bledsoe had 23 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds alongside Goran's stats, but the Suns lost a close one.

Who hates the Wizards?

Markieff Morris. In two games, he averaged only 10 points and 3 rebounds - well below his season averages. But even worse, his brother Marcus Morris has scored only 2 points per game in 6 career contests against the Wizards. Just something about the Wizards makes the Morrii play bad.

Who loves the Mavericks?

Goran Dragic. The Dragon had 28 points and 13 assists in the Suns shellacking of the Mavericks two weeks ago in Dallas. That was easily the Dragon's best overall stat stuffing night. Will he do as well on Tuesday? Maybe, since Monta Ellis will still be the one guarding him.

Who hates the Mavericks?

No one really hates the Mavericks, who play their own version of fantasy basketball. You can't go wrong here.

Who loves the Suns?

For his career, John Wall puts up 16.6 points and 9.9 assists against the Suns and he's been even better this season. Put him in your lineup for a ton of fantasy points.

Monta Ellis loves the Suns as well. On Tuesday, just pick Monta. And Dirk. And probably even Rajon Rondo. Heck, take Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler too.

Who hates the Suns?

Marcin Gortat. He did not play that well last year against his former team, putting up only 15 points and 5 rebounds in two contests. Look for him to try to dominate the PlumLen line, but don't expect big numbers. Pass on Marcin on Sunday.

Last Call

Got it? I've given you the winners and losers. The rest is on you. To recap: #FanDuelSBN, leave your lineup below, and of course the link to make it all happen. I'd say "good luck" but you don't need it.

EarlBlackJesusMonroe Donnie Nelson has just pulled off THE trade of the season! He just acquired Rajon Rondo amd Dwight Powell for Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson and a 1st and 2nd pick. Dallas just...

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The Los Angeles Lakers don't like to tank, yet they are on the cusp of having to give up a great prospect to the Phoenix Suns unless they embrace the tank. Will they do it?

The perfect storm of Kobe Bryant's competitiveness and the awful East might just put a big glob of icing on the Phoenix Suns cake despite what looks to be a disappointing season.

The Los Angeles Lakers owe the Phoenix Suns a first round draft pick from the ill-fated acquisition of Steve Nash in 2012. The trade has already netted 20-year old Archie Goodwin and a couple of second round picks, but the prize of the trade was a lightly protected first round pick beginning in 2015.

Reminder on Laker pick protections

  • Protected Top 5 in 2015 (If the pick ends up 1-5 after lottery, Lakers keep; if the pick ends up 6-30, Lakers give to Suns)
  • Protected Top 3 in 2016 and 2017
  • Unprotected in 2018

The Lakers have gotten so bad that their 2015 pick just might end up in the Top 5, which would make the pick roll over to 2016 and give the Lakers another year to rebuild the team into a powerhouse.


However, after a quarter of the season is complete, it looks as if at least five teams are as bad or worse than the Lakers this year. Basketball-reference.com projects the Lakers to win 29 games, just the 6th-worst mark in the league. John Hollinger's playoff predictor also has the Lakers winning 29 games, tied with Utah for 6th-worst in the league.

As you will see below, as long as the Lakers don't finish in the worst-4, there's a quality chance the Suns will get their pick. Philadelphia, Minnesota and Detroit appear destined for the bottom three, while Utah is heading that direction (losers of 11 of last 12 games) and Charlotte and the Knicks appear on the verge of giving up on the season whether they want to or not. That's a lot of competition for worst.

Shooting for more

At some point in January, the bottom teams will embrace their suck if they haven't already (I'm looking at you, Philly) and begin to plan for the draft and the offseason while positioning their teams to trade players for future considerations.

The Lakers, though, don't appear to have tanking in their DNA.

"There's nothing that we will do," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said this week, "To try and influence where we are at the end of the season. Our coach and our players have been instructed to win as many games possible."

Kobe Bryant is at the head of that snake who refuses to die. He leads the league in scoring and has been lambasting his team's soft exterior in an effort to make them even more competitive. As long as he stays healthy all season, he will personally make the Lakers competitive. And the GM indicates they won't strip the talent from around him any more than they already have (so don't hold your breath on a Carlos Boozer trade!).

Interested in playing Daily Fantasy Basketball with the chance to win money? Sign up for FanDuel here! You can bet Kobe leading the league in scoring, and Swaggy P playing like (the rougher) Scot tissue.

Lottery odds

Here's the ugly table of odds for the lottery teams.


If the Lakers finish with the 5th worst record, there is still a 44.8% chance they will drop to 6th, 7th or 8th, which will convey the pick to the Suns.

If the Lakers finish with the 6th worst record, there is a 78.5% chance the Suns get the pick (74.4% that it's 6th or 7th).

And if the Lakers finish with the 7th worst record, there is an 84.9% chance the Suns get the pick.

But don't hold your breath

Some of you will remember the spring of 2007 when the Suns appeared to be on top of the world. Not only did they have one of the best teams in the NBA, but the Suns also looked forward to a top draft pick as the final compensation for Joe Johnson.

The Suns were owed Atlanta's first round pick as long as Atlanta didn't win the lottery and jump into the top 3. Atlanta finished the season with 30 wins, the 4th worst in the league. The Suns had a 62.3% chance of getting the Hawks' pick. They were targeting Joakim Noah with that pick to put Noah next to Amare Stoudemire and potentially create a multi-year dynasty. I still daydream over those possibilities. There's not a better fit next to peak Amare than Noah, a perennial defensive player of the year candidate who also passes with the best of them.

But alas, the Hawks jumped up to 3rd (Al Horford), rolling the pick over to 2008 where it dropped to 15th overall where the Suns used it for Robin Lopez.

Still here's a carrot

Who could the Suns get with the 6th, 7th or 8th pick in the draft? That's not my area of expertise, but here's a few mocks to whet yer whistle.

DraftExpress.com's 2015 Top 30

ESPN's Top 100 for 2015

NBADraft.net's top prospects for 2015

Our own Kellan Olson and Sean Sullivan plan to bring you regular updates beginning in January on the draft's best prospects in the 6-8 range as well as the Suns' own 13-14 range (sorry, Suns fans). Look forward to the #Top5Protected watch coming in 2015!

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