Suns Week 8 Stock Exchange: We miss Damion Lee more than we should

The Phoenix Suns, much like the stock market, are a constant dance of ups and downs. Last week’s 2-2 record was an emotional rollercoaster, mirroring the holiday season’s inherent stresses.

Building on my recent three-part series analyzing each Suns player’s “stock” through the first quarter, I’m considering making it a weekly feature. It’s a concise way to gauge their performance, and focusing on select players keeps it manageable.

While I used to write the “Center of the Sun” articles for Bright Side of the Sun, Dave King has taken the Suns Weekly to new heights with its informative approach, replacing my therapy-session observations.

However, the itch for a weekly recap remains, and I’m using the stock market metaphor to analyze the Suns roster, week by week. We’ll discuss key players based on their Week 8 performance, assessing whether their “stock” is up, down, or steady. Sure, it’s subjective, but stats will play a role.

This revamped approach, while inspired by the stock market, promises to be more concise and data-driven than my previous therapy-session style, while still offering insightful analysis of the Suns’ ever-evolving roster. So buckle up, Suns fans, as we dive into the Week 8 “stock market” of Phoenix basketball.

Damion Lee:

The Aussie Suns Fans Podcast threw a curveball this week, sparking a debate: how much does Phoenix miss Damion Lee? It’s a head-scratcher, considering Lee’s season-long absence due to a training camp meniscus tear. The sharpshooter, who boasted a 44.5% three-point clip last season, has been sidelined since then, leaving a void in the Suns’ backcourt.

But with recent struggles and mounting guard injuries, the question lingers: is Lee’s absence a bigger deal than it seems? Sure, Theo Maledon’s arrival aims to patch the hole, but will he offer the same spark as a healthy Lee?

Let’s dissect this conundrum. Lee’s elite shooting alone is a weapon. His potent catch-and-shoot prowess provided instant offense and spacing alongside Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Maledon, while a promising young talent, doesn’t carry the same gravity on the perimeter. His scoring hasn’t yet translated to consistent NBA impact.

Beyond shooting, Lee offered defensive versatility and hustle. He could guard multiple positions and contribute energy on the boards. Maledon, primarily a point guard, brings different strengths, but his defensive presence and rebounding pale in comparison to Lee’s well-rounded skillset.

Of course, Lee’s absence is just one piece of the puzzle. Injuries to Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet have further exposed the Suns’ guard depth. Maledon’s arrival is a step in the right direction, but it might not be enough to fully replace the void left by Lee’s shooting, defense, and veteran experience.

So, while declaring Lee’s absence a season-altering blow might be an overstatement, it’s undeniable that his presence would bolster the Suns’ current roster. His skill set and leadership would be welcomed additions, especially as the team navigates a challenging stretch without some key contributors.

The Suns’ stock market is undoubtedly volatile, and Lee’s absence represents a dip in their offensive firepower and defensive versatility. While Maledon brings his strengths, he’s unlikely to replicate Lee’s unique impact. Only time will tell how much this missing piece truly hinders the Suns’ championship aspirations.

Currently, we’re longing for Damion Lee from the first half of last season – the player who efficiently relieved Devin Booker from the bench. This was the individual with unparalleled confidence in three-point shooting, refraining from dribbling and attacking but instead showcasing a remarkable ability to score from deep.

The bench performance has lacked consistency this season. With Damion Lee in the mix, the offensive strength might be sufficient to provide Booker and Durant with additional moments of rest.

Chimezie Metu:

Entering Week 8, Metu had participated in only 12 out of the Suns’ 22 games. Throughout the initial seven weeks of the season, his averages stood at 3.2 points in 8.5 minutes of play.

During Week 8, his playing time saw an increase due to Josh Okogie’s hip injury, leading to Metu starting twice. Frank Vogel is experimenting in search of a catalyst, exploring various options. Notably, he has surpassed Keita Bates-Diop, a development that wasn’t anticipated.

While Metu is a decent complementary player, he does have limitations. However, according to observations by Stephen Pridgeon, he excels in the subtle aspects of the game, providing an edge where Phoenix requires assistance.

Mezie posted averages of 7.3 points, 3 rebounds, and a 50% accuracy from beyond the arc during Week 8, all achieved in 16.3 minutes of play. While these numbers may not be outstanding, they represent a positive stride in the right direction.

Suns Defense:

We’ve extensively discussed this matter at Bright Side throughout the past week. The Suns’ defense has fallen below par, and Week 8 served as a clear illustration of this struggle.

The team has reached a nadir, allowing opposing teams to exploit their defense without restraint. When even the Washington Wizards, entering the matchup with a 4-20 record, can dismantle your defense and effortlessly score inside, significant concerns arise.

The issue at hand is whether this defensive slump is correctable in the long term.

There’s a notable absence of a defensive stalwart on the team, someone consistently shutting down the opposition. While the Suns were recognized as a team with offensive prowess, the deficiency in defense has become a source of mockery.

During Week 8, the Suns registered a dismal 121 defensive rating, accompanied by an overall -4.7 net rating. Their opponents collectively shot 40.5% from beyond the arc, not due to a hot streak, but rather due to being afforded wide-open opportunities. The state of perimeter defense has become a concerning aspect, verging on the realm of a joke.

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