Last night, post Suns-win against the Bulls, I had a chance to talk with prominent Suns Twitter figure Andrew Leezus about the current state of the Suns and their role in the NBA at this point. Leezus has been a major part of the community since joining the platform in 2015, and has been a major representation of the Suns culture with even getting national media coverage for a variety of different reasons.
One of the most prominent of these was during the NBA Bubble period where he promised to get a face tattoo spelling out the letters “DOMINAYTON” if Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton made a three in a game against the Jazz. Well, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), DA hit a triple during the game, with the official Phoenix Suns account making Leezus well-known about the event. The post even made it onto the NBA Jump segment on ESPN, and was also covered in an Arizona Sports article linked below written by Kellan Olson (where I somehow made an appearance in the clarification of the bet).
Leezus has amassed an impressive 15k followers through his Twitter account @AndrewLeezus and has had numerous posts takeoff regardless if they were about the Suns or not, with the most recent regarding Hornets’ announcer Eric Collins call on a Kai Jones slam in which he was fairly excited about the play to say the least. The post is up to 60.3K likes and 5.2K Retweets, showing the overall pull his commentary has on the world of NBA Twitter. However, it does not stop at Twitter, as Leezus has been in connection with players in the past as well, even playing Call of Duty with Devin Booker when he is not on the court scoring buckets. In fact, during a podcast with Devin Booker, Book himself said that Ayton seeing Leezus’ presence on Twitter could have been the inspiration for DA even attempting the three during the Bubble at all.
Although it is highly unlikely Leezus will go to the extreme of getting Ayton’s nickname permanently tattooed on his face, he did give his praise for DA’s recent elevated play. He, alike myself included, is someone who is a critic of Ayton because of the impact he has on how far the team can go. He states, “This is why it would blow my mind when Ayton stans hated any criticism towards Ayton bro LOOK AT THE LEVEL HE CAN PLAY AT! We shouldn’t settle for anything else”. The most recent Western Conference Player of the Week in Deandre Ayton averaged 23.7 PPG, 16.0 RPG, and shooting at 67.4% across that three game sample size. Ayton continued this trend last night with an impressive 30/16 outing against Chicago.
With Leezus’ connection with Book, I asked him about his elevated play this season, and always seemingly able to get better every season. Leezus agreed Book may need some help down the stretch in the possible form of a Jae Crowder trade, but agreed he was one of the purest scorers in the league and belongs in the front-running conversation for MVP this season. Leezus posted on Twitter after Book’s last night’s 51 point outing in three quarters with an updated ranking to the MVP standings even with how good Giannis and Tatum have been playing. It also helps that as of writing this article, Devin Booker was just awarded Western Conference Player of the Month, averaging 29/5/6.
In terms of the future, it is clear that Leezus and myself included want James Jones to not be passive this season, especially with his history the last couple seasons of being content with low activity regarding in-season transactions. Another factor to this was the inability to secure a legit rotational player with the lottery pick made in the 2020 draft selecting Maryland F Jalen “Stix” Smith who was moved for Torrey Craig instead of other promising prospects that panned out such as Tyrese Haliburton or Tyrese Maxey, or even more under-the-radar players such as Devin Vassell or Jaden McDaniels which would have helped shore up the wing depth especially at a time where it is so thin with Crowder (away from team) and Johnson (knee) out.
It was within mutually understanding, that there are still a few facets of the team in terms of depth that could be addressed, especially at guard with reference to the “Point-Shamet” lineups that looked stagnant and awkward. However, Leezus gave props to players like Damion Lee who appreciated the Warriors for “Letting him walk for nothing”. However, one major fish that the Suns have been linked to in the past is the one-and-only Kevin Durant, in which Leezus believes the Phoenix Suns’ culture has brought them into a position to be able to acquire big-name talent like KD with a young superstar in Book, great coaching with Monty Williams, and a pristine basketball market with the city of Phoenix.
Leezus made it clear if that kind of player becomes available then the Suns should trade what you have to in order to obtain him, despite making it clear he “Loves the Suns current core, but wants a ring more than anybody”. Cannot argue there from a franchise that still has not gotten one, being stopped by two phenomenal efforts by the greatest to ever do it in Michael Jordan in 1993 and more recently the Greek Freak dropping 50 in an elimination game. For the latter, Leezus agreed that, “There is only so much you can contain Giannis” and adding “Khris Middleton was huge in hitting the crowd-silencing shots and removing hope of a Suns comeback”. KD would certainly help ease the pressure of the Book and potentially alter the outcome of the last two Suns Finals Appearances, in which Devin Booker has continually brought up throughout the season including tonight:
Finally, I wrapped up my conversation with Andrew Leezus talking about the 2018 NBA Draft Class, and logistically why some of those stars berthed seem to get more media coverage and appreciation. Starting with Luka Doncic, who went number three to the Hawks and then traded to the Mavs on draft-night for none other than Trae Young who already have a combined 5 All-Star Appearances for the two. Now it is no question how talented both of these individuals are and how they are apart of the next generation of NBA Greats, but Leezus brought up an interesting case in reference to the team success side of the ball specifically with Doncic who’s team is sitting at .500 with a (10-10) record.
I actually brought up the Harden-Luka comparison first without realizing Leezus had posted about it previously, which then sparked memories of the 2018 Western Conference Finals where Harden was putting up similar numbers and almost took down arguably the greatest team of all time in the Golden State Warriors, without ironically, Chris Paul who suffered an injury in Game 5 despite winning the game and leading the series 3-2.
We talked about Luka’s similar play-style of being extremely ball-dominant, getting to the line at will, and even the step-backs. The real question is if this is championship-caliber basketball, no matter how many stats an individual player puts up. It is also significant to consider that the Mavs have lacked a star to place next to Luka, which could either be choice or flat out that another star would not want to be in an offense so dominated by one single player.
If you want to follow Andrew, you can check out any of the Tweets I have embedded throughout the article, or just search up his tag @AndrewLeezus for entertaining NBA and Suns content throughout the rest of this NBA Season.