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In this week’s episode of The Fast Break Podcast, Fastbreak on FanNation NBA insider and reporter Brett Siegel is joined by Fastbreak’s Ben Stinar to discuss where things stand in the NBA at the quarter mark of the season, as well as some key topics relating to teams like the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers and more!

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Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns [4:15]


Now into the month of December, the Phoenix Suns have once again started the NBA season as the best team in the Western Conference, posting a 15-6 overall record. What’s different though and more impressive about this start for the Suns is that they have accomplished this top record without key parts of their lineup.

Chris Paul has missed 11 games with a heel injury, Cameron Johnson has missed 13 games with a knee injury that required surgery and Jae Crowder has not played at all this season as he awaits a trade.

Devin Booker has carried this team to this point with Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton by his side, which is why Booker deserves a lot of credit right now. He will undoubtedly be an All-Star again and have the Suns in a position to contend for a title, but compared to the other top teams in the NBA right now, the Suns still seem like they are missing something [4:15].

Stinar: The Suns have been great. But I do not think the Suns are that much better when you look down the list of teams that are behind them, you know what I mean? The Grizzlies, the Pelicans – they’re all right there in the mix. The Suns are trying to pull away, but it feels like nobody in the West is taking that baton right now.

Siegel: I tend to agree with you on that point. I really do like the Suns. I think Monty Williams is one of the best coaches in the league and Devin Booker’s story of going from a guy that puts up “empty stats” to being one of the best talents in the league is remarkable, but I look at the Phoenix Suns and I don’t know. This team celebrates like they are Michael Jordan’s and Scottie Pippen’s Bulls when they win a game and they act like they are the best team in the league, but then they go out in the playoffs and they look like a completely different team.

Stinar: I think that, and I don’t want to sidetrack here, but you made a really good point. The Devin Booker thing; I was one of those people who said ‘Hey, let’s look at Booker. He’s putting up big numbers, but what are they doing in terms of winning?’ I was one of those people and I will self-admit when I make mistakes… It is so fascinating how the narrative changed on Booker and I think this is because when you are in that strictly shooting guard role, you need a supporting cast. James Jones has done an amazing job of putting this supporting cast around him.

Siegel: I think the Suns have a lot of talent and I think they are very deserving of being a top-seed come playoff time and potentially going back to the NBA Finals, but I look at them and I don’t know. Their attitude when they play is great and their energy is great, but they are not perceived around the league as being a team like the Golden State Warriors or like the Boston Celtics. Teams know that they can beat the Suns and we have seen that mentality in the playoffs. That is why I am hesitant to say that they are up there with the likes of the Bucks and Celtics in terms of being a team that others fear.

The Emergence of the Sacramento Kings & De’Aaron Fox [8:39]

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Perhaps the greatest storyline in the NBA over the first quarter of the season has been the sudden rise of the Sacramento Kings, an organization that has been looked down upon in this league for close to two decades now.

Missing the playoffs for 16 straight seasons, the Kings have been sitting at rock-bottom in the NBA for quite some time, but times are changing very quickly in Sacramento and all of a sudden, key offseason changes to this franchise have made them a very formidable foe on a nightly basis.

Not only did they hire long-time Golden State Warriors’ assistant Mike Brown to be their new head coach, one of the best “player-first” coaches in the league, GM Monte McNair also made key moves in free agency, the NBA Draft and on the trade market, bringing in the likes of Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk and rookie Keegan Murray.

They are exciting to watch, their fans have been electric and De’Aaron Fox deserves a lot of credit for being the leader of this team at just 25-years-old.

Stinar [9:40]: “The first team that comes to mind when I think about who the most exciting teams in the NBA are is the Sacramento Kings. De’Aaron Fox to me has become criminally underrated. I remember people talking about him and his trade value around the league going stale at one point. I remember thinking to myself like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ If this guy played for like the Celtics, the Lakers, teams that get talked about a lot, I mean he would have already been a multi-time All-Star right now! This guy is fun to watch, he’s so quick, he can shoot and by all accounts, he seems like a very team-first guy as well.”

Tyrese Haliburton’s Campaign For First-Time All-Star [15:05]


While De’Aaron Fox is certainly making a great case to be a first-time All-Star this season, so is his former teammate in Tyrese Haliburton, who has looked like a young star in the making.

Haliburton was dealt from the Sacramento Kings to the Indiana Pacers last season and while he impressed in his short stint with the Pacers at the end of the year, he has really taken the reins of this franchise and has solidified himself as the face of the Pacers.

Currently leading the league in assists per game, Haliburton has been arguably the best point guard in the league through the first quarter of the season and Brett and Ben talked about his development and what has impressed them the most about the young guard’s play.

Stinar: I do not like the Pacers as much as a team, but I am really getting on the Tyrese Haliburton hype train. What I am specifically intrigued by on their team is Haliburton. I think we are looking at a potential top, top guard in this league for a long-time to come. He is leading the league in assists per game and my favorite statistic is assists. Nobody on Indiana’s roster would be getting recognition this season if it wasn’t for Haliburton, that’s my opinion. Something has really clicked for this guy in the offseason and he is on a path to stardom right now.

Siegel: In 11 of his last 12 games, the guy has recorded at least 10 assists and he has recorded 9 double-doubles in the month of November just from points and assists. What he has done this season so far has been incredible and he is going to be a first-time All-Star this year as a result. That’s basically all I can say. He is leading the league in assists like you said and he’s what, 21, 22-years-old? You have a star right there in Indiana and they are going to be able to build around this guy for at least the next decade. They have Bennedict Mathurin who already looks like a second or third-year player just 25 percent of the way through his rookie season. Those two are going to be the foundation in Indiana for a long time to come and if they are able to add another high-level, All-Star-like talent to this team, the Pacers can instantly become contenders in the Eastern Conference again just like they were with Paul George not too long ago.

Trade Talks Revolving Around the Los Angeles Lakers [19:03]


Beginning the season with a 2-10 record, the Los Angeles Lakers have seemed to turn things around slightly, winning six of their last eight games, but Los Angeles still has some major concerns moving forward.

LeBron James is getting older and not looking like he is able to single-handedly carry this team anymore, Anthony Davis has been playing better, but his injury history is concerning, Russell Westbrook’s future remains clouded and the Lakers really do not have many avenues in terms of bettering their outlook this season.

Los Angeles is expected to make some sort of a move this season and if they do not look to trade Westbrook, guys like Kendrick Nunn and Patrick Beverley could very much be involved in trade talks, as they are making a combined $18.2 million this season, enough outgoing salaries for the Lakers to potentially target guys like Gary Harris (Orlando Magic), Terrence Ross (Orlando Magic), Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat), Kelly Oubre Jr. (Charlotte Hornets), Alec Burks (Detroit Pistons) and others.

Talking about potential trade targets for Los Angeles, Ben offered his view on what the Lakers need, including his view on Anthony Davis’ future with the team [23:12].

Stinar: “Duncan Robinson would be unbelievable playing next to LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. I like that name a lot for Los Angeles. If they can maneuver guys like Nunn and Beverley in trade talks and find a way to not give up assets in order to get a player, maybe someone like Gary Harris, that can help them right now, that is absolutely something that can aid their playoff chances. Back to Anthony Davis though, I hate to be that guy, but when you look at that great stretch he recently had, the Lakers played the Nets, enough said right there, the Pistons, the worst team in the NBA, the Spurs, coldest team in the NBA, and then the Suns, the one good team they played, but they lost this game. I want to see Davis really prove it and I just have never really been proven by Anthony Davis. If he can turn into the player everyone seems to think he is against the best of the best in this league, then the Lakers actually have a lot less to worry about and they could clean up their season, but AD has not proven a lot to me, even with that championship ring in 2020.”

Be sure to follow Brett Siegel (@BrettSiegelNBA) and Ben Stinar (@BenStinar) on Twitter.