This has been a week to forget as the Phoenix Suns dropped three straight to end the week falling victim to the second worst start (through 11 games) in 15 years. Last year the team started with an identical record and battled back to finish the season with 33 wins potentially foreshadowing the immediate future.
Over the years this has been a consistent franchise, but seems to have fallen into that devastating realm of basketball purgatory as a middling team without a superstar.
When you are good across the board on the roster and lack that star power you lose to quality teams like the Bulls and championship contenders like the Lakers and Heat. One thing the team has been consistent with this season is beating those teams that are at their level or lower. That is going to be the key to the Suns turning their season around and getting back into the playoff race.
This week the story was twofold, like a play. The first act seems to start slow and builds up as an underdog plot, but then the second act comes through with resilience to make up for the slow start. That is something that is nice as a novelty, but when that is the ticket every night it is quiet simply the makings for a below average basketball team.
Changes are coming to the line-ups this week as the team will evaluate things before making a shift in the starting line-up. Those changes will be for better or for worse, but change is needed nonetheless especially since this team seems to be a lottery team some nights, a playoff team on others, and somewhere in the middle on most.
On the season the Suns bench has been playing great netting 34.7 PPG as a unit led by Shannon Brown and his 13.4 PPG. He is the leagues tenth highest scoring reserve so far this season and the unit is responsible for 35.3% of the teams' points on a nightly basis.
Top Bench Scorers:
1. Jamal Crawford - 20.7
2. Kevin Martin - 17.1
3. J.R. Smith - 16.7
4. Ryan Anderson - 16.4
5. J.J. Redick - 15.8
6. Ramon Sessions - 15.8
7. Carl Landry - 15.3
8. Marcus Thornton - 14.8
9. Louis Williams - 14.1
10. Shannon Brown - 13.4
The other stat, the one the team is not trending so well in right now is points per possession. Right now the team is scoring an average of 1.10 PPP good for 25th in the league. Making use of every possession is key to the consistency throughout a game, which speaks to the lack of execution so far for the team.
As a team the Suns were on cloud nine at home against the Nuggets as they put together their best overall team performance in a quality win. They laid out the blueprint on how this team can win games. The starters played well, the bench came in with the energy, and everything just clicked.
In the game there were seven Suns that scored between 12-21 points showing their depth and the quality of that depth on the roster.
The most exciting moment of the game came when Markieff Morris knocked down his first three of the season after starting 0-7 so far. It was visible that some pressure was removed from the young big man and he finally grabbed that monkey and threw it off his back.
As bad as the losses to the Lakers and Heat stung because they were in those games until the end it was the loss to the Bulls that had to hurt the most. They came back from another huge hole (18 points) in the third quarter to force overtime behind Sebastian Telfair and his hot shooting.
The comeback was amazing to watch as the team had every reason to pack it in and call it a night, but Telfair and the rest of the bench would not stop grinding, chipping away at the lead point-by-point.
In the end the Suns ran out of gas in overtime giving up the first six points and falling down by nine quickly with no time or a third unit to turn to for a comeback. Tough loss.
In practice this week the Suns were confident and happy to be home after spending the better part of a week on the road playing four out of five games away from home. They started off the week with a win and Jared Dudley was optimistic about getting two out of three to close out the week with two games being at home.
No injuries to report and no changes to the line-up... However that will not be the case next week it seems.
A look at three different players on the Suns for the week forming a good, bad, and a surprise either way each week.
- A for Shannon Brown - This seems to be a very familiar theme as the story of the season so far has not been a key off-season acquisition, but rather the re-signing of one of their own.
- D+ for Luis Scola - If you just box-score dumpster dive then on the surface you see Scola putting up his normal numbers, but his play on the defensive end and his ability to play all throughout games has been below average.
- C- for Jared Dudley - He found his shot early in the week, but there seems to be something off for Dudley. Whether he is more comfortable off the bench or that he has not got his legs for the season yet, something just feels off with the Suns veteran.
Player of the Week:
Markieff Morris - 10.25 PPG 5.4 RPG 2.0 APG 1.5 SPG
There are always silver linings in a tough week and the progression of Morris has been just that for the Suns. Not only has the second year forward finally found his offensive rhythm over the past four games, but he seems to be playing a well-rounded brand of basketball.
He has gone 4-7 from three this week after starting the season 0-7 in the first seven games of the year. With his shot falling Morris seems to be playing with more confidence in all aspects of the game getting after it on defense and on the glass.
Getting a more focused and engaged Morris is huge for the Suns as he can stretch the floor from the four position and play some five.
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Wednesday, November 21st vs. Portland Trail Blazers (4-5)
Friday, November 23rd vs. New Orleans Hornets (3-5)