The 2011-12 NBA season is a few weeks under way and most teams have played at least eight games. Eight games might not seem like much, but in this lockout-shortened season, that's about 12 percent of the 66-game season. And 12 percent of the season is certainly enough to get a good starting point for NBA Power Rankings. Eight games was also enough for the Phoenix Suns to go from "they're old and done" to "maybe this team can compete a bit".
According to Tom Ziller's NBA Power Rankings at SB Nation, the Suns are the 11th-ranked team in the NBA. That's ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (13), Los Angeles Clippers (14), New York Knicks (18), Dallas Mavericks (16) and Boston Celtics (15).
The Suns MUCH IMPROVED defense and the fast start for rookie Markieff Morris have to fall among the biggest surprises early in the NBA season. Morris is ranked ahead of first-overall pick Kyrie Irving with a PER of 20.55 and statistically, he's the third-best player on the Suns behind only Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat.
Ziller expresses his relief, shared by us all, that Steve Nash is back but didn't get a chance to mention the defense. Check out these numbers:
- Opponents are shooting just .424 from the field and scoring 91.5 points per game against the Suns. That's seventh-best in the NBA.
- The Suns are fifth-best at defending the three, allowing just .289 shooting percentage.
- The Suns are 12th in the league in Defensive Rating with 100.6 points per 100 possessions allowed.
- The Suns are also 12th in the league in Offensive Rating with 104.3 points per 100 possessions scored and despite the extremely slow shooting start, are 15th in eFG% (a measure that combines three and two-point shots).
- This is the best Suns defensive team ever...if they continue this trend. They probably won't (continue this trend) when you consider that offenses around the league are off to a slow start with scoring down a full five points per 100 possessions compared to last season.