Through a third of the season, your Phoenix Suns are an evolving, entertaining, and interesting collection of young athletic talent - that nobody can make heads or tails of... still.
In replying to a thread sometime in November I said something along the lines of this when discussing the surprising start of the Phoenix Suns:
Mid-December. Lets give it until the middle of December and we'll have an idea of who these Suns are. They would have been scouted and plans put in place to stop them; we'll see what sort of staying power they'll have by then.
We're in January now, folks. Happy New Year. And to be absolutely honest, I still have no idea who these Phoenix Suns are.
Back when I wrote this, I was still trying to recover from having the Suns doing far better than they should be in the midst of a rebuild that I had been begging for. I was busy scouting the top 5 potential draft prospects in preparation for welcoming in the future franchise savior. I was completely at ease with those losing-while-developing-and-evaluating process that normally comes with year-one of the rebuild.
I was conflicted with all of the annoying winning - all of the ill-advised game winning shots by the Daywalker, (Blade AKA Eric Bledsoe) and even with the arrival of #PLUMSAUCE (High energy, fat-free, gravity suppressor) - all of these GOOD THINGS weren't supposed to come on the eve of another potential "big 3" or "legendary 1996" type of draft.
Be good enough to miss out on a franchise player, while other teams tanked properly, and changed the fortunes of their franchises for half a decade at least. My biggest fear going into this year and it was playing out in that exact fashion, but now...
The Sun Burst Era is upon us
As per Basketball-Reference.com, Your Suns are 9th overall in points per game(103.7). They are 8th in pace; 10th in offensive rating. 9th in 3-point percentage, (.373) and top 5 defending the 3 forcing teams into a .303 percentage from deep while being 7th best in total steals with 261.
Their defensive rotations resemble a freshly kicked ant hill and if you have the ball, you don't want the ball. When a Sun snatches the ball from a dizzy and off-balanced opponent, it's converted into points whether a defender gets back or not. A team void of true shooters last year now have a small collection of long range snipers. a team void of rim attackers, minus Goran Dragic last year, will now get to the rim and annihilate the opposing team's favorite shot blocker.
Gogi, Daywalker, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and Archie Goodwin are going to the rim, and the defense is probably going to be too late to do anything about it and / or end up on a poster.
Brothers of the Corvinus Clan Slash Brothers are currently averaging 38.4PPG / 7.2RPG / 11.7AST / 2.8STL while getting 11 free throw attempts per game - in under three quarters of playing time.
#PLUMSAUCE is averaging 10PPG / 9.1RPG / 1.8BPG in just over two quarters of playing time. In total, there are seven players averaging double digit scoring while generating a steal approximately once every 6 opponent-offensive possessions - what.
I won't even talk about Team Mirror Image, (the Morri) or how PJ Tucker successfully added that corner three into his arsenal. I won't even bother pointing out that a lot of the Suns' losses came earlier in the year during the feeling out process and that many of those losses were very close and could have been wins with a few twists of fate.
The Suns just suit up, get out on the floor, and try to burn you like the Australian sun and SPF was never invented.
And even with all of that, I'm still uneasy.
Extremely uneasy, because I have no idea what will come next. The Suns are currently out there like your favorite television show, (The Walking Dead for me), because even though we know the faces and the basic story by now, we have no idea where it's going.
Game by game the Suns go out there and somebody else goes crazy. They migrate further and further away from that dreaded 8 seed or lower, and closer to the top of the ladder in the Western Conference. They ambush teams, get ambushed, dust themselves off, and ambush somebody else. Chad Ford still hates the Suns, so at least that narrative remains consistent.
The true arch nemesis of every young team hasn't revealed itself yet. That "rookie wall" still looms on the horizon, lurking, waiting, anxious to bring the young flame-throwers to their knees. The draftee saviors are no longer considering the Valley as a place to bring order to. We do not know if some of the high-powered free agents-to-be are keeping an eye on this team and we don't know the true power of any Sun outside of Dragon, who is beast-mode-awesome undisputed.
Fatigue, and one bad injury could send the Suns spiraling downward from a height that already renders the upcoming draft more of a utility / asset-trading affair than a campaign to bring forth the arrival of a colossal supernova.
What are the plans in the front office? As great as Ryan McDonough has been, I doubt even he currently has a clear vision of what he wants to do next. I'd imagine he did at the start of the season when the rhetoric was "we're not tanking" when I totally believe he was ready to. His draft strategy would be out of the window by now. He'd have to be really careful with any trades as even having to give up one important cog could throw the machine into disarray. He'd have to be very careful when considering potential free agents because there are quite a few contracts to navigate in house, and he'd have to be mindful not to move all of the mid-1st round picks in case you need to replace a player or 2 that you felt necessary to move in order to improve.
We are in the middle of a fun little maze, ladies and gentlemen. One wrong turn could still prove devastating. There are also multiple avenues with brilliant light at the end pulling us forward. I still don't know which way I'm wanting to go. How are your respective compasses?