FanPost

Summer Suns Game 1: The good, the bad, the ugly.

Summer Suns, Game 1: This was a loss to the Summer Golden State Warriors, 74-72. Some thoughts on the game:

The Good: Not unexpectedly, Archie Goodwin and TJ Warren were effective and efficient scorers, combining for 39 pts and 16/26 FGM/FGA, and only 3 turnovers. Suns played good defense overall, and got 10 steals; the caveat is that the Summer Warriors appear to be a turnover prone team (they had 22 TOs in their first summer game, 24 TOs in this one), so we'll see how many TOs the Suns can force on the next opponent.

The Bad: Suns were unable to play defense without fouling. Suns were ineffective scorers in the low post despite starting two big men. Suns missed all their 3PT shots. And only 2 assists all game?

The Ugly: Miles Plumlee and Alex Brown each were 0/7 from the field. Plumlee added to the misery with 3 turnovers. Brown had 0 rebounds in 11 minutes.

Some game notes, but first, the +/- breakdown:

Warren, 24 mins, +19

Plumlee, 27m, +6

Ennis, 23m, +4

Len, 25m, +3

Brown, 11m, -3

Curry, 18m, -4

Goodwin, 26m, -7

Christmas, 26m, -14

Harris, 20m, -14

(1) TJ Warren showed off his full offensive repertoire, scoring 22 pts in 23 and a half minutes. He scored on putbacks, fast breaks, and forays to the fhoop. He lived up to the nickname, Tony Buckets. But I did get the impression that the coaches were unhappy with some parts of his transition game - he did not always pass the ball to open teammates, and at times he recklessly ran downcourt into defenders.

Also, he only had 1 defensive rebound. He might have been leaking out early for fast breaks... that might explain how Golden State guard Justin Holiday had 7 offensive rebounds. Still, not a bad debut for the rookie from NC State.

(2) Archie Goodwin continues to impress. I think that he was particularly hampered by the lack of spacing, what with the two big men, the lack of outside shooters, and TJ Warren lurking around the lane. But he still put up good numbers at an efficient rate (17 pts, 6/10 FGs). My only question is, where was Archie when Justin Holiday was scoring 29 pts? This is an open question, because I wasn't keeping a good track of who was guarding whom. I'm just askin'...

(3) Alex Len seemed quite comfortable. He operated well from the high post in the Suns twin-tower offense (with Miles Plumlee), he had 5 offensive rebs, and he was no doubt a factor in the Warriors poor shooting night (just 36% shooting). But still: this is a guy who was selected 5th in the draft in large part for his potential as an interior scorer. But he didn't really display much of a post-up game. And his reputed mid-range game was not in evidence. Len is still very much a work in progress. But he was a mainly a positive.

(4) Meanwhile, Miles Plumlee was a negative. My prior comments say it all. He needs a lot of work on the offensive end.

(5) Alex Brown was also a negative. A designated shooter who can't shoot is a liability. He did have 2 blocked shots, but given his zero rebounds, that was not redemptive.

(6) I don't know what to make of Tyler Ennis' game. He only had one assist, but with so many people missing shots, with Len running the offense for a spell, and with Archie and TJ doing their own thing, there weren't that many assists to be had. But he seemed poised if not super fast, he made a few shots, and he had 3 steals. My main feeling after the game was, I want to see more.

(7) The Suns bench was outmatched and outplayed. Two stats come to mind as big problems. First, the 4 bench guys (Dionte Christmas, Alex Brown, Elias Harris, Seth Curry) combined for 14 fouls in 75 minutes; the 5 starters had 14 fouls in 125 minutes. Recollect that the Warriors had 31 free throw attempts, versus just 20 for the Suns (the Warriors made 26 foul shots, the Suns made 14). All those fouls the Suns committed made a difference. The Suns, especially the bench, need to play defense without fouling.

Second, the bench guys had horrible shooting nights. They only made 23.3% of their shots. The starters, even with Plumlee firing blanks, shot a decent 46.8%.

Christmas and Harris were both -14 for the night. But I will give Xmas some credit: he had 6 defensive rebounds, the most of any Suns player. Warren had 1 def reb, Goodwin none. Golden St SG Justin Holliday had 7 offensive rebounds - including the rebound he grabbed for a put back to win the game, a rebound he grabbed in front of Christmas, who was too slow to the ball. Harris was tied for second most defensive rebounds (5 rebounds).

On the basis of this one game, it seems the Suns bench lacks the size or the scoring to be an effective unit. If the Suns want to win games this summer, they might need to finagle a bit with their rotation. I think they miss not having a big body like Alex Oriakhi (6-9, 255 lbs) on the bench. (PF Oriakhi may not be available as his rights were sent to the Kings in the Isaiah Thomas trade.) If Alex is not available to "walk through that door," the Suns defense off the bench will be suspect.

(8) Final Thought: despite no 3PT offense, no low post offense, and no bench production to speak of,the Suns only lost by two points. The Suns stayed in the game with defense. They forced a low shooting percentage and got a bunch of steals. For the Summer Suns to win, good defense might be the calling card. At least until more guys find their shot... like in the next game... maybe.

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