Since the last weekly checkup, the Suns have extended their winning streak to eight games. They have registered convincing wins over the Rockets, Kings, and Clippers, and have also proven they could pull out the close ones. The Suns' average margin of victory for the week was 11.75, and if there's still a feeling that this team hasn't proven itself yet, it's only because fate has conspired with the schedule-makers to give the Suns a string of weaker and/or depleted opponents to start the season. That should change somewhat in the coming week as--barring anything unexpected--the Suns will face a fully-loaded Golden State team, followed by the Rockets again (with Tracy McGrady this time), and then Orlando.
In the meantime, a quick check of the stats finds Steve Nash back in the assist lead with 10.8 per game, and still perfect at the free throw line, having put in 36 straight. The Suns as a team have moved back into their rightful place as the top-scoring team at 108.46 points per game, and currently sit tied with the Spurs for the top record in the West at 11-2. Shawn Marion has pulled down a whopping 11.75 rebounds per game for the season so far, while still averaging over 17 points, despite the presence of Grant Hill who shoots a lot more often than Boris Diaw or any of the other "fifth man" starters Mike D'Antoni tried last season. Amare Stoudemire continues to struggle with foul trouble a bit, but he's still averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds, and two blocks a game, while playing only 26 minutes. But the guy who really stood out this week for me was Brian Skinner. He's shown that not only can he be a presence inside on defense, he has also been much better on offense than expected--especially with the jump shot and at the free throw line. Here are his stats for the week:
Folks, that's 67% shooting from the field and 83% from the line from a guy whose biggest liability compared to Kurt Thomas was expected to be his free throw shooting and offense in general. For the record, here are KT's averages from last season:
I know this was only one week, and Skinner can't really prove himself in comparison to KT until the Suns meet the Spurs on December 17. But I'm starting to think the question isn't whether the Suns erred in not keeping KT, but whether they erred in not signing Skinner to a longer deal. Let's see if he can keep it going in the coming week.
Lastly, for those who are wondering what happened to the glass half empty/half full analysis from the previous two reports, I have decided to go in a different direction. The idea on the "filling the glass" approach was to look at it from a "percentage of playoff-readiness" each week--the idea being that the glass should be hitting 100% full just in time for May, though it might fluxuate up and down throughout the season. However, that seemed to be confusing people and also coming off a lot more negatively than I intended, and so I have decided to dispense with it, at least for now. I might re-introduce something similar in the latter part of the season, but for now, I think it's best to stick with looking at the week at hand, and not worry so much about what the team will/should/better be five months from now. After all, the whole idea is to enjoy the journey, right? And that being the case, I would say this week's Suns not only filled the glass to the brim, but outright ran it over.