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Inside the Numbers: The November/December Comparisons

Suns Dejection (Photo by Max Simbron)
Suns Dejection (Photo by Max Simbron)

This is a tale of two months. Watch how your beloved Suns went from Western Conference and Power Ranking leaders in November (leaving us all stunned and joyous) to one of the more frustrating, inconsistent squads in the league (December). Here are the splits of our top 6 players, what can the numbers tell us?

Amare Stoudemire

MONTH

G

PPG

RPG

RB

FG%

FG

TO/G

RANK

PF/G

RANK

NOVEMBER

15

20.0

7.1

107

58.6

116-198

2.5

5

3.7

2ND

DECEMBER

16

21.2

10.2

163

54.9

130-237

2.9

2

3.8

4TH

Thoughts:

  • Amare stepped up is rebounding in December. And while his points per game increased slightly, his field goal accuracy decreased, which is most likely a result of a significant increase in field goal attempts in December.
  • Stoudemire has been known having good hands for a big man. Yet this year we have seen him fumble around with passes and otherwise show sub par ball handling skills even for a big man. The numbers illustrate an increase in turnovers per game from November to December. Among Western Conference forwards, Stoudemire ranked 5th worse in TO's per game in November. In December, his 2.9 TO's per game ranked second worst among Western Conference forwards.  
  • We've seen Stoudemire have huge first quarters only to run into foul trouble thereby limiting his time on the court, and disrupting his rhythm and ability to turn his quick starts into monster games. In November, Stoudemire's 3.7 personal fouls per game, ranked him 2nd worst among Western Conference Forwards. In December, Amare ranked 4th worst with a slightly higher 3.8 PF, per game. 

Steve Nash

MONTH

G

PPG

APG

ASST

FG%

FG

3PT

3PT%

TO

A/TO

AP/48

PTS

NOVEMBER

15

15.8

11.8

177

53.7

87-162

23-52

44.2

3.9

 3.1

17.8

237

DECEMBER

16

20.5

10.3

163

54.6

124-227

28-66

42.4

3.6

2.81

14.2

328

Thoughts:

  • Steve Nash is the prototypical PG in that he looks to get his teammates involved before looking for his own shot. However, with Leandro Barbosa on the DL, opponent defenses adjusting to the Channing Frye effect, and plain and simple cold shooting (39% in December compared to 42% in November), Nash was forced in December to take more shots (55) than the previous month. The result were less assists, slightly less turnovers and 81 more points scored.  Also of note was Nash slightly increased his field goal percentage while his 3 accuracy beyond the arc decreased.
  • As his average assists decreased in December, we also saw a decrease in his assist to turnover ratio, which is not a surprise, and his assists per 48 minutes decrease as well. The Suns dependence on Nash to score is a double edged sword. Sure we love him to shoot, because he makes an awful lot of buckets, but we also need him-Amare Stoudemire needs him to feed in the paint, Frye and the wings need him to drive and kick out for open threes. 

Channing Frye

MONTH

G

PPG

FG%

3PT%

3PT

RPG

PF/G

NOVEMBER

15

12.3

45

44.3

39-88

5.7

 3.4

DECEMBER

16

12.9

46

41.3

38-92

6.2

3.2

Thoughts

  • I would have bet that Channing Frye's  3-point and overall field goal percentage dipped from the first full month of the season to December. However, his field goald percentage slightly increased while his 3 PT accuracy decreased 3%. The good news for Channing and the Suns were his rebounding numbers increased, which is absolutely necessary for the Suns to have any chance to reduce the second chance points they allow and compete with the bigger centers in the league
  • Another thought on the personal fouls that could be misleading: Frye often had to leave early on in a game to stay out of further foul trouble. When he returns to the game, he is most likely concerned about picking more fouls which could lead to more tentative defense, whereby he allows his man to score more, but in his mind he doesn't pick up that 4th or 5th foul in the 3rd quarter (that's just me trying to think like Channing).

Grant Hill

MONTH

G

MPG

RPG

RB

FG

FG%

PPG

NOVEMBER

15

34

6.4

101

65-139

47

11.3

DECEMBER

16

32

4

64

67-151

44

10.7

Thoughts:

  • Grant Hill was leading the Suns in rebounding for the first few weeks of the season. It was an unexpected surprise from the elder statesman of the squad, however it obviously didn't last.  Hill has been steadily trending downward in all major categories, most significantly in rebounding and FG%. However, I was fairly surprised that his numbers didn't dip more than they actually did. 
  • I cannot say I am disappointed with Hill's numbers, he is what he is-a great leader, locker room presence, and he can still ball, albeit not as well as he used to, that's what getting older does to you.

Jason Richardson

MONTH

G

MPG

PPG

FG

FG%

3PT

3PT%

PPG

NOVEMBER

15

31

17.7

99-189

52

99-189

46

17.7

DECEMBER

15

33

13.1

76-185

41

76-185

25

13.1

Thoughts:

  • It could be argued that other than Steve Nash, Jason Richardson's production is the most important on the squad. Yes Amare Stoudemire's production has been very important to the Suns success, however, if the Suns aren't able to space the floor and consistently pose outside threats to other teams, it's much easier to key in on Nash and Amare, and ignore the open wings if they are tossing up bricks. I would suggest Richardson's downward trending numbers numbers are a major reason for the Suns' December slide. Not unlike Grant Hill, we see decreases in every major category for Richardson. Most significantly are his FG, 3P% and points per game. 
  • In games won, Richardson averages 17.9 ppg. In games lost, Richardson averages 11.3. Not surprisingly, his total FG% and 3PT FG% tumble in Suns losses-38% and 21% respectively. 
  • Richardson also seems to have the most trouble in back to back games. With 1 days rest, Richardson averages 17 ppg, in back to backs, 12.5. 

Jared Dudley

MONTH

G

FG

FG%

3PT

3PT%

RB

RPG

PPG

NOVEMBER

15

45-99

46

26-54

48

32

3.3

9.3

DECEMBER

16

51-111

46

29-52

56

39

3.8

9.6

Thoughts:

 

  • The league leader in 3-point field goal accuracy has only improved from beyond the arc. He's stayed pretty consistent all season in all other categories.
  • I have to say though, I was slightly surprised at his rebounding averages. I was thinking his defensive minded junkyard dog diving on the floor mindset would produce him more rebounds per game. But Dudley isn't really that big of a guy, and while his effort may pick up key rebounds here and there, fire up the team and excite the crowd, he is more of a one on one defender than he is a rebounder.

Conclusions

Obviously these numbers don't tell the whole story (number alone usually don't). And considering the fact that we have only completed two full months, our sample size is small enough to where we cannot make many earth shattering conclusions.  We do know the first two months of the Suns schedule had some ridiculous portions that would have given a lot of teams trouble. Further, much of the Suns struggles are team struggles. Defense and rebounding may break down to some one on one battles, but if rotations are slow, boxouts weak or nonexistent, the deluge of offensive rebounds and second chance points yielded becomes contagious somehow. The same goes with cold shooting. For the Suns to be successful, they MUST shoot well. They simply don't play enough defense to withstand shooting 35% from the field.

What do you all conclude after looking at these numbers?