The Phoenix Suns are playing better. They are 9-2 in the month of March and the offense has been given a lot of the credit. But in doing some research for Tuesday's game against the Miami Heat, I came across two very telling statistics: In March the Suns were the 7th best offensive rebounding team in the NBA and had the 8th best turnover ratio according to NBA.com stats.
Rebounding and turnovers...that sounds familiar. Let's go back to February 29th and watch what Alvin Gentry had to say:
"The two things that I think have hurt us the most this year has been the offensive rebounding and obviously our turnovers."
Honestly, I could find at least 10 different times when Gentry talked about not turning the ball over and rebounding better as keys to the Suns season.
Well, turns out he's right even if he's not talked about it much during this winning stretch.
The Suns turnover ratio was 12.55 in January and fell to 9.91 in March whle the offensive rebounding rate improved from 23.4% to 28.6%. In real numbers that's a drop from 15.7 to 12.9 turnovers per game and an increase of 9.9 to 11.5 offensive rebounds per game.
As a result, second chance points up from 9.1 per game to 14.1 in March. That focus on offensive rebounding does come with a price as the Suns have also allowed an additional 2.8 fast break points per game but as you can see, that's obviously still a net win when you combine the additional put-backs with fewer turnovers.
Where are those extra offensive rebounds coming from?
An extra 1.6 OReb per game which doesn't sound like much, but offensive rebounds often lead to high percentage shots and have the added effect of taking a possession away from the opponent. And there's no denying five extra second-chance points per game. That's huge.
Here's who's stepped up:
- Channing Frye accounts for .7 more ORebs per game in March (.9) vs. January (1.6).
- Marcin Gortat added an additional .2 per game (2.3 in Jan vs. 2.5 in Mar).
- Robin Lopez (who's playing an extra 3.4 minutes per game) is also up from .9 OReb in Jan to 1.7 in March.
- Jared Dudley has added an additional .7 ORebs per game as well, up to 2.1 per game from 1.4.
Those four "bigs" have combined for an additional 2.4 of the Suns 1.6 additional offensive rebounds!
Consider also that the Suns shooting percentage increased from 44.7% to 47.4% which means on average .9 fewer missed shots per game.
That's how you go from the 26th best (total) rebounding team to the 8th best. Impressive.