The Phoenix Suns have had the "soft" reputation since before acid washed jeans were considered cool. In the past, their defense has been insulted on national TV by certain individuals and well, the proof certainly is in the puddin'. The game plan of nearly every Suns opponent has always included attacking the rim.
But this season the Suns have shown inconsistent signs of being a quality defensive team. Which is much better than being awful all the time. It helps having Grant Hill as a lock down guy whose game consistently emulates the moniker.
But what of the Suns bigs? Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, and Robin Lopez all have some shortcomings defensively. But size and conditioning are not one of them. One would think that 3 players sizing at or north of the 6' 10'' region should be challenging and blocking shots.
Gortat and Channing Frye are both averaging over a block a game, and if we go per 36 minutes, Robin Lopez tops the Suns at 2 per game, while Gortat, Frye, and Markieff Morris average 1.7, 1.5, and 1.2 respectively.
Blocks Per 36 Minutes
Blocked shots helping Phoenix Suns' defense reach new heights: Paul Coro/AZ Central
"We have size, and the size can move. On the first two days of training camp, I'm looking at our (big men) and thinking, 'These guys can run the floor. They're agile. Nobody's overweight. Body fat is low.' It's all the athletic features that make up a basketball player. I knew there should be some rim protection there."
Elston Turner's defensive philosophy in the paint is what we all clamor for while watching a game. In my terms (which could be Turner's terms on the practice floor), is "knock a guy on his a**" instead of letting him have an easy shot or dunk. That's not rocket science, but it does tend to get the bigs into foul trouble when the Suns perimeter defense can't contain their men. Nevertheless, the message is loud and clear, and for the moment, being heeded by the Suns big men.
Another basic defensive concept are the rotations inside. Said Lopez: "We've been concentrating more on being there on the help side and having each others' backs on defense...I'm getting more comfortable and more rhythm."
The current defensive numbers in the past several games indicate positive trends for the Suns. Phoenix has limited their opponents to under 100 points in 5 of the last 6 games, while averaging 6.6 blocks, good for #3 in the NBA. Further, the Suns +5.40 rebounding differential in the past 5 is good for 4th in the NBA.