It looks like the Phoenix Suns (5-2) internally, and now, externally, are starting to make some believers out of the fans and the rest of the NBA alike. The sample size is still relatively small, but after 8.5% of the season the Suns are one of the better looking young teams in the league.
This week one thing was evident, there is a new Markieff Morris in town.
For the first time in his career Markieff is playing consistent basketball inside 12-feet and in its most basic form, playing power forward. In his first 147 games Markieff had never put together a string of games like he has in last four games. Every game this week Markieff scored at least 17 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and shot over 45% from the field.
While Markieff was the individual story of the week it was a team effort to go 3-1 and continue this solid play. The team defense is continuing to evolve every game, getting better and better, allowing the Suns to experience offensive lulls and remain in the game.
So far this season the young talent that General Manager Ryan McDonough has acquired in Eric Bledsoe (24 years old, 20.9 points per game) and Miles Plumlee (25, 9.5 rebounds per game) have been playing at a very high level.
The Pelicans found out twice that the Suns have a young, dynamic team that is a few steps ahead of them despite all of their young celebrated talent. With all their injuries the Nuggets were not able to keep up with the Suns despite getting 21 third quarter points from Ty Lawson. Even the defending Western Conference Champion Spurs had to play to the final whistle to take out the young Suns that are either too inexperienced to know they are not supposed to be good or are too good for everyone to realize they are good.
It has only been two weeks, but still, this is a fun team that has played some great basketball this week.
8.4 Threes Per Game
This week the Suns are connecting on 8.4 three-pointers a game. On the season they are averaging 8.4 three-pointers a night giving them nearly 27 points from behind the arc, which is significant based on last season. Last year the team made 5.8 three-pointers a night, about 18 points a game, and with this years roster they are getting more from deep.
The team is shooting 35.9% from three this year, a good percentage, not elite, but good enough to allow them to balance the offense and be more opportunistic this season.
Quote of the Week
"I hold my athleticism in high regard. I think I am as athletic as anybody my size. He has his length and he is really impressive, but, tonight, I didn't even really know I had more. I guess I had more." Asked after the game how if felt to out-block Anthony Davis in the Sunday night game. Confident, but composed reply.
Bonus Quote from Miles: "It is a different look," after the win over New Orleans Plumlee celebrated with a black turtle-neck, which drew some critical reviews from teammates, but he kept his composure defending his style preference.
2014 NBA Draft Update
Or as I like to call this; Surrogate Watch. The Suns have four potential first round picks this year with the moves they have made this summer (and even with some help from Lance Blanks!) which is equally as entertaining to watch as the team in general this season.
College basketball has started meaning the players everyone has been speculating could don the purple and orange are on full display.
Here is a snapshot of the four picks today:
Indiana Pacers (7-0) -- No. 30 Overall -- Based on the rules of the trade this pick would go to the Suns. The prospect in that slot on my Big Board is Duke sophomore wing, Rodney Hood. In the season debut for Duke Hood played well, scored 22 points, and is an athletic lefty that has a lot of potential.
Phoenix Suns (5-2) -- T-No. 27 Overall -- This is the Suns pick, so in-turn, it is theirs to use as they please. Nevada senior point guard Deonte Burton is in this spot today. Burton is a strong, athletic point guard that is of similar build to Eric Bledsoe and is capable of making big plays above the rim and late in the shot-clock.
Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2) -- T-No. 27 Overall -- Based on the rules of the trade this pick would go to the Suns. Ironically there is another Kentucky Wildcat on the board here for the team in Alex Poythress, a former teammate of Archie Goodwin. Athletic forward, defensive oriented, and has the potential to be a two-way player on the perimeter.
Washington Wizards (2-4) -- T-No. 4 Overall -- Based on the rules of the trade this pick would remain in Washington and the Suns would not get the pick. A Top 5 pick in this years draft could mean a potential franchise changer and on the board at No. 4 is Dante Exum, a potential franchise changing combo guard from Australia.
Follow along with the 2014 NBA Draft as the season progresses.
News & Notes
A quick rundown of the different news worthy elements of the week and the week ahead:
- Markieff Morris notched his career-high in points (28, against Denver), third most rebounds ever (12, at San Antonio), and the second most free-throw attempts (8, against Denver) this week.
- Markieff is also the NBA's second leading scorer off of the bench, behind only Sacramento Kings point Guard Isaiah Thomas
- Goran Dragic missed two games this week with an ankle injury, but returned at the end to play 30 minutes off the bench against New Orleans.
- Gerald Green put together for the first time in his career five straight games of 10+ points doing so as a starter and a reserve.
- Eric Bledsoe is the NBA's No. 2 scorer in the fourth quarter at 8.7 points per fourth quarter behind only Kevin Durant who is averaging 9.6 points per fourth quarter.
Suns History Lesson
This week in Suns history they did a lot of scoring. On November 14th, 1997 in a game played in Portland the Suns won 140-139 in quadruple overtime. This was, at the time, only the fourth game of that kind in NBA history and the first in over ten years. Here is proof that the game happened, the Suns were led by Danny Manning off the bench (35 points 10 rebounds) and Rex Chapman (28 points) while the Blazers had three players with 30+ point double-doubles in Brian Grant (34 points 17 rebounds), Isaiah Rider (35 points 11 rebounds), and Arvydas Sabonis (31 points 10 rebounds).
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Wednesday, November 13th @ Portland Trail Blazers (4-2)
Friday, November 15th vs. Brooklyn Nets (2-4)
Only two games on tap this week, one on the road, and one at home. The Suns opened up the regular season against Portland and made them look undisciplined, lethargic, and not ready for the NBA season. That game was the widest margin of victory for the Suns this year (+13) and set the bench mark for the season. In that game the Blazers could not buy a three (8/26), getting nothing from their key reserve Mo WIlliams (1-9 FG), and relying 100% on the individual scoring of both Damian Lillard (32 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points).
That game was also played not only without the new Markieff Morris, but without Markieff at all as he was serving a one game suspension.
The Nets will bring interesting individual match-ups as their perimeter trio all have good size and the ability to take over a game offensively. Last year the Suns held Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in check (25 total points combined), but struggled with the Nets before they added the Celtic due losing both games by an average of 11.0 points per game. This is a different team with Jason Kidd as head coach and more balanced team across the board.
It will be another week of tests for the Suns. Can they handle playing two playoff caliber teams in the same week? Can they keep their heads out of the clouds as the bandwagon fills up? Will they be able to maintain this pace? All important questions that will be addressed this week in a vacuum.