The offseason, training camp and preseason are finally over. Your 2016-17 Phoenix Suns showed us last night in their final preseason game that they are going to be a mish-mash of highlights and lowlights as they fight for every win based more on supreme effort than on execution.
First, the good. Watch these highlights of the Suns vs. Lakers to see the very best plays by each team that made up a Suns 98-94 win.
Nine minutes of game highlights here!
Watching these highlights show you how the Suns want to win games this year.
Fast breaks, quick passes and long range bombs will be all the rage, while Tyson Chandler and Marquese Chriss will do their best to rock the rim on occasion.
The Suns will try to overcome their awful shooting (3rd worst this preseason in Effective Field Goal %) by crashing the boards on their own misses (3rd highest ORB% and #1 overall in second-chance points), drawing free throws (3rd highest FT attempt rate) and scoring on fast breaks (3rd most PPG on fast breaks).
But those highlights also give a glimpse of the bad. The new offense - based on constantly passing the ball - will lead to a boatload of turnovers, many of them creating points for the opposition in transition.
The Suns may very well lead the league in fast breaks, but also lead the league in fast break points allowed. That’s exactly what’s happened in preseason so far, and didn’t look any more under control on Friday night with the projected starters getting regular minutes.
Factor in teenagers Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender joining a rotation already boasting almost-20 Devin Booker and still-23 T.J. Warren and Alex Len, and you’ve got a very unpredictable set of players on the court much of the time.
You can also see how the pass-first offense was eschewed at times, with many of the Suns second-half scores coming on isolation plays from Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Brandon Knight. That’s going to happen too. The players will lose faith in the pass-first offense when pressure is on, thinking that keeping the ball will reduce back-breaking turnovers without realizing taking a bad shot is also most likely a turnover too.
Ugly... But we came out with the win that's all that matters... Real season starts now— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) October 22, 2016
While T.J. Warren can always be counted on to make 50+% of his shots no matter how high the volume, the rest of the Suns most frequent ball handlers and shot takers are not so efficient.
- Devin Booker: 5-17 (Remember, he barely shot 40% last spring)
- Brandon Knight: 4-10 (career 41% shooter)
- Eric Bledsoe: 2-11 (career 44% shooter)
- Alex Len: 6-16 (really struggles to make half his shots, but still takes a ton of them anyway)
The Suns will be buoyed by high-percentage shooters among their veteran role players. Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley, P.J. Tucker and Leandro Barbosa, along with T.J. Warren, will all make about 50% of their shots or even better, but all of them need the aforementioned low-efficiency shooters to pass them the ball first.
Hopefully, coach Watson can convince his ball handlers to continue their pass-first mentality beyond the intermission when crunch time hits. You’ll see late in the game highlights that the Suns sealed their win on a well-designed play to get Jared Dudley an open three.
Hopefully as the season progresses, the quick-pass offense will find its rhythm as players get more used to it, reducing turnovers and increasing faith in the process.
Until then, expect low percentage shooting buoyed by a fast-paced game that includes a boatload of fast breaks, offensive rebounds and second-chance points for both teams.