How in the world have the Phoenix Suns started winning by losing?
While suffering the worst front office and public relations week in recent memory, and that’s saying A LOT, the Phoenix Suns suddenly appear to have turned the corner to become a team with an identity that compliments their stars and, drum roll please, can win games.
Over the past week, the Suns have thundered to the FIRST four-game winning streak of Devin Booker’s three-plus year career while beating three teams with a winning record and two of them on the road.
Now, the Suns have more wins over winning teams than Trevor Ariza’s new homies in Washington. The Suns are 6-19 against winning teams, while the Wizards are just 4-13.
That 6-19 record for the Suns looks abysmal, but consider that only the Jazz (26) have played more games against winning teams this year than the Suns with their 25, versus only 7 games against teams with a losing record.
Just to pick on the Wizards for a moment, for reasons I’ll likely explain later, the Wiz have played more than twice as many games (15) against losing teams as the Suns have played (7). The Wizards are 8-7 in those games, while the Suns so far are just 2-5 against losing teams this season. Most of those Suns losses to losers were without Devin Booker and T.J. Warren by the way, while the Wizards have been lucky enough to have their two best players — John Wall and Bradley Beal — available for all but 2 games between them.
Back to the four-game winning streak.
One of those wins came with the everyone-knows-its-his-final-game “veteran influence” Trevor Ariza, who pioneered the inexplicable ability to be the team’s absolute worst plus/minus person among a regular rotation of players who are almost all still on rookie-scale contracts. What a guy.
The next three wins came without Ariza, but thankfully with Devin Booker back in the fold and the Suns rotation suddenly looking viable again.
They beat the Timberwolves and Celtics, sandwiching a win over the injury-riddled Knicks, by playing a really fun brand of switching and deflecting defense with just enough offense from Booker and company to close out the wins.
Suns ranks during this stretch — again, against three winning teams:
- OffRtg: 9th (111 points per 100 possessions vs. year-long 101)
- DefRtg: 4th (100.8 points per 100 possessions vs. year-long billion)
- NetRtg: T2nd (+10.2 vs. year-long minus-bajillion)
- Offensive rebound %: 4th (32.8% — mostly thanks to Deandre Ayton)
- Total rebound %: 10th overall (51.6% vs. year-long bottom 5)
- Steals: 6th (9.3 per game)
- Blocks: 7th (5.8 per game)
- Opponent points in the paint: 9th (44 per game)
When was the last time the Phoenix Suns won four in a row?
March 15-22, 2015.
That was the last time the Suns were a winning team, coming out of that 4-game streak with a 38-33 record and only 11 games left in the season.
From that point on, the Suns have won less than 25 percent of their games — losing three out of every four games — over more than three seasons.
- 1-10 to close out the 2014-15 season
- 23-59 in 2015-16
- 24-58 in 2016-17
- 21-61 in 2017-18
- 4-24 to start the 2018-19 season
Even more depressing, the Suns last 82 games before this four-game winning streak sported an abysmal 16-66 record with no more than two wins in a row.
Despite all that, the Suns are now officially 4-6 for the month of December — the closest they’ve been to a winning month in a year (the Suns were an exciting 6-9 in December 2017).
So, enjoy this win streak.
Don’t fret over the future. We don’t know what this team will look like in February, let alone next season.
Don’t worry that the Suns are playing an entire rotation of rookie-scale players around old-man fifth year player T.J. Warren and a splash of 86 year old Jamal Crawford.
Don’t worry about the team’s owner and the almost-certain likelihood that he will screw something up in the near future.
Don’t worry about a stripped-down front office that doesn’t even scout much college basketball these days despite having a likely top-5 pick in the draft coming to them.
Don’t worry about anything today or tomorrow.
Just have fun anticipating new Suns’ wing Kelly Oubre Jr. blowing kisses to the Wizards crowd on Saturday night while he tries to kill his former team.
And just have fun making up snarky digs on Trevor Ariza as he (hopefully) loses to his old team that he was too good for.
The last time the Suns have a five-game winning streak?
How about December 17-28, 2014.
Let’s enjoy the idea that the Suns have a chance to roll with a five-game winning streak by beating the reeling, no-effort Washington Wizards who are just 12-20 on the season and gave up a franchise record 26 threes to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
After that, the Suns close out their road trip with tilts against the streaking Nets and surprisingly okay Magic.
It’s quite possible the Suns will return home with a respectable December record of 6-7 or 7-6.
Then they’re home against the Nuggets, Thunder and Warriors (oof) to close out the year, likely stifling their ability to finish the month with a winning record.
So, as I wrote above, enjoy it while you can!