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Despite hot start, Suns could be even better

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They’re in a four-way tie for the best record in the NBA.

Phoenix Suns v Indiana Pacers Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Through ten games this season, the Suns are 7-3.

Phoenix basketball is in good company as the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers also stand at that mark. No team in the league currently has a higher winning percentage than they do.

As weird as it is to say, the franchise is winning games with their defense after being known for doing so with their offense for so long. They’re pesky and grinding, using their athleticism and three-point shooting as well as very welcome production from their bench in their early success.

However, as good as they are out of the gates, it’s just a start. The good news is unlike last season, it seems they’re just getting started.

Tom Chambers talked with Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Friday, saying “This is a legit team and they feel as though they’ve only scratched the surface. They’re just getting warmed up. You feel the energy, you feel that they know they’re something special and it’s just going to continue. It’s been over a decade for us to really get excited about something and there truly is something there with this group.”

While everyone is enjoying how the team is playing and where they stand, you might ask how they could be better.

HEALTH

Dario Saric has missed 40 percent of the games so far and rookie Jalen Smith has only played in two matches. Also, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul have looked easily winded and Jae Crowder has been inconsistent thus far after a Finals run with the Heat led to a very short offseason for him.

TEAM OFFENSE

The Suns are making their shots at a good enough rate. That’s not the issue. It’s just they could be shooting a higher volume. Despite ranking 11th in field goal percentage and just 0.2% shy of a top-ten rank there, only seven teams have fewer attempts. Also, only the Memphis Grizzlies are going to the free throw line less.

INDIVIDUAL SHORTCOMINGS

Ask any player on this roster and they’ll tell you they don’t care about their own numbers as long as the end result is a W. That is a huge reason why this team has done so well thus far. However, there doesn’t need to be much focus on that area and it could and should still get better.

Let’s take a look at a few players.

Jevon Carter

The minutes have been there for him and he’ll always pick up the opposing player for all 94 feet and cause headaches. However, he has been in a slump early. It happens and he’ll snap out of it, which will add another element to the Suns. That may already be happening.

In the first seven games, he only made 2 of 15 triples for a total of 16 points and 2 steals. In the last three games, he’s made 4 of 9 treys and averaged 5.3 points while adding 5 steals and 3 blocks.

On a positive note, Jevon has only had TWO turnovers in 128 minutes. We’re glad to have you, Coach Carter.

Chris Paul

CP3 brings elite skill, solid focus and a wealth of knowledge of the game while a mentality that pushes his teammates to be better and to be his best self. What you’ve seen so far is not his best form.

What’s great is even a fraction of his play still equates to one of the best floor leaders in the game. He is averaging the most assists (8.5) since his final year with the L.A. Clippers in 2016-17 as well as the fewest turnovers (1.7) in his career.

However, he is only shooting 29.6 percent from deep, which is 7.3 percent lower than his career mark (36.9%) and a career-low in steals.

Once he’s fully firing on all cylinders, Phoenix basketball jumps another level.

Deandre Ayton

We are seeing another form of Ayton out there on the floor, one that is driven to team defense and success and could care less about his own. That being said, he has all the tools as well as the best point guard he’s ever played with to make a leap on offense as well.

Through the first ten games, Deandre is averaging career lows in field goal attempts and points while logging career highs in field goal percentage, rebounds and free throw rate. Last season, he got to the line on 15.6 percent of his shots. This season, that’s gone all the way up to 26.3 percent.

He’s been efficient and when he starts to attack more and as he continues to build chemistry with Chris Paul, that duo will be a two-way force.

Devin Booker

The face of the franchise has been playing the best defense of his career and averaging 22 points per game on a .700 team is no joke. We all know how special he is, though.

Book is averaging the fewest field goal attempts and free throw attempts while scoring the least points per game since his rookie season. He’s also committing a career-high in turnovers, giving them out like it’s still the holidays and he has company over.

Again, I’m not worried about him. Devin is the man and a very special player. My only issue is he’s getting national attention now and with the team playing as good as it is, he could arguably be a front runner for MVP. He deserves that recognition. Let’s go, Book!


Bottom line

We are all enjoying the early success of our Phoenix Suns and this is no knock on anyone as I’m loving this start, no matter how it happens. My thinking, though, is this team could be so much better and why not root for that too.