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Early-Season Review: 11 games, 11 key statistics

We are now 15 percent of the way through the 72-game season and on a (hopefully) brief hiatus, so let’s break down some interesting statistics thus far for the Suns.

Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Now that we have this hiatus, let’s evaluate the small sample size of games we have under our belt. There have been three games postponed to date, and Monday’s game against Memphis on TNT looks to be in jeopardy at the moment. If that gets delayed it would truly be a shame for a team that has rarely received the national spotlight over the years.

But without further ado, let’s dive into 11 key statistics that have stood out to me in one way or another.

1. Free Throw Attempts per-game: 26th in NBA

The Suns sit 26th in the league in free throw attempts at just 19.4 attempts per-game, only trailing the Spurs, Cavs, Jazz and Grizzlies. This obviously needs to change, and it derives from the majority of the players on this team not attacking the rim frequently enough. Last year they finished 10th in the NBA in free throw attempts at 23.8, and while those extra 4.4 attempts may not seem like a lot on the surface, that’s an extra 3-4 points per game they could surely use.

2. Free Throw Percentage: 2nd in NBA

The good news? The Suns are one of the best free throw shooting teams in the league, again. The bad news? They are one of the worst teams at getting there: see point above. If Booker was his usual automatic self from the charity stripe they’d be in 1st in the league yet again after shattering the all-time NBA record for team free throw shooting percentage last season.

3. Three Point Percentage: 14th in NBA

Phoenix has been very hit or miss from deep this season and it’s only fitting that the balancing act of being in the middle of the league at 14 overall (36.7%) from deep is where they are at. As long as they sit in the 10-15 range with a high volume this is an ideal area to be in.

4. Turnovers per-game: 3rd in NBA

Despite Devin Booker’s early turnover struggles, the Suns are only averaging 12.6 turnovers per-game. This is the Chris Paul effect along with having competent wings such as Crowder, Bridges and Johnson that rarely make mistakes or play outside themselves.

5. Net Rating: 7th in NBA

Phoenix sits at +3.7 in net rating which is good for 7th in the association at the moment. It’s a positive to see this line up with their record, because early season flukes can often times be spotted by net rating not matching the record.

6. True Shooting Percentage: 8th in NBA

Here’s another positive statistic that the Suns are top 10 in the league for, boasting a shiny 58.5% True Shooting percentage. This isn’t all that shocking considering they have some of the best finishers in the league, a top tier free throw percentage and above league average 3 point percentage. They should finish in the top 10 in this category with ease.

7. Pace: 29th in NBA

This is yet again the Chris Paul effect. The Suns are playing at a pace of 97.35, and only the Knicks play slower than them currently. This is why I believe they need to do a better job of getting more transition opportunities throughout the game whether it’s off turnovers or leaking out after securing rebounds. The pace itself is fine (and expected with CP3) but there needs to be more transition where guys like Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges thrive.

8. Steals: 29th in NBA

Averaging just 5.5 steals per-game after nabbing 7.7 last season is yet another dip that is directly related to the points off turnovers decrease (which we’ll get into). There is no way they finish this low in this category, I call this one a fluke and think they’ll get closer to league average as the season goes along.

9. Opponent free throw attempts: 25th in NBA

Allowing 24.5 free-throw attempts per-game while only shooting 19.4 per-game is quite the potential 4-5 point swing that could really swing close games in the opposite direction. They need to play a bit more disciplined defensively and attack the rim more and embrace contact offensively. The refs aren’t giving them much respect, but you have to ignore that at this point.

10. Points off turnovers: 27th in NBA

Averaging a mere 14.8 points per-game off turnovers is not ideal for a team that was 6th in the league at 18.5 per-game a season ago. Generating easy buckets in transition off turnovers can do a lot for a team that plays such a slow pace in the half court game and could unlock some additional confidence as the game goes on.

11. Assist to Turnover Ratio: 2nd in NBA

The Suns placing in second in the league in assist to turnover ratio at a pristine 2.05 is encouraging, and it should only improve as Booker cuts down on his mistakes. I’m sure this is a statistic that has Monty Williams smiling from ear-to-ear.

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