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Inside the Suns - Topics: Thoughts on the Suns’ offense, defense and their bench

Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.

Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.

First up... the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - Offensively, the Suns are ranked 7th in the NBA but what do you think they could still improve on in their offense?

GuarGuar: I think our 3 point shooting has been slightly disappointing but that’s something where variance is really in play. I like the pace and ball movement we play with. I really don’t have any complaints about our offense.

Sun-Arc: Shooting is the first thing that comes to mind that needs improvement. I know all shooting percentages are down around the league, but its painful to see our team struggle with it. I’m waiting for Cam Johnson and Crowder to get used to the new ball. Better shooting would allow the starters to get more rest and the bench to get more cohesion.

SouthernSun: If Ayton wasn’t afraid to put the ball on the floor, and would drive to the rim more than once every three games, maybe that would help. Mikal is doing about all he can feasibly do. I don’t expect him to be a really good scorer. However, from what everyone who loves Ayton so much seems to think, I should see more from Ayton. But he seems to lack some offensive skills I would have assumed he’d have by now. If we want him to be a max cornerstone kind of player, then he’s going to need to be able to give us more on that end than he currently is. Just that would make the Suns a top 5 offense. And no, it’s not because he “doesn’t get passed to enough”. Sorry if this was blunt, but I’m feeling sassy.

Alex S: More consistently hitting the 3 ball would be my area for improvement. There haven’t been many games where perimeter shooting was the big difference maker that lead to the Suns winning a game. There have been a couple games lately that have been encouraging, such as the Nuggets game but that would still be my one area I’m looking at for improvement.

Rod: Getting the ball to DA when a switch leaves him guarded by a smaller player. The Suns have been getting better at recognizing these mismatches but I think there’s still room for improvement.

Q2 - Defensively, the Suns are ranked 3rd in the NBA but what do you think they could still improve on in their defense?

GuarGuar: I wish we would trap high level guards more in pick and rolls. Guys like Dame, Trae, etc have had big nights on us because we refuse to get out of our drop coverage.

Sun-Arc: The defense looks pretty darn good. Usually they have great rotations and switches. They could be a bit more active in guarding the paint on PnR coverage. Sometimes Ayton is left alone guarding both the pick and the roll man. Figuring that out takes a more experienced mind than mine on how to solve that issue.

SouthernSun: I truly don’t think there is really all that much they can do to improve. For all the crap I give Ayton for his offense, he’s been much better defensively than I thought he would end up being. So I’m pleased with that. Mikal is fantastic. CP3 is still pretty solid on that end. Booker is trying. Jae is great. McGee is helpful. Shamet isn’t terrible. No notes.

Alex S: Now this one is tough. I think my answer would be there seems to be instances every game where we’ll let our guard down and allow for a quick 7-0 run due to not communicating/leaving guys open that can knock down open shots. If we were able to limit the amount of times this happened, you’d see a bit more consistent of play. That being said, when you’ve won 13 in a row it’s really not a big thing to complain about.

Rod: With the 3rd best D in the league, there aren’t any obvious holes in their defense. Book in particular needs to get hold of his temper and avoid the ticky-tac frustration fouls he makes sometimes after not getting calls from the refs though. I also feel as though they tend to relax a little too much (on both ends of the court) after getting out to a double-digit lead. No big problems to be addressed though which is a huge plus.

Q3 - In general, what are your thoughts/observations on the Suns’ bench?

GuarGuar: They’ve finally been playing better as a unit. Been a disappointing start for them no doubt. I would like to see us stagger our stars more as that will be what we do in the playoffs.

Sun-Arc: The bench has been kind of up and down. Shamet seems to be getting a bit more comfortable, but he’s not getting up enough shots for my liking. And the bench overall does not seem to move the ball as much as they could/should. Sometimes they shoot well, sometimes not. Sometimes the defense is not super focused. Consistent positive outcomes would be nice, and I think they’ll get there. It will take more repetitions and practice- because the tools are there. Shamet and Johnson have been really solid on defense. They just need their shots to also drop to let the offense flow.

SouthernSun: With Kaminsky out for awhile, they sure could use somebody like Thad Young. They better hope somebody falls in their laps around the trade deadline, because right now the front line is looking a little thin. Ayton and McGee are a great center duo, but if one goes down, we’re looking at heavy Jalen Smith minutes, and those are to be avoided at all costs.

Alex S: I think the collective talent with adding McGee/Shamet is a bigger upgrade than the losses (Craig and Carter) sustained this offseason. It felt that way from the start but JaVale’s play has exceeded my expectations.

Landry is playing the type of ball I was expecting but boy has McGee been a bright spot for this group this year. And underrated part about JaVale being added to your roster is the positive he brings for the chemistry side. It’s been a pleasure watching his updates after the games and just the general positivity he brings to this years group.

Rod: They’ve been playing better lately but one thing the 2nd unit guys need to work on is their turnovers. Overall the Suns are 9th in turnovers. Looking at the stats between the starters and the bench, the Suns’ starters are tied for 1st in the NBA (7.5 per game) compared to other starters but the bench is tied for 23rd (6.0 per game) compared to other benches.

Cam Payne and JaVale McGee are the main culprits, each with 1.7 TOs per game (third highest on the team). 1.7 TOs per game doesn’t sound that bad but together that’s 3.4 TOs in the 16-17 minutes they average which is more TOs per minute than either Book or CP3 who lead the team in TOs.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!

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Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Who would you rather have playing center for the Suns?

75% - Deandre Ayton.

25% - Karl-Anthony Towns.

A total of 281 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Which has been the more impressive during the Suns’ win streak?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Their offense.
    (11 votes)
  • 92%
    Their defense.
    (140 votes)
151 votes total Vote Now

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