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Stephen’s Study: (more) positive bench play

A quick stop in Denver presented a “rocky proposition” in task for the injury-riddled Suns

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

A proverbial “scheduled loss” was just what last night’s game was for the Phoenix Suns. Following the successes and multiple efforts applied for a win against the fully loaded defending champions, while stretched thin due to injury no-less, the rocky mountain presented by the second night of a back-to-back against the Denver Nuggets, who were coming off a day of rest themselves, set the table for a nearly impossible feat, resulting in a 97-126 loss.

1.) More Board Talk

We’ve spoken on rebounding plenty lately, with great reasoning. Even in this rendition, the Suns went up against two fully healthy and direct contenders in the western conference and were persistent on the glass.

They had a rebound percentage of 55.9% against the Warriors, and, when garbage time started at the 9:41 mark of the fourth, they were winning, again, at 55.3%.

Speaking on little things over the course of a game, when fully intact of course, these are the positive habits you want at your foundation.

Especially when looking at what you hope to translate to postseason play.

They’ve won the rebounding battle in the last two games, sans Deandre Ayton, and it’s a very telling sign to see a collective pursuit of the rock from the unit.

There’s a particular lens I suggest watching the Suns through in this present state they’re operating in, and the efforts on the glass have been a shining entity.

A compilation could be made of the athletic efforts from Craig, Okogie, and Wainright in an attempt to either garner an extra possession or stamp a defensive stop.

Being this stubborn and persistent in pursuit of the rock over the course of 48 minutes weighs on a team.

Good habits are sustaining amidst the chaos presented via injury.

2.) Bench Production

The Suns have seen a handful of bench unit renditions over the last month, due to players being promoted to the starting unit and the traditional rotation being thrown out the window.

Last night, again at the start of garbage time, that unit all compiled positives in plus-or-minus. This isn’t always a tell-tell sign for productivity, but when you apply the context of consistency in its occurrence, it begins to make more sense.

One of the most consistent of that group is Damion Lee, who was +5. In addition to Wainright (+8), Landale (+3), Okogie (+3), and newly-acquired Saben Lee (+5).

A game that saw the Suns on the climb back from its inception, and by nearly double digits even more, that is a positive to take away from this one.

As Williams and company begin to parse the rotation when players return to the lineup, I’m sure he will find great solace knowing that the sty of talent compiled on the fringes can be relied upon for spot minutes in a pinch as we inch closer to the finish line and games grow more meaningful.

Up Next: The Suns will travel to Minnesota for a matchup with the Timberwolves, set for Friday.

They’re 4-3 over the last two weeks, with the 12th-ranked defense at 113.7. They’re slowly finding their footing and should present another tough challenge for the injury-riddled Suns, on the road.

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