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Center of the Sun: Driving us crazy by not driving to attack the rim

Your weekly roundup of Phoenix Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

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Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Current Record: 20-21

Offensive Rating: 114.4 (8th)

Defensive Rating: 112.3 (12th)

Net Rating: +2.1 (9th)

Week 12 was another rough week for the Suns as they now find themselves under .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2020. The Suns were 15-6 entering the month of December. Since then, they have gone 5-15 and have the worst winning percentage in the NBA during that time.


It sure was a nice two-year run of Suns basketball, wasn’t it? Like the lyric from Big Yellow Taxi that Joni Mitchell wrote in 1970, and the Counting Crows made popular in 2002, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Please don’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Four games in Week 12 provided four different ways to lose for Phoenix, all of them centered around one simple fact: the team can’t put points on the board.

Against the Knicks, the Suns looked abysmal in the first quarter and scored a season low 83 points. Against the Cavs (the first time), the Suns fell apart at the end and displayed poor shot selection with a chance to win the game. Against the Heat, the Suns looked inconsistent all game long and shot 26.1% from deep (their 5th worst 3PT performance of the year. Against the Cavs (the second time) they fell apart in the fourth. Again.

The team lacks the ability to put together four consecutive quality quarters right now. The team posted 4 of their 5 lowest point totals of the season in Week 12.

I tweeted it from the game on Friday because I observed an aspect of the game’s geometry that drove me insane while sitting in the courtside 200’s.

In the game against the Heat, the Suns drove the ball 45 times, per, passing out of the drives 17 times. Those 45 drives resulted in a total of 6 free throw attempts (all by Mikal Bridges).

When you start to analyze the data, it becomes fascinating because it confirms what you see on the court.

Suns drive the ball 41.5 times a game (24th in the NBA), have a 45.3 FG% when they do (27th), and average 22.3 points on drives (27th). Not surprisingly, they attempt 5.4 FTA as a result of their drives (26th).

This isn’t news to us, we know the Suns do not get to the line. When you witness it possession after possession, seeing the team opting to drive and kick rather than to drive and finish, it becomes frustrating.

Phoenix averages 20.7 free throw attempts per game (27th) because they don’t finish around the rim. That’s because they don’t get the ball in the paint, right? Wrong. The Suns average 26.1 paint touches per game (2nd) but their points per paint touch is .884 (16th).

Paint touches can be far away from the rim, right? Well, the team makes (15.4 FGM) and shoots (24.0 FGA) the least shots within five feet of the basket in the league.

The Suns have a laundry list of issues right now. They’re injured. And not just injured, they are decimated. They lack connectivity. It’s hard to implement anything offensively with such hurdles.

There is no quick fix either. Just time. Patience. And frustration.

Player of the Week

Duane Washington, Jr.

12 points, 1.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists

38.3 FG%, 41.2 3PT%, 83.3 FT%

Who else do you give it to? He’s the only guy who consistently attacks. He has the dog mentality. The team is broken, and DWJ is one of the few who is trying to generate offense.

It ain’t DA. It’s ain’t Mikal. It’s the guy on a two-way contract that you can count on for points. Sad, but true.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ New York Knicks (L, 102-83) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns @ Cleveland Cavaliers (L, 90-88) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns vs. Miami Heat (L, 104-96) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (L, 112-98) FULL RECAP

Highlights/Post Game Podcasts


403. Suns (20-18) @ Knicks Post Game Pod:


404. Suns (20-19) @ Cavs Post Game Pod:

HEAT at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 6, 2023:

405. Suns (20-20) vs. Heat Post Game Pod with SunsGeek:


406. Suns (20-21) vs. Cavs Post Game Pod:

News & Notes

Burn City Sports: Report: Suns Are In the Mix For Pistons Forward Bojan Bogdanovic

Fan Nation: Will the Suns Make a Bold Move for a Superstar? The Ringer Says Yes

CBS Sports: Why Suns might need Robert Sarver’s approval to complete a Jae Crowder trade

PR Newswire: BuzzRx® and Phoenix Suns Announce Multi-Year Partnership

12 News: Another Phoenix Suns collapse wastes a vintage Chris Paul performance in Cleveland

Burn City Sports: This Past Month Shows Just How Valuable Devin Booker is To the Suns

Arizona Sports: NBA All-Star voting: Suns’ Booker behind bevy of West guards

ESPN: The Hoop Collective: Phoenix Suns are stuck in a murky trade situation as the deadline nears

Arizona Sports: ‘Wanting the ball’: Deandre Ayton addresses role in Phoenix Suns offense

Arizona Central: Torrey Craig, Ish Wainright say struggling Suns remain among teams to beat in West

Quotes of the Week

“Winning trumps it all. I feel like once we get there, I feel like everything will be cool. We won’t be having conversations like this.” — Cameron Payne

“Hope he don’t try that s**t next game. I talked to him today. I sent him a lot of IG DMs. A lot of voice memos. Kept telling him, ‘Hey bro, don’t try to come get 80 tomorrow.’ Calm that s**t down.” — Mikal Bridges on facing Donovan Mitchell after his 71-point game

“It’s such a broken record. ‘No one is going to feel sorry for us.’ Captain Obvious for 500 Alex. It’s just one of those things that you know, but for me, I have to reinforce it, but also establish the fact that we can’t keep saying the same things. Guys have to grow.” — Monty Williams

“We played in the paint against a physical team. We only got 18 free throws. Again we’ve just got to keep going.” — Monty Williams after loss to Cavs

“Unfortunately I was involved in some huge baskets.” — Landry Shamet

“Coach trust me to make a play and I tried to get to my spot and it just didn’t go in.” — Mikal Bridges

“I’m not really upset if I’m not getting the ball, but it’s just I’m going to have to do a better job of being patient and controlling traffic a little bit when I’m out there.” — Deandre Ayton

“Sometimes it’s just tough to get a win.” — Landry Shamet

Key Stat


Points-per-game since the calendar turned to 2023 for the Phoenix Suns. They’ve yet to top 100 points in 4 games.

Injury Status Report

Deandre Ayton (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE

Chris Paul (hip) is QUESTIONABLE

Devin Booker (groin soreness) is OUT

Cameron Payne (right foot sprain) is OUT

Cameron Johnson (right meniscus) is OUT

Jae Crowder (trade this dude already) is NOT WITH TEAM

This Week in Suns History

January 9, 1990

KJ vs. Magic.

In the late-80’s and early 90’s, it was quite the battle. Built completely different, both were masters of seeing the court, setting their teammates up for success, and scoring in their own right. Magic facilitated Showtime. KJ took the Suns out of the grasps of a scandal and into the national spotlight.

1991 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

On January 9, 1990 the two met for a regular season matchup. What appeared to be a simple game between the .500 Suns and 23-7 Los Angeles Lakers ended up being a turning point in the season for Phoenix. And a historical night for Magic.

The Suns were led by the 34 points of Kevin Johnson and his 15 assists. Tom Chambers added 34 as well. Magic Johnson was second on his team in scoring as he had 24 that night (one less that teammate James Worthy’s 25). But it was his career-high 24 assists that dazzled.

The Suns defeated the Lakers 121-118, and it took overtime to do so.

It was the game that got the Suns over the hump and above .500. Phoenix win win 10 consecutive games following their battle with the Lakers, the first time is the Suns’ history that they won 10 straight. After starting 14-14, the team would finish the season 40-14. They would beat the Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals 4-1, but lose to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western conference Finals 4-2.

Suns Trivia

January 9, 1990 started the first 10-game winning streak in Suns history. How many times have they won 10+ games?

12 times.

They’ve won 10 games three times, 11 games five times, 14 games once, 15 games once, 17 games once, and 18 games once.

Upcoming Games

Tuesday, January 10 — Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors

Wednesday, January 11 — Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets

Friday, January 13 — Phoenix Suns @ Minnesota Timberwolves

It’s not getting any easier, is it? After a quick two-game homestand, the Suns are back on the road for a four-game road trip.

It starts in Golden State against the 20-20 Warriors. That’s right, GSW is going through it, too. Since Stephen Curry – who was averaging 30 points a game – went down, the team is 6-5. Without Steph they are shooting 45.7% from the field (23rd), 35.7% from deep (19th), and are -49 (26th).

That being said, Klay Thompson has been gaining confidence, averaging 26 points in Steph’s absence. This includes a 54-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks.

After the game in San Francisco, the Suns play against the Denver Nuggets. The next night. Talk about a scheduled loss, the Suns should simply empty their bench and rest their start– oh. We have no bench. The bench is the starters. Uh oh.

The Nuggets are the best in the west, and with Nikola Jokic playing basketball like Neo in the Matrix, it’s no wonder why. The Joker is averaging 25.3 points (on 61.3/36.8/81.6 splits), 10.8 rebounds, and 9.5 assists.

Then there are his advanced stats.

123.2 offensive rating (1st). 41.1 assist percentage (4th). 21.0 PIE rating (Player Impact Estimate). He does all of this on a 27.5 usage rate (34th in the league). He doesn’t have to demand the ball to impact the game. The way he sees the floor and the way he manipulates the defense. It’s elite.

Denver is 5-2 since defeating the Suns on Christmas Day. They lead the league with 40.1 3PT%. They have the 2nd best offense rating (114.9). Their fans will not forget the beating they took at the hands of the Suns in the 2021 postseason. The Nuggets will feed off the anti-Suns-in-4 energy.

It’s then off to Minnesota for a date with the Timberwolves on Friday the 13th. Oooooo. Aaaaah.

The 20-21 Wolves have been without Karl-Anthony Towns since November 29, when the team was 10-11. They’ve continued their up-and-down ways, going 10-10 without KAT.

Ayton has the task of playing against Rudy Gobert. Here is how Gobert has played with and without KAT this season:

  • With KAT: 13.8 points, 64 FG%, 12.4 rebounds, 105.1 OFFRTG, 107.6 DEF RTG
  • Without KAT: 14 points, 72 FG%, 11.4 rebounds, 110.14 OFFRTG, 111.4 DEFRTG

In his career, Gobert has averaged 17.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks against Ayton. Ayton has averaged 13.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks against Gobert. My point? Every time the Suns play the Timberwolves we have to hear the “DA for KAT” comments. We’ll hear them again during this game. Minnesota appears to play better without the Towns/Gobert combo. Ayton struggles against Gobert. a+b=c.

Weekly Prediction: 0-3

43% of Bright Siders voted that the Suns would go 1-3 in Week 12. Only 12% thought we’d exit the week without a win. Those 10 voters were correct.

I’m sad. I’m lost. I don’t believe the Suns can get out of this tailspin. I need Tinkerbell to give me motivation to believe, but at this point I don’t think the Suns can beat anyone. Even the Timberwolves.

Golden State, while 20-20 on the year, is 17-4 at home. They’re 3-16 on the road. Phoenix plays them at home. Denver is a machine right now, much like the Suns last year. And the Wolves? It’s Friday the 13th. Who knows?


Week 13. What will the Suns record be?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    (2 votes)
  • 43%
    (28 votes)
  • 51%
    (33 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

We’re in the dark days, once again.

What is encouraging is that, despite the horrid play by the Suns, they still find themselves in 8th place in the Western Conference. The west is still open. The road ahead is tough. But as Harvey Dent once said, “The night is darkest just before the dawn”.

We have to maintain hope. We have to understand the flaws and hope that Monty Williams and crew can make the correct adjustments. We have to believe that this is the valley for the Valley and that a peak lies ahead.

We have to.

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