The Phoenix Suns gave us an appetizer of what’s to come with their 46-point outburst in the opening quarter against the Pistons yesterday afternoon.
Surrounding three elite scorers with high-IQ snipers from deep will form an offense that truly has a chance to be generational. I’ve said it on my Locked On Suns podcast several times this offseason, but I believe this Suns’ offense could be one of the best of all time. That same notion goes for three-point shooting, as they figure to be among the elite, especially when it comes to their efficiency from deep.
In Sunday’s win over Detroit, Phoenix shot 14-for-37 (37.8%) on three-point attempts. I would expect their three-point attempts total to climb to the ~38-40 range on average, which would be up from their 32.6 a season ago. Only four teams shot 40 or more per game last season. It’s not so much about the volume, but rather the efficiency that will matter and make the most impact.
To set the table, last year the Suns finished 7th in the NBA in three-point percentage at 37.4 on 32.6 attempts per game, which ranked 17th.
In a system where pushing the tempo will be encouraged along with the gravity that Durant, Booker, and Beal draw individually... the open looks will come in abundance. Not only for those three, but for Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, and Yuta Watanabe.
First off, corner threes are going to be vital for this Suns team as the head of their snake (whoever it may be of the Big 3) will be operating up top. The attention in whatever actions unfold on the top of the perimeter will lead to several wide-open corner looks. Defenses will have to pick their poison when it comes to sending help.
Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal — I expect this trio to have a domino effect on one another, generating clean looks on a frequent basis. Durant has played in similar situations, but for Booker and Beal specifically, they will be in heaven. Booker already got a dose of it (playing alongside KD) in the playoffs and we saw how that opened things up for him. Now, insert Bradley Beal into the equation and that further enhances the shot quality for them both.
The efficiency bump will likely hit across the board for all three, provided they stay healthy.
Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Yuta Watanabe — This group off the bench will provide three floor spacers that should be shooting at or near 40% from deep with the looks they figure to accumulate. That’s six of your key rotation pieces right off the bat that could be classified as a knockdown shooter.
This group in particular should FEAST on the open looks in the corners that will be generated.
Yuta Watanabe’s first shot as a member of the Phoenix Suns.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) October 8, 2023
It’s unfortunate that Damion Lee suffered a serious injury because he was among the elite last season from distance. Keita Bates-Diop doesn’t have a large enough sample size to be thrown into this group, but if he can build off his strong shooting season last year, he will be right there. The corner threes are a strength for him, and he knocked one down yesterday with confidence in an otherwise forgetful debut.
Jusuf Nurkic, Drew Eubanks, Chimezie Metu — While none of these guys classify as “snipers” they can shoot the open shot if necessary. Nurkic knocked down threes at a 36% clip last season, attempting 2.3 per game. His ability to knock down open looks and pass should help amplify the spacing offensively.
Drew Eubanks attempted just 18 threes last season, hitting 7 of them which was good for just under 39%. It is a small sample size and he hasn’t shot it a ton in his NBA career, but if wide open he won’t shy away. Chimezie Metu hit a pair of consecutive triples yesterday in transition as well, and like Eubanks, he does not have a track record of shooting a ton, but is capable.
Question Marks — Josh Okogie, Nassir Little, Jordan Goodwin, Bol Bol, Saben Lee, Ish Wainright, Keon Johnson all fall under the category of non-shooters at this point. That’s not to say they are all hopeless by any means, but if defenses are picking between on of the first two groups to take an open shot or anyone in this group... the preference is for the latter.
- 38.7 attempts per game as a team
- 38.9% from three as a team
I predict these two categories will both rank in the top 5, and for them to be the only team with this combination of volume and efficiency.