“Spacing” has been a hot word for the Phoenix Suns all off-season.
Giving their big three as much space to work with, while also forcing opponents to cover as much ground in rotation and recovery, is the objective. In that, it truly feels like the Suns addressed those entities of their offensive process.
Very quietly, the most efficient corner three-point shooting team was the Phoenix Suns in 2022-23. They knocked down 42% of their 9.76 corner three-point attempts per game.
That number took on greater importance following their trade for Kevin Durant.
"The Suns have 39 attempts from the corners in the last two games. 20 at Chicago (with eight makes), then 19 at Dallas (with five makes) registers as their two highest volume of corner three-point attempt games on the season."— Stephen PridGeon ☯️ (@StayTrueSDot3) March 7, 2023
Spoke on the new emphasis on corner 3's relative to… https://t.co/7bkgZ2L8rf
It’s an entity within the shot profile shift that I highlighted before his first game as a Sun, and in his first two games on the floor. That number, however, would see a significant drop off in efficiency and effectiveness in the postseason.
At its peak, the Suns saw Torrey Craig shoot 8-for-11 from the corners in their first three games against the Clippers provided them with making the corner a pressure point for their offense,
We talked about the shot profile evolving around Durant & the importance corner 3's would take on— Stephen PridGeon ☯️ (@StayTrueSDot3) April 19, 2023
Mentioned on our last @TheValleyPHX ep., part of Monty's decision on Craig starting (though I was pro-JO) was his corner 3p%
RS: 44.3% (career-best, on best rate)
PO: 71.4% https://t.co/jNNx1zApBP pic.twitter.com/odu7OWlZno
Notice in the video above, just how those shots were generated, and the extra attention given in the gaps of help for opposing defenses.
The inevitable regression to the mean came, however, and he’d go 1-for-7 the rest of the playoffs, severely impacting the effectiveness of their offense from deep. The Suns would finish the playoffs 11th in three-point field goal percentage. Not ideal.
Finding pieces that’ll address just that, in dependability and sustainability, was greatly important.
The game against Dallas in early March last season, which was highlighted in the link provided above, is the exact template for this rendition. Having the ability to toggle through multiple options to provide the gamely lift needed for specific things, is as important as anything.
Now, that issue of inconsistency that was seen from the Okogie/Craig/Wainwright group certainly shouldn’t be an issue.
Independent of the big three, the Suns now have these players to toggle through at those spots within the profile:
- Eric Gordon (45.2%)
- Yuta Watanabe (53.2%)
- Nassir Little (39.1%)
- Keita Bates-Diop (37.1%)
- Grayson Allen (46.9%)
This five-man group alone shot 45% from the corners last season, collectively. Grayson Allen (82) and Yuta Watanabe (72) had the most attempts, so to see that those two match the highest volume with the highest percentages of this group as well, makes for some very promising potential.
Of note last season, if you look at the omitted three’s efficiency from the corners:
- Devin Booker (36.7%) *4-for-5 in the playoffs
- Kevin Durant (55.6%) *5-for-6 as a Sun in the regular season, 2-for-10 in the postseason
- Bradley Beal (37.7%) *did so on 53 attempts last season
This preseason, the Suns are already showing 13-for-24 (54.2%).
It seems as though the “coffin corner” will continue to serve as an area within their shot profile where they can put an end to opposing team runs, and games, with the rates of success. Teams will often elect to intentionally pull help away from the corners, or, within multiplayer rotations, or scrambling, the corner will be the pocket momentarily unoccupied.
Opportunity matched with the multiple contexts in which the Suns will be able to facilitate to the corners — creating chaos and dynamic, long-distance closeouts — for a defense to cover will be an entity of their overall dynamic that makes them elite offensively.