It might be only preseason, but you can’t help but get excited from what we’ve seen from the Phoenix Suns offense thus far. They’re scoring efficiently, pressing opposing defenses into challenging situations, and moving the ball with fluidity throughout their offense. All of that without a traditional point guard. Crazy, isn’t it?
The stats that they are starting to stack up are impressive. The number of 30+ point quarters thus far has been electric to consume. Six of their first fourteen, to be exact.
Through 3.5 preseason games, the Suns have had some high-scoring quarters.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) October 17, 2023
46 points Q1 vs. DET
40 points Q2 vs. POR
39 points Q2 @ POR
37 points Q1 @ POR
36 points Q1 vs. POR
34 points Q3 vs. DET
The catalyst for this offensive onslaught has been the BBD Trio of Booker, Beal, and Durant. They are efficient and versatile on offense, creating spacing and mismatches that opposing defenses are having a hard time trying to navigate. They’ve been getting out and pushing the ball, p
In doing so, their offensive ratings have been, well, down right offensive. Devin Booker last season had an offensive rating of 119.6. He’s at 146.6 right now in 53.4 minutes played. Pick your jaw up off the desk. It’s unsophisticated to leave it ajar.
Phoenix has 6 of the top 15 NBA leaders in Offensive Rating this preseason (min. 15 mpg, 2 gp)— Zona (@AZSportsZone) October 17, 2023
1. Devin Booker - 146.6
2. Kevin Durant - 143.9
5. Jusuf Nurkic - 132.7
7. Grayson Allen - 131.0
8. Bradley Beal - 131.0
14. Drew Eubanks - 126.6
Inspired by @KellanOlson
This is where I will pause.
I recognize that this is preseason. I recognize that the opposition in which they are facing has yet to truly be elite, or even average for that matter. I recognize that their highest scoring quarters are against teams that did not make the playoffs last year like the Detroit Pistons and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Noted. Recognized. Still impressive.
“Book drives to the rim,” Durant said following practice on Tuesday. “There’s gonna be guys coming over, same with Bradley, same with myself. On different areas of the floor, it’s gonna open up everything for everyone. You can’t guard all of us at once, especially when guys like Book can command a double team.”
No matter what decision you make, someone is going to either be open or have a clean look at the cylinder. The use of the bigs is something Frank Vogel eluded to following their win against Portland on Monday. If your shooters can draw defenders out to the perimeter, away from the basket, that too opens up wrinkles on the interior that Phoenix can exploit.
“Play fundamentally sound ball,” KD added, “don’t turn the ball over, rebound and we’ll be in solid shape on offense.”
The plus/minus fortifies exactly what Durant has observed. The trio is slicing and dicing defenses, and their gravity creates more spacing for each other.
It’s looked great in the preseason, but when the stakes rise, so too will the adjustments. Phoenix has freelanced much of their offense and been successful by getting out and running a la the Seven Seconds or Less Suns from days of yore. Frank Vogel will have to adjust to those adjustments when they present themselves.
ESPN’s Richard Jefferson did provide some insight on NBA Today relative to the point of attack and how Phoenix could continue to maximize their dynamic trio to generate more spacing.
What Jefferson pointed out is that Phoenix is initiating a tad bit too far outside right now. The spacing has worked against less-than-stellar talent, and stretching them is creating easy opportunities. When they begin to play real defensive talent, however, they will need to button up their approach in an effort to take advantage of the opposition and force them into decision making.
With one preseason game left, you can’t help but to be yearning inside for the minutes on the court in which the statistics will actually count. Where the stakes are high and opposing fan bases have to recognize that this offensive trio is something to respect. It will be the defensive side in which we will begin to truly learn who this team is. They have yet to face a high octane offense on the defensive end of the floor, so they’ve been permitted to get out and run at will.
Booker and Beal are not plus defenders, so if Phoenix’s strategy is to become a version of 7SOL, they have the firepower to do so. The question becomes whether or not they have the defensive stamina to do so as well.