For the first time in the 2023-24 season, the Phoenix Suns have put together three consecutive wins. That, ladies, and gentlemen, is what we call a winning streak! It’s time to take off your clothes and head down to the quad through the gymnasium because the Suns are starting to streak, and you don’t want to miss out.
It’s no surprise that the stabilization has occurred with the return of Devin Booker to the starting lineup. While he might not be classified as a traditional point guard, his ability to play make, coupled with his floor vision and understanding of Kevin Young’s offense, has stabilized the Suns’ offensive attack.
The defense? It is definitely still a work in progress.
One of their victories came against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team at the upper echelon of the Western Conference. The other two? One was a high-scoring win in regulation, and the other was a double overtime victory, both against the Utah Jazz.
What is driving their success? Let’s look deeper into five statistics that have occurred during their last three games.
134.7 points (1st)
Devin Booker’s reinsertion into the starting lineup, coupled with Frank Vogel’s decision to start both Greyson Allen and Eric Gordon alongside him, has equated to a team that is fulfilling the offensive destiny and expectations that existed prior to the start of the season. We expected a high-octane offense with Booker, Durant, and Beal, and we have received it. Even without Beal.
Over their last three games, Phoenix is shooting 53.5% from the field, which is the third-best field goal percentage in that timeframe. They are second in three-point shooting, hitting 48.6% of their super shots.
Kevin Durant has been a thorn in the side of opposing defense during this streak, averaging a league-best 36 points on 62.5/63.2/100 splits. Read that stat again.
This man should be leading all MVP conversations pic.twitter.com/GrdVNbzjpT— Lando ☀️ (@PHXSuns_OD) November 20, 2023
Durant is not doing it alone, however. His 36 points per game leaves 98.7 points scored by his fellow teammates. Booker is averaging 27, Gordon is averaging 16.3, and Allen is averaging 12.7.
The Suns’ defense has been suspect, however. While they are allowing the opposition to shoot 45.5% from the field – 9th best in the NBA – they’ve allowed 126.7 points, which is 2nd worst.
34.0 assists (1st)
When you’re scoring at such a high clip, there are two ways you’re doing it: via isolation basketball or as a result of ball movement. The Suns have had a decent mix of both over their past three games, but they are leading the league in assists over this timeframe. This is a direct correlation with Booker’s return.
Booker is averaging 9.3 assists per game since his return and has directed an offense that is looking to dissect defenses through the art of ball movement.
Sound On— Stephen PridGeon ☯️ (@StayTrueSDot3) November 19, 2023
Amidst (more) point guard discourse, Devin Booker put forth the best playmaking exhibition of his career
He compiled a career-best 15 assists + 37 assist points, with just 1 (non-passing) turnover
On his (continued) evolution in processing & feel, at the helm ⤵️: pic.twitter.com/zmFHud2E4K
The three-pointers that the Suns are hitting with insane efficiency are coming off of passes that find them wide-open for their shots. The difference between now and their first 10 games? They’re knocking them down. The majority of their three-point attempts at the start of the season were wide-open, but Phoenix simply was not hitting their shots with the same efficiency. In their first 10 games, the Suns shot 36.3% from three, 13th best in the league.
With veterans like Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon in the starting lineup, we’re starting to see those fall with more regularity, which has become a nightmare for opposing defenses. Do you blitz Booker and Durant? If you do, they are whipping the ball around and finding the open shooter. That open shooter is knocking down their shot.
12.0 turnovers (7th)
Turnovers have plagued Phoenix throughout the season as they attempt to develop chemistry and learn how to play together. The most annoying mistakes made by the team have been the ones where someone just throws the ball away because he thinks his teammate is rotating to that area.
In their first 10 games, the Suns averaged 16.8 turnovers, 3rd most in the league. As a result, they found themselves at 4-6. Devin Booker is back and, wouldn’t you know it? The turnovers have drastically fallen, and with it comes the victories.
There still is work to be done in this area. Phoenix is averaging 15.7 turnovers this season, which is 6th worst in the league. Chemistry will continue to develop and, with a healthy Booker, this number should drop. We hope.
The Suns play the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Will their winning streak continue? Will these trends of a high-octane offense, ball movement, and taking care of the ball continue? If they can, the can jump their streak to four games and an 8-6 record. We’ll found out tomorrow night!