Week 9 of the NBA season was a rough one in the world of the Phoenix Suns. For us here at the Suns Stock Exchange, who are constantly monitoring the market relative to how aspects of the Suns are performing and attempting to determine whether to be bear-ish or bull-ish, we are trying to find the good. We are attempting to go through countless metrics to find what Suns stocks are trending upwards. But like the 2009 song by Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne, the majority of stocks are down.
Phoenix did not make it easy this past week. The team went 0-2, losing to the struggling Portland Trail Blazers and a fully healthy Sacramento Kings. They are now 14-14 on the season. Just as you predicted, after 28 games of the season, the Suns are a .500 team and in 10th place in the Western Conference. It’s not pretty and stocks are plummeting across the board.
What compounds the issue is the Suns do not have many outs. There is no quick fix, there is no magical formula that James Jones can piece together to create winning basketball in Phoenix. It must come from within and it starts with the players who are currently rostered with the team and their desire to change what is broken.
In this week’s edition of the Suns Stock Exchange, we are cautiously sipping our hot chocolate and looking around for something to spike it with. Oooo! Dekuyper Peppermint Schnapps!
Phoenix Suns Coaching: Stock ↓
This is probably the most talked about conversation this week on Suns’ message boards. Who is to blame? When expectations aren’t exceeded, and many times when they’re not even met, it is somebody’s fault. You cannot work through issues it appears, as people want the quick fix and to go around them. And the quick fix in the eyes of numerous Suns fans to exterminate the entire coaching staff.
Can we please just fire Vogel? Gordon has been in the league for 15 years and I can't recall any other time he's called out coaching... They've thrown in the towel on Vogel. @Mishbia15— Melissa (@arizona_melissa) December 23, 2023
Don’t get me wrong, the coaching staff has its issues. There is a reason why their stock is down. Way down. The sheer lack of adjustments seems to be at the top of my list as to why their stock is down. I thought Monty Williams was coaching in Detroit, not Phoenix.
There is no progression at this point of the season, there is no learning, there is no meshing. Through the first 20 games of the season, you could point to a couple of different factors that were negating success. Health was the primary, which created inconsistent rotations, and players not having enough time on the court with each other to learn each other‘s rhythms and instincts.
We are 28 games into the season at this point. That’s a third of the way.
The health issues? Every team has them. At this point of the season, there needs to be progression. There needs to be strategic deployment of offensive and defensive strategies. It is not as if the coaches are only talking to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant about how to be successful and what their expectations of offense and defense are. They coach the entire team.
But the whole team isn’t executing.
There’s a lack of energy and effort with the Suns that makes what is occurring at this point of the season so depressing. That starts with coaching. It starts with how they motivate their team, how they prepare them, and how they utilize practices to get better. At this point, the team just seems to be getting worse.
Udoka Azubuike: Stock ↑
He may be a player on a two-way contract, but he was one of the lone bright spots that we witnessed this week. The 6’10” center from Kansas certainly has his limitations as a player. He’s large in charge, which means he is not quick and not fast. But he sure rebound the crap out of the ball.
Jusuf Nurkic has been a stabilizing force in the Suns starting lineup this season as he started the first 27 games of the season for Phoenix. But he was out on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings, which opened the door for Drew Eubanks to get the start and Udoka Azubuike to get some playing time off the bench.
Like Santa Claus tonight, he delivered. Doke played 22 minutes on Friday, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Is it sustainable? Probably not. No one who comes off the bench for the Suns right now is consistently sustainable, which is a problem in and of itself. What we witnessed from Udoka, however, is a positive sign. This team needs physicality and rebounding when Jusuf Nurkic isn’t playing. Drew Eubanks has been a quality backup big, but if you want to add even more size and punish opposing teams on the glass, Doke appears to by a playable option.
Three-Point Shooting: Stock ↓
Where the heck did the three-point shooting go?! It is astounding that, when you have a team that rosters Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, eric Gordon, and Grayson Allen, a team could go as ice cold over a two-game span as they just did. Week 9 was disastrous from beyond the arc for Phoenix. The team hit 10 of their 48 threes this past week. 20.8%!!!
The Suns bench combined for 1-of-19 shooting from deep in Week 9. That’s a cool 5.2% from range.
The Suns have made 17 three-pointers in their last three games.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) December 23, 2023
It is the least amount of three-pointers made in a three-game stretch by any team this season.
The entire team is in the Shamet Zone right now as they lack confidence from deep and the ability to hit anything outside of 23 feet. The bench was 21-of-57 overall on the week (36.8%), which could be an entire “stock down” piece itself.
The Suns must find a way to dial it in from range. With all of the other issues they have going on right now, shooting should not be listed. Too many quality scorers exist on this roster for three-point shooting to become an issue. For if it does? Toast. The Suns are toast.
Whew. That was a rough one. Week 9 is in the past, and hopefully it doesn’t visit us in the middle of the night to remind us to pay Bob Cratchit more money.