Week 11 saw the Phoenix Suns go 2-2 as they closed out their six-game homestand 4-2. Wins against the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat, losses against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies. Phoenix leaves Week 11 with a 19-17 record dropping into the 9th seed in the Western Conference.
How did they get there? How is a team with the firepower that they possess only 11-11 at home? There are plenty of hurdles that lie ahead and plenty of road games. The Suns Stock Exchange will give you some barometer as to why.
Bol Bol: Stock ↑
It’s unfortunate that Bol Bol rolled his ankle and found himself on the injury report because he put together a solid week's worth of effort. Enough, dare I say, to raise his stock? This is stock that, in the eyes of the causal fan, was already up.
Staring up at Bol, he appears to have everything you need to be a fine NBA player. Height. Length. Agility. Yet thus far this season, we haven't seen any of those attributes align with other basketball skills the casual fan might not be looking for. Like IQ.
In Week 11, however, Frank Vogel gave Bol Bol some runway with Kevin Durant sidelined, and to his credit, Bol capitalized.
Scoring 9.7 points on 80% shooting and grabbing 5.7 rebounds, it was his best week yet as a member of the Suns. Vogel experimented with utilizing him at the power forward position, pairing him with Drew Eubanks, and he appeared to excel in the role.
We need to see more of this from Bol if we want to believe it, but for what it was in Week 11, it played nicely for his stock.
The Fourth Quarter. Still: Stock ↓
36 games into the season and you’d think that a team with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal would know how to close. Alas, they cannot. After blowing an 11-point Q4 lead against a Grizzlies team without Ja Morant, Steven Adamas, and Brandon Clarke, Phoenix needs to recognize that something is broken in the fourth.
Through 36 games, the Suns ranks in Q4:— John Voita (@DarthVoita) January 8, 2024
42.6 FG% (29th)
29.6 3PT% (30th)
24.6 PTS (30th)
5.1 AST (29th)
3.8 TO (27th)
-114 +/- (30th)
It starts as Frank Vogel leaves just one of his Big Three on the floor to start the quarter. Whether it is Booker or Beal, whoever is out there with them can’t hit a shot and can’t defend. It appears that opposing teams have scouted Phoenix and understand that, if they miss a shot at the front end of the fourth quarter, a layup is yours for the taking if you’re willing to go get it.
Transition defense dissipates, perimeter defense is nonexistent, and the Suns become one of the worst teams in the NBA for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. Sometimes it’s too late when order is restored by the reinsertion of the other two members of the Big Three.
Perhaps the solution is to focus on starting the fourth with two of the Big Three present, if even for the first couple of minutes. Stabilize it. Or its stock will continue to fall.
American Sniper: Grayson Allen: Stock ↑
GA had a stellar Week 11 as he scored the third most points on the team behind Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The total? 69. Giggity. For a guy who was already a top-five three-point shooter in the league percentage-wise, he shot 17-of-31 from beyond the arc and Week 11. That is a cool 54.8%.
The most impressive part of Grayson Allen's game is his ability to relocate + position himself off the ball.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) January 8, 2024
That combined with the gravity from the Suns' stars... it's no coincidence as to why he's seemingly always wide open.
The spacing he receives due to the return of Bradley Beal is expected. When you have both Booker and Beal present on the court, defenders will naturally gravitate toward them in an effort to negate their effectiveness on offense. What does that do? It creates more space around Allen than the International Space Station has.
Like Josh Okogie last season, Allen has plenty of opportunities to shoot three-pointers with no one around him. Unlike a JO last season, Allen is knocking them down. He set a personal best with nine made three-pointers against the Miami Heat on Friday night, tying a Suns record for most three-pointers made in a single game.
He continues to be an ideal fit for the Suns and we shouldn’t be surprised if his name is added to the list of three-point contest participants on All-Star weekend in mid-February.
When Bol Bol is the bright spot of your week, respectfully, there are some opportunities for the team. 2-2 doesn’t sound nearly as good as 3-1, and that is where Phoenix should have landed for the week. They closed their final quarter at home in putrid fashion, so the taste left in our mouth after a 4-1 homestand that could’ve been 5-1 is salty.
Still, the team is getting healthy and learning to play together and we witnessed that throughout the week. The hope is the development continues to equate to wins, as Pheonix desperately needs to begin climbing in the standings. It’ll be the All-Star week before you know it.