It’s been hard to think of basketball as I navigate the loss of my friend. Seeing the outpouring of support reminds me that I am not alone in missing Dave. I know what he would say, making it not about him and reminding me of the responsibility we have to cover the team that we love.
So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll continue to pour my energy into these words, doing what Dave would’ve wanted me to do for you. And you know what? In the end, it helps me. We all need an outlet, whether it is a conversation with a close friend or a blog about the Suns. Putting thoughts and feelings into the ether is therapeutic.
Public service announcement over. Let’s look at Week 15 for the Suns, starting with how they performed:
- Week 15 Record: 3-1
- Week 15 OFFRTG: 127.5 (2nd)
- Week 15 DEFRTG: 114.5 (14th)
- Week 15 NETRTG: +13.0 (1st)
It was a week on the road, playing up and down the east coast. It started with a 118-105 win in South Beach as the Suns’ bench scored 48 points against the Miami Heat. Next stop was KD’s return against the Brooklyn Nets, which resulted in a 136-120 drubbing of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson’s team.
The Suns couldn’t get out of their own way in a 129-120 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, and in the nation’s capital against the Washington Wizards, Phoenix demolished Brad Beal’s former team as he put on a 43-point performance, his best of the year.
Most points in a game by a Sun this season:— Booker Muse (@DevinBookerMuse) February 4, 2024
62 — Booker
52 — Booker
46 — Booker
44 — Booker
43 — Durant, Beal
41 — Durant
40 — Durant (x2), Booker
What did we learn this week? Well, that is what the Suns Stock Exchange is for. Let’s have a glance at the Week 15 highs and lows. What worked and what didn’t? Let’s look at some arrows, shall we?
The Road Trip: Stock —
That was a long one.
Seven games away from home spanning 11 days. While they are good for bonding purposes, they are mentally fatiguing. The Suns walked away from the trip with a 4-3 record. I’ll take that as a positive trip. The majority of us believed that the team would go 5-2.
How do you view the 4-3?
I’ll look at it through the lens that the team won more games than they lost and are returning home with a healthy squad. Yes, it was a rough road trip for Bradley Beal’s beak, but outside of Damien Lee, the team is healthy.
5-2 would’ve been nice, but the reality is when you go on a long road trip, you just want to come back winning more games that you lost. It’s like a baseball series. If you’re on the road in Cincinnati for three games, just wanna win two of those. A sweep would be nice, but win more than you lose.
The Suns did that on this road trip. Did they leave some meat on the bone? Absolutely. But such as basketball.
The Suns’ Bench: Stock ↑
We’re continuing to monitor the bench production, especially leading into the trade deadline. It has been a challenge for the Suns this season, to get any consistent production from their second-team unit. In their first 14 weeks, the bench was 29th in points (27.2), 20th in field goal percentage (44.9%), 30th in three-point percentage (28.4%), and 23rd in total plus/minus (-51).
If you are wondering why the Suns are shopping for an athletic wing, look no further than those metrics. They need someone who can take pressure off of the delicate balance that is the starting unit.
Week 15 we witnessed a shift, however. Eric Gordon popped for 23 points off of the bench against the Heat and followed it up with 17 against the Nets. Josh Okogie put together back-to-back 11-point games.
That is what Phoenix needs. It isn’t a need for someone to come in and go nuclear every night, just consistent production. A Sixth Man, if you will. Even with Gordon serving in that role (when the starting unit is healthy) it has yet to happen on a consistent basis.
Week 15 was a good start in heading in the right direction.
The Suns bench in Week 15:— John Voita (@DarthVoita) February 5, 2024
33.5 PPG (15th)
62.1 FG% (1st)
44.7 3PT % (6th)
+8 total plus/minus pic.twitter.com/aIb3QpzbVd
Take Fouls: Stock ↓
This past week we witnessed the phantom take foul rule occur a couple of times, and both went not in the favor of the Suns. What is the point of this thing, eh? Let’s pull out the rule book and read it verbatim.
Away from-the-play fouls, which are defined in Rule 4, Section III(h) on page 18, shall be administered as follows:
A personal foul and team foul shall be assessed and one free throw attempt shall be awarded. The free throw may be attempted by any player in the game at the time the personal foul was committed.
If the foul occurs when the ball is inbounds, the offended team shall be awarded the ball on the sideline at the nearest point where play was interrupted but no nearer to the baseline than the free throw line extended.
If the foul occurs prior to the release on a throw-in, the offended team shall be awarded the ball at the original throw-in spot, with all privileges, if any, remaining.
Essentially, t is to negate opposing teams from prohibiting a fast break. You made a mistake? You turn the ball over? You can’t foul to stop the other team from scoring or you get penalized.
But the frequency in which it’s called has become comical to me. Much like the majority of NBA officiating, there is no consistency. Even when they review the play, there is no consistency. It is a great rule (in theory) and something that the NBA instituted for a reason. Watching Olympic basketball you see it called with regularity and it is effective in negating the act of fouling prior to a break.
We want more fastbreaks! We want exciting basketball! We want highlight dunks and alley-oops from mid court!
So you institute the rule. But you have to call it correctly. How many times do we see Devin Booker begin a fast break after creating a steal, is fouled, but they don’t call the take foul? Just annoys me. So yeah, they get the arrow down this week.
That’s all she wrote for Week 15 of the 2023-24 NBA season. An emotional one. A productive one. One in which we lost a legend. One in which the Suns gained direction. What will next week hold? You never know. Nobody owns tomorrow. Enjoy today. Appreciate today. Love those around you, give them a hug, and let them know how you feel.
It’s too short, isn’t it?