The Phoenix Suns are one of the best teams in the NBA this year, and after losing in The Finals last season, they are on pace for another historic run. But what makes this Suns team, led by a 36-year-old point guard and a 25-year-old pure scorer, elite?
Put the Ball in the Basket
First, there’s the obvious statistic; they flat out score. The Suns shoot almost 50% from the floor, one of the best in the NBA. They don’t shoot the three nearly as much as some of the other teams in the modern NBA, but when they do, they hit it.
Pretty much all of their players who play significant minutes shoot threes except for a couple of their big guys, and they all shoot it above 33%. All of the big men on the suns shoot above 50% from the field, and even forward Mikal Bridges shoots just over 50% from the floor in about 35 minutes a game.
Phoenix shoots about 80% from the foul line, meaning their guards and forwards all shoot well above 80%, and their bigs are around 70%.
Beautiful Ball Movement
The Suns also move the ball quickly and efficiently. They are one of the faster-paced teams in the NBA and they make sharp passes to open shooters.
On top of their elite passing, they rarely turn the ball over for a team that passes as much as they do. Their assist/turnover ratio is among the best in the league.
The success with the ball movement likely stems from Chris Paul, who has been reborn in Phoenix. Paul has kept himself healthy, and although his shooting numbers are down, he’s back averaging about 10 assists a game.
But a great passer is nothing without his shooters, and the Suns are filled with them. Mikal Bridges as mentioned before can really fill it up, and Devin Booker is one of the best shooters in the NBA, scoring about 25 a game.
Cameron Johnson is a lights-out shooter off the bench, and Cameron Payne can give the Suns a spark as well. And on top of that, Jae Crowder and Landry Shamet are there to pick up the pieces when the main scorers aren’t on.
Feed The Man in the Middle
But if Paul only had guys on the perimeter to pass it to, the Suns wouldn’t be what they are. No, they have one of the most underrated and imposing big men in the NBA in Deandre Ayton, who’s a shoo-in for 15 and 10 a game.
In limited minutes, bench center JaVale McGee is actually incredibly efficient, and dominates second units across the league, grabbing at least 5 boards a game and scoring almost 10 points each contest.
All of that is their offense, but as the saying goes, defense wins championships. The Suns are at the top of the league in Defensive Rating and forced turnovers.
Paul averages almost 2 steals a game and most of the other players on the team all average about a steal a game. Chris Paul is the orchestrator, but they have some lengthy defenders who should be in the conversation for an all-defensive team including Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges.
Cameron Johnson isn’t a bad defender himself, and all these lengthy utility players can pretty much guard any player of any size, allowing Booker to rest on defense. They are able to switch on ball screens which is a play heavily relied on by most offenses, and top guards can’t go isolation because of Paul’s defensive reliability.
Phoenix Suns’ Future Aspirations
This team has everything it needs, and more. If they remain healthy going into the playoffs, they have the depth and the reliability, and now the experience to make a very long run once again, and maybe this time, come out on top.
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