What We’ve Learnt Through Two Weeks
The 2016/17 NBA Season is well underway and it’s time to evaluate how our Suns have looked through their first two weeks. Currently sitting at 2-5, good for twelfth in the Western Conference, however they could easily be higher, suffering close losses in three of their five. It’s easy to spout all the cliches about a NBA season “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”, “It’s a roller coaster full of ups and downs”, “It’s a long road full of twists and turns”, however that’s not going to stop me from putting the team under the microscope. Here are some of the good and bad things we’ve learnt through the Suns first two weeks.
Good: Devin Booker + T.J Warren = BUCKETS
Prior to this years draft, the Suns had looked for offence first in their previous two trips to the draft lottery. In 2014 they took the old-school scoring forward T.J Warren out of NC State with pick 14, fresh off a sophomore season where he led the ACC in scoring. The following year, the Suns took Kentucky freshman Devin Booker with the 13th pick, hoping to sure up the injury riddled backcourt of Knight and Bledsoe. Warren’s first two years in the league had been derailed by injury, while Booker was the surprise of the year in 2015/16. Now that both are healthy, they look to be a duo to build around for years to come. The two young stars are currently averaging a combined 44.7 points a game, which accounts for over 40 percent of the teams total points. Booker has looked fantastic, spotting up and spreading the floor, and working his way inside with spectacular footwork. The constant threat of Booker’s range has also opened things up for T.J Warren, as he looks like he was pulled straight out of the 1980’s with his wide array of floaters, mid range shots, and layups. While the defence has a long way to go with these two, the potential is there for these two to be one of the best wing combo’s in the league.
Bad: Alex Len needs to step up
While the suns lottery picks in 2014 and 2015 are thriving this season, the number five pick from 2013, Alex Len, is struggling to make an impact. Len showed signs in the preseason, displaying a new mid range shot, and looking stronger on the boards, but he has once again lost his staring job to Tyson Chandler, and is playing the fewest minutes a game since his rookie season. Len has just not separated himself as a must start player, which he needs to do if he wants to be paid this coming summer, as this is the last year of his rookie contract. I’ve always been a Len believer, however with the Centre position as stacked as it has been in the last five years, and with a lot of very promising big-men available in the upcoming draft, Len needs to make an impact, and quickly, if he wants to stay a Sun.
Good: Brandon Knight as a 6th man works
Brandon Knight is a very good basketball player. It is very handy to have such a good player available to run your team after the starters go to the bench. The Suns love running the three guard rotation with Knight, Booker, and Bledsoe, and it has worked to an extent. There is always a capable pick and roll guard who can get to the rim and shoot on the court, which is in tern making life easier for players like T.J Warren, Jared Dudley, and Marquese Chriss, to get good shots. Knight looks comfortable in his new roll, as he’s been able to really attack the rim against opposition bench units. His shooting hasn’t been fantastic so far, but that will come as he settles more into a game plan that could very well have him hoisting the 6th Man of the Year Trophy.
Bad: Everything even remotely related to defence
One of the oldest sayings in sport in “Defence wins championships”. If that is truly the case, the Suns have maybe the longest way to go out of any team in the league to contention. The Suns currently sit dead last in points allowed per game, allowing 113.3 points. They sit in the bottom ten in terms of defensive rating, and in opponent shooting at the rim. This should not exactly come as a big surprise, the Suns ranked in the bottom five in both defensive rating and points allowed per game last year, and it’s really a result of having next to no defensive standouts on the roster. Bledsoe is not the defensive player he use to be, and the same can be said for Tyson Chandler and P.J Tucker. Some defensive talent needs to come into the team soon, or else this season could be lost quickly.
Those are my first impressions of the new season for the Suns, was there anything big things you think I missed? Let me know in the comments below.