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Saturday, December 8, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 22. Phoenix Suns

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  7-9,  fourth place Pacific Division

15
This Month:
22
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 100.5 (9th)
Points Allowed: 103.3 (30th)
Team FG%: .448 (13th)
Opponent’s FG%: .476 (28th)
Rebounds per game: 41.9 (13th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 42.3 (14th)
Turnovers per game: 13.4 (4th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 15.4 (13th)

Individual Statistical Leaders
  • Scoring (ppg): Goran Dragic (16.0)
  • Rebounds per game:  Marcin Gortat (9.1)
  • Minutes per game: Goran Dragic (33.1)
  • Assists per game: Goran Dragic (7.1)
  • Steals per game: Goran Dragic (2.1)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Marcin Gortat (2.4)


Worst Player of the Month:  Michael Beasley



This was supposed to be the season where Michael Beasley was supposed to prove all his doubters and naysayers wrong.  He had already been branded by many as a draft day bust and his arrival in Phoenix was meant to silence all of that negativity.  Unfortunately that has not happened—in fact, the complete opposite has occurred as Beasley has been producing far less than Phoenix fans have anticipated.  Thus far, Beasley has just averaged 12 points per game shooting .390 from the field and that is not the worst of it.  What shines most is not his lackluster performance offensively, but his even poorer efforts on the boards—as a starting forward standing at 6’10” and 240lbs, Beasley has been just averaging 4.5 rebounds per game so far in November.  Although it is still early in the season, Beasley is becoming dangerously close to becoming a failure if he does not start stepping his game up a notch. 

First Player of the Month: Goran Dragic



In his return to Phoenix, Goran Dragic has proven to be quite a solid successor to the departed Steve Nash leading his team scoring, assists, minutes, and steals per game.   Dragic already ranks eleventh in the league in assists to turnover ratio with an average of 3.06 showing his ability thus far of not only facilitating the offense and protecting the ball at the same time.  Scoring wise, Dragic has come up big on many occasions scoring in double figures in every game, eight games scoring 15 or more points and averaging close to 19 points per game in the Suns’ wins in November.   If he keeps up his solid play, Dragic may be in the running for a Western Conference All Star selection along with the Most Improved Player Award by season’s end.   As with his predecessor before him, Dragic was drafted by the Suns, shipped away, then returned to become the team’s franchise player once again. 

Analysis:

Although they finished November with a 7-9 record, the Phoenix Suns are a house of cards on the verge of collapsing with the slightest breeze.  They currently own the worse defense in the league as they rank near the bottom in points against and field goals allowed and despite the solid play of Steve Nash’s replacement, Goran Dragic, their offense is not nearly as efficient as it once was.  The way that the Suns have been routinely outshot, out-rebounded, and outscored thus far in this early season, Phoenix’s season looks that it will be already over before it has really started.  The Suns allowed more than 100 points in eleven of their seventeen games in November; surprisingly, however, Suns did not do that bad as they were 4-7 when they allowed their opponents to reach the century mark while being 3-2 in games decided by less than 100 points.  Unfortunately, if anyone does not see that there is a problem in the land of the rising Sun, they have to be delusional because it is obvious that this season is a disaster waiting to happen.

What’s worst about all of this is that the Suns have no excuse for playing such terrible defense because they have a team of young, quick and athletic players in the backcourt along with a rather strong and physical front court.   They should be able to at least hold their opponents under the close to .500 that they have allowed them to shoot; however, as with all Phoenix Suns teams, defense is rarely on the menu.  It does not help when despite the wealth of size, talent, and athleticism Phoenix supposedly boasts, that their opponents not only shoot at a far higher and more efficient clip than they do, but they allow them to be outrebounded as well by the same teams.  If the Suns were shorthanded due to injuries, that would give them some justification of their overall poor play on both ends of the floor; unfortunately, however, that is not the case as all of the team’s key players have played every game thus far in this early season and have yet to miss a game due to injury.  So what or whom can be blamed for this debacle which is heading on its way to becoming a complete disaster?

It all boils down to coaching:  Alvin Gentry has done a terrible job in utilizing the physical gifts and talents of his roster resulting in the poor product that Suns have on the floor today.  To start off, he put Michael Beasley, a player who has had a reputation of getting what he wants around the basket in a position where his abilities and talents cannot be utilized whatsoever.  At the small forward position, Beasley’s strengths as a back to the basket player are all but negated because he’s forced to lurk around the perimeter where he is less than effective.  Add the fact that with his size and limited motion, Beasley is just too slow to keep up with the quicker swing men in the league on the defensive end and is not able to pass them on the offensively end either.  Essentially, Gentry has thus far set up a player that Phoenix had so much hope for to fail miserably by putting him in a position where he cannot be successful.

Add the fact that Gentry has been trying to put a square peg in a circular hole by trying to play an uptempo game with slow and lumbering players.  The Phoenix Suns front office acquired Wesley Johnson, a player who struggled to find a place in the Minnesota Timberwolves, because it believed that his ability to run the floor would mesh with the team’s uptempo style of play; however, he has yet to be used in any capacity as he has spent most of the season pining on the bench.  Similar to Beasley, Johnson was anticipated to play a major role in the Suns’ return to respectability post Steve Nash, but he has been essentially shelved by his coach in favor for older, slower and less athletic players.  And instead of a fast paced, free flowing offense based on ball movement that Phoenix fans have been accustomed to, it has become a slower more deliberate one that appears to favor one on one play that passing and ball movement.

When a team has a big strong player such as the 6’ 11” Markieff Morris lurking outside jacking up threes instead of having his back to the basket, then you know that they is something is wrong with a team’s offense.  Many blame poor Goran Dragic for the stagnation of the Suns’ offense, but it is not his fault as he is forced to play alongside slower and less athletic players.  Again, it has to do with Gentry’s poor use of his roster which has resulted in the Suns’ decline offensively and its rather embarrassing performance on the defensive end.  It is so obvious to anyone who watches a Suns game that Gentry needs to go—his sets are simply not working and unless Phoenix makes a change soon, there will be nowhere else for this team to go but down.  Already they have started December losing three games in a row and it does not seem to be getting any betteras they slip further out of the standings