The Phoenix Suns Early Issues

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LOS ANGELES, USA - NOVEMBER 06 : Devin Booker of Phoenix Suns gestures during a NBA game between Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA on November 06, 2016. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns are currently one of the worst teams in the NBA. The team has a mediocre record of 12-25 and are looking like they’re bound for another top 5 pick in this years upcoming NBA draft. The problems they have shown so far are easily fixable, but will take time.

The Phoenix Suns Early Issues 

Roster

The team obviously plans to develop young talent for the future, and with that they’ll need to get as much young prospects as they can. They currently have Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Alex Len, Tyler Ulis, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, and Alan Williams as their young prospects.

When looking at their lineup, the team still has some “win now” players. With the exception of Jared Dudley and Leandro Barbosa who were brought back to the desert to serve as mentors, there are still a couple or two players who just don’t fit with what the Suns are planning.

Old Guy on a Young Team

The first player on that lineup that screams “win now” is Tyson Chandler. Chandler was brought in the summer of 2015 to try and convince then free agent LaMarcus Aldridge to come and play in Phoenix. The plan failed and now they’re left with a 34-year-old center who is getting paid $39 million for three more years. The bright side is that he is currently averaging 11.6 RPG, the third highest in his 16-year career. He is also shooting 68.5% from the field, which is the highest percentage he has shot since 2012.

All-star Point Guard in a Developing Core

The next odd man out is their starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe has been terrific so far this season, averaging 20.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.0 RPG, and 1.5 SPG, numbers that can be considered borderline all-star. The problem is exactly that; Bledsoe is in his prime right now when some of his supporting cast are still learning the curve of the NBA. His prime won’t last as long as five more years because of his style of play, which relies heavily on athleticism. Bledsoe is still under contract until the summer of 2019 when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Of course, it is possible that he takes a backseat when he starts his inevitable decline.

Serviceable player Turned Into a Dreadful Sixth-man

The last “win now” guy they have is Brandon Knight. Knight was traded to the Suns back in the middle of the 2014-2015 season. Last year in his first full season, Knight showed promise as he averaged almost 20 PPG and almost 5 APG. This season has been different though; with the emergence of Booker, Knight had to take the backseat and sit on the bench. And recently, he has received inconsistent playing time.

When head coach Earl Watson was asked about Knight’s playing time he said “ball pressure is most important at that position. We feel like Tyler Ulis gives us that every time we put him on the court. It’s not scoring points, it’s not — you have 20 points and be efficient or offensively — it’s can you create a presence defensively. When you talk about building a culture, you go through your first season and you identify the players who are going to commit to the mindset or the physical sacrifice of defensively building that culture.”

With the trade deadline nearing, Knight has been the subject of multiple trade rumors. So far Knight has been averaging 12.6 PPG and 2.6 APG, the lowest in his entire career.

The next one is their on-court issues.

Too Many Scorers, Too Little Defense

The Suns are in the top 15 in Points Per Game, scoring at a scorching 105.6 PPG. They’re also 17th in Free Throw Percentage, as they are currently shooting 76.5% from the line. Rebounding is not an issue for them either, as they are 6th in the league averaging 45.3 RPG.

Even though they score a lot, the problem is that their opponents score more.  They are second to the Brooklyn Nets in terms of opponent scoring. They allow 111.7 PPG and the alarming part is their three-point defense; they’re the second worst behind the Dallas Mavericks as their opponents shoot an average of 38% from deep.

The Suns are also giving up the most free throw attempts per game at 28.6 per game. This shows how inexperienced this team is.

Talented Guards, So Many Errors

It’s no secret that the Suns’ best players are all found in their backcourt. Bledsoe and Booker lead the team in scoring respectively at 20.1 PPG and 19.0 PPG.

The problem may be is that they score too much. The Suns are dead last in Assists Per Game as they only average 18.3. Comparing this to the league leading Warriors who averages 31.2 APG, the team is way behind in terms of moving the ball.

Another problem is their knack for turning the ball over. They are third in Turnovers Per Game at 16.1.

This can be associated with their three guards in rotation.  Bledsoe averages 3.1 TOV, Booker averages 2.7 TOV, and Knight averages 1.8 TOV. Between the three of them, that’s already 7.6 turnovers per game. All in all, the three are responsible for 47.2% of the teams turnovers.

The Phoenix Suns are still a young team looking to rise in the next couple of years. The team’s average age is 25.9 and they drafted the youngest player in the league both in 2015 (Booker) and 2016 (Bender).

With a talented young core and a promising upcoming draft class, the future looks brighter than ever for the Suns.

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