Struggles for the Phoenix Suns should be easily fixable

The Phoenix Suns have gotten off to a rough December, with a 1-3 record in the month; although shooting gets blamed, it is the toughness stats where the Suns are failing.

After a scorching 5-1 start in October and a good but not excellent 10-5 record in November, the Phoenix Suns have struggled to drop three out of four to start December. While Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are coming back to Earth from a stellar stretch, the little things that make the team tough that Phoenix is not doing ultimately cost them basketball games.

The Suns’ Shooting in December is not as bad as you think.

Although two blowout losses and falling to the Rockets make it hard to fathom, Phoenix is shooting better thus far in December than they did in November. The overall FG% for the Suns was 47.1% in November and through four games in December. However, despite the poor performance against the Celtics, the Suns are connecting at a higher rate 39.9% on more three-pointers in December than in October or November.

What is problematic in that Phoenix is attempting nearly 36 3’s per game, which is three more per night than during their hot October start. In other words, while they are hitting threes slightly more, they are taking them more and missing out on high percentage opportunities. In October, the Suns shot 49.3% from the field overall but had their worst three-point shooting month at only 34.7%.

We know correlation is not causation, but maybe the Suns are relying too much on the three right now and should have worked for some more high-percentage shots in the first quarters of the last two games.

Phoenix is not coveting the basketball as they should

A big part of the Suns’ best play this season has been when Ayton has rebounded well. However, Ayton is the only consistent rebounder on the team, and the lack of size was evident in the last two games.

In October and November, the Suns averaged more than 43 rebounds per game and are under that mark for December. That is problematic because defensive rebounds are down almost twice per contest while their opponents shooting percentage has been up, making the results of the last two games entirely predictable.

Not only is Phoenix not rebounding as well as they were, but turnovers are also at their highest rate of the season at 15 per game versus less than 13.5 in the previous two months. Add in the fact that steals and blocks are both down, which is a formula for losing basketball.

The good news is that statistics like steals, rebounds, and blocks are predicated more on effort than ability in many instances. Given they have been pushed around for a couple of straight games, we should expect an A+ effort in New Orleans on Friday, and an A+ effort should lead to more of the little things and a competitive Suns team.

Of course, if Phoenix does not give that A+ effort, the Pelicans can do the same thing to them that Dallas and Boston did. We will see which Suns team shows up on Friday and know which by the results.

Valley of the Suns

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