The Phoenix Suns are beginning to show some real promise as a playoff contending team this season. Most analysts, fans and experts had the Suns slated as a team that was merely there to contend for the lottery and one that had a real chance of claiming the number one pick at seasons end but early form is proving that to be a big misnomer.
The Suns are riding a five game winning streak, sit sixth in the star studded western conference with a 14-9 record and have what many consider one of the most exciting point guards the league has to offer in Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe is finally getting his chance to shine in Phoenix after spending the last two seasons in the shadow of Chris Paul. He is averaging 19.5 points per game on a career high .489 from the field, 6.4 assists per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and 1.8 steals per game. He also sits amongst some esteemed company in the Hollinger Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) with a score of 22.18, above such players as James Harden, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade. Bledsoe, should he continue to produce like this for the remainder of the season, is a serious candidate for the Most Improved Player award.
Bledsoe is a big part of why the Phoenix Suns are playing so well this season but he’s not the only reason. Bledsoe’s backcourt partner Goran Dragic is also having a career year, averaging 19.5 points on .496 from the field with 6.1 assists and 3 rebounds per game. The Bledsoe/Dragic backcourt is certainly proving to be one of the best in the NBA currently.
On top of what is arguably, a league best backcourt, the Suns possess a youthful yet potent frontcourt made up of the ever improving Morris twins, high flying swingman Gerald Green, the sharp shooting veteran Channing Frye and a big man in Miles Plumlee who is turning into an adept defender of the paint and very solid centre.
The last time the Phoenix Suns were a playoff contending team they were an offensive juggernaut featuring the likes of point guard extraordinaire Steve Nash and a healthy, dominant Amare Stoudemire. While this Suns team isn’t quite in the same realm regarding their offensive ability they do possess the scoring prowess needed to get back to the playoffs. Their offensive rating courtesy of Basketball Reference is 108.2 which is good for sixth in the NBA and they are averaging a more than respectable 102.6 points per game.
Defensively they still have some work to do as their 105.9 defensive rating and 100.3 points allowed per game attest to. They tend to defend the perimeter well and have only given up 144 treys this season which is fourth best in the league but their high turnover rate and lack of defensive rebounding are things that are in need of improvement.
The Suns have a young team, a first year head coach and what many believed to be an inferior squad but against all the odds they have started the season in sensational form. The question from this point on is whether or not they will look to make a move to ensure they will be a contender should they make the post season or does the hot start go cold and should it, just where do they land in the lottery. Whatever the future holds the Sun certainly is shining brightly in Phoenix right now.