Why the Suns are setting despite having Stars.

Steve Nash getting into the All-Star game this weekend reminded me of better times. There was once a time when the Suns were a dominant force in the West. Now, their claim to fame is that they hold a coveted point guard as the trade deadline looms. When I look over Phoenix something seems off. This team should be better than it is! Let’s point out why.

2011-2012 Phoenix Suns up to the All-Star Break*
Player Pos G MP WP48 Wins
Steve Nash 1.0 31 994.5 0.288 5.97
Marcin Gortat 5.0 34 1141.7 0.178 4.24
Jared Dudley 2.4 33 991.1 0.184 3.79
Josh Childress 2.6 19 257.3 0.205 1.10
Channing Frye 4.1 34 826.8 0.037 0.63
Grant Hill 3.0 32 889.0 0.031 0.58
Markieff Morris 4.0 34 698.4 0.017 0.25
Ronnie Price 1.4 28 433.2 0.017 0.15
Hakim Warrick 3.6 21 324.1 -0.013 -0.09
Shannon Brown 2.0 27 555.0 -0.037 -0.42
Robin Lopez 5.0 32 371.8 -0.055 -0.42
Michael Redd 2.2 21 318.9 -0.072 -0.48
Sebastian Telfair 1.0 28 358.0 -0.158 -1.18
Total 8160.0 0.083 14.12

 The Suns have some good pieces

Nash is defying age and is still one of the top point guards in the league. In fact his only competition is Chris Paul! Gortat is a great center. Dudley and Childress are playing well on the wings. In fact, from the looks of things the Suns are in great shape. And while Nash’s 37 years of age are a bit troublesome, Gortat, Childress and Dudley are all 28 or younger. The Suns have one of the best playmakers in the game and a talented young core. How could anything be off?

The Suns really need a power forward

I was really hopeful that Morris would pan out well. Unfortunately, it takes rookies a while to develop and he’s still not there yet. The problem is that the Suns other options were Frye and Warrick. Warrick has been a below average player on limited minutes. Frye has never been a good player. The Suns really needed to solve their lack a power forward and unfortunately for all intents and purposes they’re playing without one.

The Suns are playing the wrong players

Grant Hill was once a top player in the league. He had a resurgance in Phoenix a few years back. I think he’s near the end of his rope now and not the player I would be using. Similarly, Michael Redd was once an above average talent that has now faded. Shannon Brown has never been that good of a player. Somehow all of these players have gotten more playing time than Josh Childress, who has actually been a very good player his entire career. The Suns insistence on giving minutes to below average players over better choices is definitely hurting them.

The Suns have nothing on the bench

In the Sun and Gun days D’Antoni played a short bench and gave a ton of minutes to Nash, Amare and Marion. Having no bench isn’t a problem is you are giving lots of minutes to really good players. As I mentioned though, the Suns don’t have a power forward, aren’t giving enough minutes to their talented wings and because Nash is older they can’t just play him the whole game. The Suns need something off the bench to compete. Right now though the Suns have nothing outside of their top four players.

Summing up

The Suns have a bizarre luxury. For most teams the difficult part is finding a few really good players. The short supply of tall people in the NBA makes these players a rarity. However, the Suns have taken care of getting some talented players. The Suns’ problem is they have quite a few below average players. If the Suns can just play Childress more and get a few servicable role players on their team then they could actually compete for a playoff spot. Of course, if they wait to long to do this then they may miss Nash’s fading window and indeed have to start all over.


*I got my numbers from the Game Splits tool. Be warned it’s a little slow if you want the full season.

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