Phoenix Suns Need to Develop Some Sort of Identity

By Cody Williams
Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns
Mark D. Smith – USA Today Sports Images

The Phoenix Suns are going through an apparent identity crisis, and the results are a lack of success on the floor.

Phoenix is currently in last place in the Western Conference with a record of only 17-35 and don’t seem to be threatening to rise in the standings any time soon. And when you look at it, it’s probably because they have no idea who they are as a team. They’ve constructed a team that is, more or less, a hodge-podge of talent that doesn’t really cohesively fit together either.

By bringing together a core of Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola, Michael Beasley and others, the Suns have given themselves a plethora of solid players. However, the problem is that many of these players either are specialists or they need the ball to be successful. In addition, their roster is severely lacking in any players that make defense a priority.

That’s why they’ve had an underwhelming season statistical season thus far. Phoenix ranks 18th in the NBA in field goal percentage (44.3), 21st in points per game (94.8), 22nd in opposing points per game (100.1), 29th in opposing field goal percentage (46.9) and 24th in rebound differential (-2.5). They’re in the lower-half of the league in almost every statistical category.

They’re poor defensively because most of their guys like Beasley and Dragic are offensive-minded. But then why are they subpar on offense as well? That answer is two-fold.

First, many of the players on their roster need the ball in their hands to create offense for themselves. The problem is basically that there’s only one basketball on the floor. Dragic can’t score or create if Beasley has the ball. Beasley can’t score if Scola has the ball. That’s simple, but it really hurts the sun.

The other part of why their offense struggles is that many of their key offensive players are neither consistent nor efficient on offense. For instance, of their six leaders in minutes per game, only Gortat shoots above 50 percent from the field at 53 percent. Below him, the next most efficient is Dudley at only 47.5 percent. The bottom of the list ends with Beasley at an atrocious 39.8 percent. The majority of their key players are streaky offensive players that don’t really produce night-in and night-out. That’s not really an identity that translates to winning.

Now the Suns are in exploratory talks to possibly acquire Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks. But why would they do that? That’s not going to solve their problem at all. In fact, it’s probably just going to compound on it.

Shumpert is an obviously talented player that has definite value in the league. But on this Suns team, he’s just another player that’s inefficient and inconsistent offensively. The only thing he might add would be a little bit of defense, even though one perimeter defender isn’t going to change much.

The Suns have a team that doesn’t really know who they are because they don’t really work as a unit. They are essentially a group of individuals all wearing the same uniform and nothing more. If they want to have success in the future, they’re going to have to change that.

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