The NBA is officially at the halfway point of the season and the Phoenix Suns are currently sitting in the 8th seed in the Western Conference with a 29-25 record. Heading into the All-Star break, the Suns are not looking so hot as they have only won three out of their last 10 games.
In order to maintain their playoffs hopes alive, the Suns must make some second half adjustments. First off, head coach Jeff Hornacek has to devote more time to defense during practice. Defense has been the Achilles Heel for the Suns this season as they are allowing teams to average around 104.3 points per game, which ranks close to the league worst at 28 out of 30 teams.
If Phoenix can somehow stop opposing offenses and still keep their playoff spot in tact, they have the potential to make some noise come late April and May, as the offense is still lights out most night as they are scoring around 105.9 points per game, good for fourth in the league.
In addition to sticking a hand in the defenders face, the Suns must also learn to play better defense for a full 48 minutes, as the team this season alone has lost to teams hitting buzzer beaters four times against them. Most recently on Sunday Feb. 8 to DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings.
If Phoenix would have played better defense down the stretch and won all four of those game they would have a record of 33- 21 and only be behind San Antonio by two games for the seventh seed.
Another area in which the Suns need to improve on is getting shooting guard/small forward Gerald Green more involved. His minutes this year have been inconsistent which have lead to his stats to be inconsistent as well. For example, in Green’s last four games his total minutes have been 22, 7, 11 and 20.
Yes, things were different last year for Green as the Suns did not have a healthy Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas was not on the team. This caused Goran Dragic to be the main point guard last year and it shifted Green to be the starting shooting guard. On the season, Green is averaging 12.5 PPG and 20.8 minutes per game, last season he was scoring 15.8 PPG and playing 28.4 minutes per game.
The Suns as we all know have a plethora of point guards on their roster, Bledsoe who just signed an extension with the team this past offseason, Thomas newly acquired free agent, Tyler Ennis rookie 1st round pick, and Dragic who is in the final year of his deal with Phoenix. Throughout the season we have seen that Ennis is the odd man out and has been sent down to the D-League in order to give him playing time.
The Suns are in dire of another Center especially since Alex Len is nursing and ankle injury he suffered against Portland on the Feb. 5. Miles Plumlee is having a down year compared to his numbers from last year and Brandan Wright has done an okay job since being traded to the Suns.
The likelihood of Dragic coming back to Phoenix looks doubtful at the moment. So why not trade Dragic while his name has some trade value for an established big man. The Suns tried doing this last season as the team was on the verge of acquiring Pau Gasol at the trade deadline.
Brook Lopez center of the Brooklyn Nets has been mentioned in trade talks this season and would a great fit for the fast paced offense down in Phoenix. On the season, Lopez is averaging 15.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.7 APG, and 1.7 blocks per game.
To start the second half of the season, the Suns will hit the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 20 and travel to Chicago the very next night to face the Bulls.
Phoenix has two key road trips that they must look out for down the stretch of the season and coming out with a winning record if they want to keep their playoff spot. First from March 2-7 they will travel to Miami, Orlando, Brooklyn and Cleveland. Then for their last road series of the season from April 7th– 12th they will face Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans and San Antonio.