For the second straight season, the Phoenix Suns will fall just short in their pursuit for the playoffs in a very tough Western Conference.
With only seven games left to the end of the regular season, it’s now time to look at the season as a whole and examine what moves the Suns should make in order to improve this roster.
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Head coach Jeff Hornacek didn’t waste any time stating his opinion on what his roster needs during an interview with Bickley and Marotta on Monday. When asked if a shooter was the biggest piece missing on this year’s roster, Hornacek said “I think so.”
"“Last year, Channing Frye was able to spread it out and he was a guy that everybody was worried about making threes,” he said. “This year, Isaiah (Thomas) was making threes and Goran (Dragic) wasn’t shooting as well as last year, but he was still kind of a threat.“And last year, Gerald (Green) was kind of big for us — he shot 41 or 42 percent and he’s kind of struggled with his shooting this year, so I think that’s a big need for us.”"
Throughout the years, the Suns have often been one of the better three-point shooting teams in the NBA. That hasn’t been the case this season.
Currently, the Suns rank as the 16th best three-point shooting in the league, knocking down 34.4 percent of their attempts from behind the arc. It’s been much worse recently though.
Phoenix has been especially bad since the All-Star break, shooting just under 30 percent from three. Over the last five games, the Suns have made just 25 percent of their three-point attempts.
When you are shooting that poorly, it’s tough to win basketball games. It becomes that much tougher when you don’t have a beast down in the post and aren’t an elite defensive team, two categories the Suns both fall in.
Being able to shoot the ball on the perimeter is crucial for Hornacek’s offense. With the Suns shooting so poorly in the second half of the season, point totals have gone down significantly as a result and losses have piled up.
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Now, there are some fans out there who will say that the Suns can kill two birds with one stone by signing Kevin Love. Adding Love would not only give the Suns size, but he’s also a career 36 percent shooter from behind the arc.
There’s a couple of problems with that, however.
First, if the Cleveland Cavaliers win the title this year, it’s hard to see them letting Love leave. They gave up Andrew Wiggins, a future superstar, for Love, so they are going to do everything in their power to keep him in Cleveland.
Even if they don’t and he doesn’t agree on a deal with the Cavs, he’d more than likely cost the Suns a max contract. Is Love really worth a max deal? I don’t think he is.
There are other big name players out there, guys like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, but the Suns are more likely to go with a lesser name who isn’t going to cost a ton.
When looking at the free agent list this summer, two names really intrigue me; Khris Middleton and Danny Green. Both are names that Suns fans should be very familiar with as Middleton hit a game-winner against Phoenix earlier this season and Green has a knack for hitting clutch shots against everybody.
Middleton and Green are two of the better three-point shooters in the league this season. Middleton is tied for 11th in the league at 41.5 percent from three-point range with Green just below him 41.1 percent at 14th overall.
There are several things to like about both players that make them attractive options for the Suns besides their quality shooting.
Middleton will turn just 24 in August while Green is right in the middle of his prime at age 27. Those ages fit in nicely with the youth of the Suns current roster.
Phoenix also wouldn’t likely wouldn’t have to rob the bank for either player. That’s something they want to avoid with Brandon Knight set to be a restricted free agent and the salary cap skyrocketing in summer 2016.
Both Middleton and Green are just a couple of names to throw out there for the Suns this summer. There are several names out there that the Suns will look at, but these are two of the players which I think would fit best here.
I have full confidence that Ryan McDonough and this front office will explore every option over the offseason to address this team’s need at improving their three-point shooting.