The Phoenix Suns may have slipped to ninth in the NBA in offensive efficiency last season after annually leading the league since the return of Nash, but Synergy Sports Technology still pegged the Suns as the second best offense in 2010-11 after they scored 0.98 points per play.
Synergy rates the Suns’ offense so high in large part due to plays ending with the roll man shooting or a spot-up shooter getting the shot as Phoenix ranked second in the league in both those departments, rankings that are clearly indicative of the still elite playmaking abilities of Steve Nash.
The Suns’ roll men scored 1.19 ppp and shot 56.3 percent. Hakim Warrick (1.28 ppp, seventh in the league) and Marcin Gortat (1.23 ppp, 10th) were both top-10 roll men last season playing next to Nash. So much for all those questions about who the Suns’ roll man will be that we were posing last year at this time as both Warrick and Gortat surpassed the 1.21 ppp that Amare Stoudemire recorded in 2009-10 as a roll man.
The Suns’ spot-up shooters scored 1.08 points per play while knocking down 42.7 percent of their shots overall and a healthy 41.6 percent of their treys. It’s about all he did, but Hedo Turkoglu was a superb spot-up shooter before the Orlando trade, ranking fourth in the NBA by scoring 1.55 ppp while shooting 58.3 percent from two and 57.9 percent from three in spot-up situations. Channing Frye (1.13) and Jared Dudley (1.12) were very solid spot-up shooters as well while taking a good chunk of Phoenix’s spot-up attempts.
Not surprisingly the Suns also ranked in the top 10 when the ball handler shoots off the pick-and-roll but somehow they ranked in top 10 in post-ups as well despite lacking a true post-up threat.
Perhaps the biggest offense shock is that the Suns ranked just 26th in transition efficiency by scoring just 1.11 points per play and converting on just over 52.1 percent of their transition opportunities. That stat in itself shows how far the Suns have gone from their Seven Seconds or Less days to the pick-and-roll dominated offense they run today.
That can be seen even further through the fact that 21.7 percent of their offense came directly from a pick-and-roll and another 22.7 percent came from spot-up shooting that often results from a pick-and-roll.
The Suns also ranked 24th in isolations by scoring 0.8 points on such plays, not a huge surprise considering their lack of a true one-on-one player. Phoenix also struggled off screens, scoring 0.81 ppp to rank 25th.
Defensively, the Suns ranked 21st in points per play by yielding 0.92. That also compares favorably to Phoenix’s 25th defensive efficiency ranking in the league.
The Suns were best at defending handoffs, ranking seventh and allowing 0.86 ppp. That’s in large part thanks to the exploits of Grant Hill, who defended almost a quarter of those plays and ranked seventh in the NBA by yielding 0.6 ppp.
Post-up defense proved to be Phoenix’s biggest problem this year as the Suns allowed 0.94 ppp to rank 29th in that category. Nobody who watched this basketball team will argue with that conclusion.
One thing that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense is that Steve Nash (0.77 points per play) ranked better on isolations than Josh Childress (0.81), Mickael Pietrus (0.84), Grant Hill (0.88) and Dudley (0.93). Perhaps that’s just because the Suns prevented Nash from defending quality isolation players as much as possible whereas a guy like Hill defended every elite iso guy in the league, but even then this doesn’t make sense.
Big picture Synergy says the 2010-11 Suns were an elite pick-and-roll and spot-up shooting team and that made them a top offense overall although their defense, particularly in the post, left much to be desired.
In other words, last year was your typical Phoenix Suns season.