Phoenix’s offensive woes go well beyond Michael Redd

Michael Redd gives the Suns another shooter, but their offensive problems are much deeper.

As Zimmerman wrote earlier today, the Phoenix Suns could potentially catch lightning in a bottle with Michael Redd.

Despite two major knee surgeries, the 32-year-old comes to Phoenix with virtually zero risk. Sure, he’s only played 28 games in the past two seasons, but for the veteran minimum he’s more than worthy of an injury flyer.

If the Suns whiff and Phoenix’s renowned training staff can’t work wonders on Redd a la Grant Hill, all that’s lost is a little more than a million dollars. If Redd can’t revitalize his career in purple and orange, as Jay Z said, it’s On to the Next One for the Suns.

But even with his potential to regain Milwaukee form and the lack of risk he brings, it’s important to understand that Redd isn’t the answer to Phoenix’s offensive woes. The Suns’ anemic offense goes well beyond Michael Redd.

They aren’t averaging 83.5 points per game – 28th in the NBA – because they’re missing a 32-year-old sharpshooter to spread the floor. Phoenix isn’t the seventh-least efficient offense in the league because it’s hurting for another three-point specialist.

The problem isn’t making open shots, it’s creating open shots. The Suns have more than enough shooters to spread the floor. Aside from Grant Hill and Josh Childress, every Suns wing or guard is a legitimate three-point threat. Between Steve Nash, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Shannon Brown, and even Markieff Morris at times, the Suns have a handful of shooters to choose from.

What the Suns need – and have needed since Joe Johnson left for Atlanta – is another creator. They need someone to alleviate Nash from the constant pressures of carrying this team’s scoring duties on his back. Michael Redd isn’t the answer, or really even a portion of the answer, to that problem.

Yes, if he’s making shots, Nash’s driving lanes will open up that much more. Sure, if Redd is dialed in and even a fraction of what he was during his golden days with the Bucks, the Suns’ offense has the potential go off from time to time.

But that’s the case with any of Phoenix’s players. If Frye’s drilling threes, the Suns are tough to beat. If Dudley gets in the mix, Nash has more room to operate.

The Suns’ problem lies in their philosophy. Their blueprint is backwards. Playmakers are supposed to open up shots for shooters, shooters aren’t supposed to open up lanes for playmakers.

If the Suns plan to rely on Redd, they’re simply living and dying by the three ball to make up for their inability to create off the bounce or in the post. On one hand, that’s the Suns’ only option.

They’re not going to find an instant offense type of guy for a discount in free agency. But they also have to find ways to use the roster they do have, whether it’s through more sets or augmented roles. Nash will wear down if he faces hard traps out of the pick and roll for 64 more games.

Phoenix needs to find a way to create offense through someone other than Nash. Unfortunately for the Suns, that solution doesn’t seem to be on the current roster, even with Redd in the mix.

So while Redd is a risk-free signing that could give the Suns a perimeter scoring punch they need, he won’t solve their offensive problems. He’s not the solution to their epic problem. That solution may have to wait until the offseason.

Tags: Michael Redd

  • shazam

    the only answer is dont turnstile for the suns this year ..dont reward sarver for trading joe j and amare etc…just so he could recoup money from his real estate losses…make him beg for a designer bag…dont reward nash and hill for not caring about winning..if they did care they would have asked for a trade..they want to be all comfy and close to their kids..dont reward babby for selling us crap and then exploiting how stupid our owner is further by grabbing the top job as turnstiles and watch how fast they get rid of nash and hill..THEN we can finally start to rebuild..thru draft and fa next year..lets just lose as many as we can this year and get it over with..i said before that i havent been this upset since walter davis im pre-dating that..i loved the hawk but i havent been this upset since we lost the flip.

  • Mike

    I don’t think it’s a matter of finding a key scorer. I’m going to go ahead and disagree with the statement that it’s a personnel problem.

    Yes, it would be awesome to have JRich or Jamal Crawford — someone who drives defenses nuts — but the offensive efficiency in Phoenix was always a team effort with Nash at the center. There were some key parts of the system that had to remain consistent that we’re missing right now:
    - passing: the assist totals and a:t ratios are not where they need to be
    - tempo: the shots per game and, consequently, how deep they go into each possession is different; it feels like they let the other defense set up and don’t establish the healthy state of chaos they need to “flow” and it’s shown by fewer assists, fewer shot attemps
    - accuracy: they just aren’t making shots. I do believe this will get better, but only if the two above problems get fixed

    When it comes to personnel I think the main thing is establish who the gunners are. Grant and JRich filled that pretty well last year for both the first and second units. This year, who is it? Gentry needs to establish those roles and make sure those guys know, “when the other team shoots and misses, your ass needs to be at the other basket in 3 seconds.”

    Overall, it’s really hard to build a lot of conclusions on two games. Hollinger as ESPN wrote a lot about the Mavs being blown out at home twice — it happened to the Suns once. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a common thing and that it was a learning experience for a team that needs to find their identity.

  • Mike

    Schwartzy — after re-reading I think we’re more or less in agreement; it’s not just one thing, it’s the combination of all the factors that creates the stagnant offense we’re seeing. :)

  • Mike Schmitz

    @Mike: Schmitz :)

  • KentAZ

    I agree with shazam. Sarver is the problem here. He’s a cheapskate who has allowed a once contending Suns team to slide into lottery oblivion. Redd, as the piece notes, isn’t the answer.

    It’s not about being fair weather fans–it’s about not rewarding the owner’s stinginess. This team is going nowhere fast–you can’t even argue it’s a rebuilding phase.

  • shazam

    @ kentAz… “This team is going nowhere fast–you can’t even argue it’s a rebuilding phase.”…= PERFECT

  • A-ROCK

    Let me open you up to what is going on with this trade so you all can see what is happening,this trade is all about selling the fans false hope only to have an escape goat in Red when he is booted out of Phx for not performing, then we can all blame him and not look at the real problem who is the owners. I mean tell me who has been trying to sign Redd, He is washed up, he use to be a stud, it is a pipe dream Sarver is feeding the fans! He got signed for the vetrans minimum so why did he pick the “D” league Suns as a team with a sorry head coach, He is not going to get better, though he may be in better shape when he leaves Phx due to the trainers! :) Phx Suns is the spa team of the league, old players come here to get rejuvinated, relax on D, Play offense if they can shoot, and you never have to get boards! hahaha Must be a nice team to play for if you don’t want a championship but want to live the life of a professional nba player!!!!! Sarver needs to stop paying all the money to the trainers and take care of the players himself with hard cash so players will stay in Phx and not just make this a vacation spot!

  • A-ROCK

    Good Read Mike schmitz.
    We need more real talk in the valley rather than the tip toeing not wanting to step on anyones shoes p#$$y talk, now one on this team should have any fans including the owner and definantly any lady admirers and the only reason I post is because they represent MY CITY, I can care less about any of the players they are wet tissue paper soft!

  • steve

    If you can care less, please do. Then maybe you’ll stop with this annoying garbage.

  • Sun-arc

    Really good article. I think you are right that there are more problems than just shooting. Mike’s comments are mostly right too, but the suns were so good in ’09-’10 largely because everyone was a threat: Nash, jrich, hill, amare, & frolo were all legit threats on the court, which opened up the offense because at least stat deserved a dbl team. So opposing teams had to pick their poison. They could all shoot an open shot.

    If gortat, frye, hill, dudz, and Nash are hitting shots, they have a chance but good defenses can still play man to man (no dbl team) keeping open shots to a minimum, making our O prone to sputter, particularly late in games.

    So- what I see is a 2-prong problem. Our personnel Can be effective IF they are all hitting shots. But, they haven’t been, and likely won’t all be jiving simultaneously often. When they aren’t, it is the lack of better talent with the ability to create their own shot we lack, which is most games. And against elite defenses, hitting shots won’t be enough anyway.

    So, while I agree about the tempo part of your argument, I think the passing only comes on when there are openings from someone collapsing defenses, and the accuracy… Well, that’s both problems of who we have and the way we are playing.

    I hope redd will come back, but he isn’t going to win us that many games even if he does.

  • Scott

    Redd is an answer, but not to some of the questions posed.

    If the question is: which of the new Suns is a reliable shooter? The answer is: only Warrick. And now … maybe Redd.

    Price, Telfair, Childress, and Brown do not have a history as being reliable shooters who regularly put up a fair amount of points. Redd can do that.

    You can’t win a game without scoring, so you need players like Redd.

  • auggie5000

    Scott, I would not call Warrick a reliable shooter… have you seen the guy shoot??
    That’s all. Thx.

  • Bilal

    We all need to calm own and just think- The shots are going to start going in at some point this season and with a shortened season injuries and fatigue is eventually going to increase, with one of the deepest benches in the NBA we can take advantage of it when it does happen. All I am saying is that take it easy, its only been two games. Boston has lost 3, Mavs lost 4. Now im not trying to sound too optimistic because we clearly have problems. Just sit back and wait if this pays off(WHICH I HAVE A FEELING IT WILL), otherwise we have the lottery to look forward too.

  • Sun-arc

    Scott: all true.
    Auggie: he actually has been shooting better this year. He might be the most efficient shooter in the 2+2 games thus far (if not Lopez). But that is the scary thing.

  • Tony


    you are spot on. This Redd signing is just a pr stunt by Sarver and Babby to sell to the Suns fans that the front office is trying. It’s just nonesense. In preseason, a bunch of teams let Redd work out for them and lol and behold, nobody took him. Now, all of a sudden he’s become the answer to the Suns offensive problems? What a joke. But once again, when you delusional Suns fans who have zero objectivity and are sheep in following this front office, they will applaud this move and think it shows the front office is making an effort. They are so pathetic.

  • Scott

    @auggie -

    Warrick may not have been a good shooter before coming to the Suns. But since he’s been here he’s done pretty well. He had a slow start and was inconsistent last year, but then the whole team suffered from the same. By midseason, if he shot from midrange I felt it was going to go in. I think it’s quite possible he could hit the corner 3 with regularity if he practiced it, but no, I don’t look for him to do shots from the top of the arc or trick shots or anything. Just straight pull-up jumpers and corner 3s.

  • Geo

    Man what the hell is the front office thinking…. they are full of it if they think this move will make the team that much better. Really even if this guy starts to show some signs of his better self, how is this guy going to all of a sudden be the game changer.

    As my much as I hate to say it as a suns fan, I truly believe that even the front office doesnt have that much faith in our team that they made this move.

    The truth is they are starting to panic.

    I agree this team is going no where with one playmaker one the roster and the rest shooters.

    Ps great article, the truth hurts lol.

  • Scott

    @Geo -

    I don’t know if it is the Suns’ fault they didn’t pick up Redd earlier. Maybe Redd was holding out for more money, and none of the teams were willing to give it.

  • Zak

    I think Redd was hoping to get picked up by a better team before the season started but that obviously didn’t happen. I know that he went to Indiana for a workout about 10 days ago and there were rumors that the Knicks might be interested in him too. But the season started without him being signed and Phoenix was probably the best option left open to him if he wanted to play NOW.