Phoenix Suns Best – and Worst – Rim Protectors of 2015-16

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns defense, which often ran two seven footers in Alex Len and Tyson Chandler, should be above average at protecting the rim, at least. The numbers are mixed on the Suns rim protection though.

Overall, the Suns finished 18th in defensive percentage on shots at the rim. Taking just that number you’d say the Suns are a poor defensive team at the rim.

According to, the Phoenix Suns also only allow 14.6 makes per game at the rim, 7th best in the NBA. They only give up 27.6 attempts per game, good for 3rd in the  league.

So the Suns aren’t great at stopping shots at the rim, but they do a great job of stopping those shots from even happening. That is a positive, with one possible concern: are the Suns selling out to avoid the inside shot, only to get burned on the three?

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As a team, the Suns allowed 37.7% percent (worst in the league) on three pointers over 9.8 attempts per game (9th  in the league). also calculates the differential for a team between the expected 3 point percentage (based on the opposing player that took the shot) and the actual 3 point percentage shot.

For example, the Suns allowed their opponents to shoot 37.7% on three point shots. Based on the players that took those shots, you would have expected the Suns opponents to shoot 35.4%. Therefore the Suns have a differential of a positive 2.3 – which is the worst in the league. Long-winded way of saying that players often had above average shooting nights against the Suns. Players looked forward to facing this Suns defense.

The Suns defensively might be attacking down in the paint too aggressively and giving up too many open three-point shots. No matter what the issue is, something needs to improve in the Suns three-point defense.

Back to the Suns rim protection. Here is a quick breakdown of the Suns 2015-16 season, broken down by position group:


Alex Len: 1821 minutes, 443 attempts against, 224 makes against, 50.6% defensive field goal percentage at the rim.

Tyson Chandler: 1618 minutes, 362 attempts against, 194 makes against, 53.6% defensive field goal percentage at the rim.

Given that Chandler was brought in to be a rim protector, his four-year contract continues to look like a waste given Len’s development. More minutes to Len could improve the defense, but wouldn’t be an instant fix. The 3.0 percent difference could be explained by other factors, such as matchups or even luck. This isn’t the solution, but more minutes for Len would be great.


Mirza Teletovic: 1686 minutes played, 309 attempts against, 171 makes against, 55.3% defensive field goal percentage against.

Jon Leuer: 1255 minutes played, 290 attempts against, 147 makes against, 50.7% defensive field goal percentage at the rim.

T.J. Warren: 1070 minutes played, 79 attempts against, 42 makes against, 53.2% defensive field goal percentage at the rim.

P.J. Tucker: 2540 minutes played, 179 attempts against, 89 makes against, 49.7% defensive field goal percentage at the rim.

The real issue here is Mirza Teletovic. Not only does he get taken to the rim often (once every 5.46 minutes), but he gives up the highest percentage of all forwards on the team at 55.3%.

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Jon Leuer faces shots the most often at the rim (once every 4.33 minutes), but that could come down to matchups. Even though Leuer is taken to the rim more, he allows a defensive field goal percentage of 50.7%, significantly better than Teletovic.

While Warren does have a 53.2% defensive field goal percentage at the rim, he only had 79 attempts against him in 1070 minutes – once every 13.54 minutes. He wasn’t the issue.

Mirza Teletovic is the biggest hole on the Suns roster in terms of rim protection. If he leaves, the improvement in the defense should offset the loss of his offense.

If you’re looking for a more traditional statistic, like blocks, nobody on the Suns had more than Alex Len’s 62 blocks in 2015-16. As a team, the Suns finished 28th in blocks at 3.8 per game.

Next: Free Agent Fits in Phoenix

The guards on the Phoenix Suns all don’t have very many attempts against them at the rim, which makes sense. Defensively, you’re not really worried about how they defend the rim – keeping players away from the rim is more important. The defense of the guards will be the subject of a separate article.