The Phoenix Suns and Elfrid Payton union isn’t going well so far

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 5: Elfrid Payton
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 5: Elfrid Payton /

The partnership of the Phoenix Suns and Elfrid Payton hasn’t gone well so far, but like with most failing unions, there’s blame on both sides.

When the trade for Elfrid Payton first occurred, I wrote how the Phoenix Suns had easily won the trade. However, 18 games into Payton’s tenure as the starting point guard isn’t showing good results. The union of the two hasn’t been pretty, since the trade the Suns have been an abysmal 1-17. Like most dysfunctional relationships, the Suns and Payton share the blame in the failures on court.

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Payton’s defensive effort has been lacking, which can be seen from his decrease in steals per game after the trade was executed, however it goes beyond just steals. Since the trade, Payton has had the worst defensive rating of his career and his defensive box plus/minus rating is at the second lowest mark of his career. Needless to say that if the Payton era is to continue beyond this season, then he will need to buckle down on defense.

One major contrast from Payton with the Orlando Magic versus him with the Suns is his shooting percentages.

Per Game Table

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While there’s isn’t a major change in his shots attempted, his percentages still dropped since coming to Phoenix. However, the changes in his percentages isn’t primarily his fault. Before the trade Payton was on a team that’s currently ranked ninth in assists per game. He’s now on a team that is ranked 28th in assists per game. To say that going from a good passing team to a bad one wouldn’t affect one’s offensive numbers would be foolish. Advanced shooting numbers show how drastically Payton’s offense has been affected.

Shooting Table
% of% ofFG%FG%DunkDunkCornCornHeavHeav

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Generated 3/25/2018.

The offense that interim head coach Jay Triano has the team running is forcing Payton to create more of his offense, which isn’t doing Payton any favors. If the Suns want Payton to shoot better, then they will have to revamp their offense to help give him and other players, easier looks which starts with better ball movement.

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While the union between the sides hasn’t been great so far, there’s things that both sides can do to help each other out. The Phoenix Suns have to come up with an offense that has better ball movement to help Payton’s shooting. On the flip side of the coin, Payton will have to lock down defensively if the Suns want a chance at winning. The chance at a long term union between the two parties isn’t out of reach, but it will take work from both sides.