As we have moved into the new year, the Phoenix Suns have gone back in time with the way they are playing basketball, and it needs to change.
A change in the starting lineup has coincided with a change in mentality from the Phoenix Suns, which has led to confusion from many fans.
While starting lineups are somewhat overrated given the fluctuation in minutes of the players, it does give some more insight into the strategy from coach Monty Williams.
That is the most noticeable change the Phoenix Suns will need to make, moving Baynes back to the bench and inserting either Dario Saric or Mikal Bridges into the starting lineup. Both of them are better fits next to Devin Booker and Ayton as well as more versatile defenders.
Not only is a starting role bad for the health of Aron Baynes, who always seems at risk of serious injury with some of the shots he takes in games, but it is unfair to him.
While Ayton was out, Bayes was the only true center on the roster. Now with Ayton there, he is being asked to play the role of power forward on offense as well as switch on to guards on defense more often which is not his strength.
The most telling stat with the Phoenix Suns recent play is the drop off in their 3-point attempts each game. On the season they rank 12 in the league with 33.9 attempts a game, however, since December 20, they average only 29.1, good for 27th in the league.
Even while using two centers and going away from threes, the Phoenix Suns have still managed to get to the line less than they did to begin the season. From the start of the season until December 15, the Suns averaged 24.8 free throw attempts a game, a number that has dropped to 22.1 from that point on.
A three pointer and free throws are the two most efficient shots to take in basketball, wide open lay-ups and dunks aside, which is why modern offenses emphasize those two shots so much. When the rest of the league has been going more towards that way of thinking, the Phoenix Suns have backed away from it the last few weeks.
A change should be made and it starts with having the correct offensive philosophy in place. The next step will then be to put each player in their best or most natural position inside of that system. Once that is done, the Phoenix Suns will re-join the rest of the league in the future of basketball.