Advanced stats say the Phoenix Suns lack the hustle

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Ricky Rubio Monty Williams Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

The difference between winning and losing in the NBA is razor-thin. If you do the little things right, the big things will take care of themselves. The Phoenix Suns aren’t doing the little things right, and the big number in the loss column is beginning to add up.

As a Phoenix Suns fan and basketball junkie, I’m not going to lie…I love advanced stats.

Are they the Bible? By no means. Do I expect Monty Williams to make every decision based on them? Not a chance. There is something to be said for the feel of a game and making your decision based on that. There is no “momentum” statistic, and although some people do not believe “the big mo” is a real thing, I believe it is, especially in basketball.

The ebb and flow of the game, coupled with the on-court intensity provided by the players, should never be ignored simply because some advanced stat says Ricky Rubio is a better shooter against left-handed defenders in the 3rd quarter (not a real stat, don’t waste your time trying to find it).

Although I love the roster that James Jones has built, it is clear it is not working. I believe in the players, I believe in the coaching, and I believe in the team’s broad direction. But again, it is not working. When you are blowing 21-point leads at home to a team that is without three of its best players, it is clear something is wrong.

What’s wrong is the hustle.

When you begin to go down the advanced statistics rabbit hole, you find some things that justify what you see on the court. Hustle is hard to define statistically, but if you look at loose ball percentages and contested shots, you can start to paint a picture of how much effort a team puts forth every game and every possession.

Are they pesky on defense? Are they pressuring shooters into difficult shots? Are they throwing their hands in the face of the opponent? Do they have active arms?

Categories exist that speak to effort and hustle. The Suns do not fare well in some of these categories.

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