How are the Phoenix Suns winning without Kelly Oubre?

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns are playing their best basketball all year in the bubble. So how is this happening now while one of their best players, Kelly Oubre, is out?

Undoubtedly, the entire Phoenix Suns team is firing on all cylinders. The bench, which used to be a weak point, is now a strength for this squad.

Cam Payne has been tremendous in filling the void of the backup point guard position. He has been orchestrating the offense at a high level and made key shots when they have needed them most.

Cameron Johnson in the starting line up has created more space for this team with his ability to hit the three-ball consistently and has played solid defense. He has made it easy to forget he is only a rookie. Johnson’s play in the starting line up also has allowed for Dario Saric to flourish off the bench, making a case for the Suns to re-sign him in the off-season.

The squad taking the hardwood the past seven games have clearly jelled together, and it has shown win after win. They’ve won games where they have had to come from behind. They’ve won games in the final seconds – thank you, Devin Booker. They have stepped on the throat of teams in the third period allowing starters to rest in the fourth. They are playing more harmoniously than peanut butter and jelly.

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The Phoenix Suns have looked good without Kelly Oubre.

So why is this happening now, with Kelly Oubre on the bench? Is it simply a coincidence?

This is no coincidence. It has to do with Kelly Oubre’s style of play, in addition to Mikal Bridges in the starting line up. When Oubre is on the court, the ball tends to stick, whereas with Mikal, the ball does not stop moving.

As much as I hate to say it, when Mikal is on the court, the Suns remind me of the Spurs.

Oubre tries to be the second alpha on the team instead of a complimentary piece to Devin Booker.  The major difference between Booker’s alpha mentality is he still looks to get others involved as showcased by his 6.5 assists per game this season. Oubre’s, on the other hand, has been sitting around 1.5, with a career average of 0.9. His alpha-dog play is primarily focused on pounding the rock through the rim.

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The Phoenix Suns bubble squad has been so successful thus far because they are playing unselfishly. A collective team effort to always look for the open shot, or the hot hand. The ball rarely sticks to the floor and is always moving. No one tries to take over the game by themselves, outside maybe of Devin Booker, which is how it should be. They have been looking to do it as a team. This is why they have been so successful without Oubre on the court.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Kelly Oubre is obviously dripping with talent. But as Suns fans have learned time after time these past few years, it takes much more than talent alone to win games. It has to be a team effort from start to finish.

There is nothing wrong with Oubre’s style of play, but it appears – based on the team’s recent performance – not to mesh with how the Phoenix Suns and Monty Williams want to play the game. This team does not need two alphas, and Devin Booker is obviously the big dog in the house.

The Suns need to take a serious look at the results from the bubble this off-season. They need to figure out if Kelly Oubre is willing to fit their style of play long term, or if he is better off being traded to bring in other assets that will continue the growth we are seeing take shape before our very eyes.

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