Point 2: It’s the toughness stats that define a team’s upside, not the pace at which a team plays.
With the usual caveat after only 15 games (it’s still early), the Suns are a markedly different group on paper.
You think you’re seeing a slower tempo? You’re right.
Entering Tuesday, Phoenix ranked 29th among NBA teams for Pace (number of possessions per 48 minutes), a Basketball Reference metric that underscores the Paul-led offense’s deliberate nature.
Last season, the Suns ranked 10th in Pace.
Is this good, bad, indifferent? By comparison, it just depends on a team’s DNA and preferred style.
The quickest teams by Pace are the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors — not exactly a collection of title contenders.
Down the list near the Suns are the Los Angeles Clippers (26th) and Denver Nuggets (27th).
And these Suns are not soft.
They rank 12th in Basketball Reference’s Defensive Rebounding Percentage, a number that could very well improve with the return of Dario Saric and the continued Beast Ayton performances.
As further proof of the team’s staunch dedication to toughness, the Suns are actually better on defense in 2020-21.
Bottom line: Critics of the slower-pace Suns need to look deeper into the big picture. Teams win in all kinds of ways.