Phoenix Suns Player Grades After First Half of the Season

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Mid-Season Grades for the Phoenix Suns: Starting Five

No NBA lineup has played more possessions together than Phoenix’s starting unit of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and Deandre Ayton.

Although Paul’s recent injury promises to dismantle this unit for some time, their familiarity with each other has led to ample success, naturally leading to relatively positive grades for everyone involved.

Chris Paul – 14.9 PPG, 10.7 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.9 SPG (.487/.330/.843)

Averaging the most assists and the third most steals in the NBA this year, Chris Paul has done what an old school point guard should do almost flawlessly.

His scoring and percentages though, especially from three, do raise an eyebrow however. But regardless, those that actually watch Paul play rather than just browsing through stats know that Paul always begins hitting shots when it matters most.

He averages the 10th most points per clutch possession, and shoots the second-highest percentage as a clutch scorer, only behind his teammate Devin Booker. When they need a big shot, the Suns roll with the Point God, and he delivers like Santa Claus on Christmas.

Grade: A

Devin Booker – 25.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 5.2 RPG (.446/.369/.863)

Amidst an up and down season for Booker, his numbers still look satisfactory as we move through February. He remains a lethal scorer to say the least, but if the season ended today, this would be his lowest scoring average in five years.

At one point this season, Book was also shooting above 40.0 percent from deep. With consistent 3-point shooting being a feat which Booker needs to accomplish in order to take his game to the next level, this drop-off over the last few weeks has been disappointing.

But regardless, Booker remains the lifeblood for this unit. On too many occasions to name, he’s put the entire team on his back, and like Paul, his ability to hit big time shots more than makes up for his overall numbers.

The fact that Kevin Durant took him with his first reserve pick in the All-Star Game was a nod from one bucket-getter to another, and a testament to what was still a solid start to the season for Booker.

Grade: A-

Mikal Bridges – 13.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 APG (.530/.365/.840)

As one of just two starters to play every game for Phoenix this year, Mikal Bridges is the glue that holds this team together, as over-used as that metaphor is.

Although more difficult to quantify, if you actually watch Bridges play, you know why they call him “the warden,” as he locks up opposing players with his seven-foot-one wingspan and a smile on his face night in and night out.

His decreased 3-point shooting from a year ago remains one area to try and improve, but other than that, Bridges’s first half of the season warrants no major complaints.

He still represents that efficient shooting, fast break moving, and lethal defender which everyone expected him to embody once again this year, while also adding other facets to his game such as elite rim finishing and self-created shots in the half court.

Grade: A

Jae Crowder – 8.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 SPG (.395/.337/.810)

Phoenix’s impressive start to the season as a team has masked a somewhat lackluster run for swingman Jae Crowder. Only during his rookie season did he shoot a lower percentage from the field, and his long range percentage is at its lowest since the 2018-19 season.

His defense has also grown subpar at least by his standards as well. Far too often, opponents catch him ball watching which leads to easy buckets.

The numbers back this up. Last year, the effective field goal percentage by Phoenix’s opponents took a massive dip anytime Crowder stepped onto the floor, putting him in the 90th percentile. But this year, his presence appears far less impactful, with him in the 65th percentile.

Being a guy who went to the NBA Finals each of the past two years, perhaps Crowder is just bored with the regular season. One can only hope this is the case, as the Suns will need him come playoff time when the stakes grow higher.

Grade: C-

Deandre Ayton – 16.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.4 APG (.633/.728)

When healthy, Deandre Ayton has been dynamite for the Suns. Few big men shoot the ball with such efficiency, and his abilities to keep up his red hot field goal percentage while incorporating more midrange jumpers into his arsenal remains quite impressive as well.

Staying healthy feels like the only task for Ayton to improve on. Availability is the best ability, but again, I’m digging here to find something to criticize Ayton on, and the best I can come up with is something that was not even really his fault.

Grade: A