Should the Phoenix Suns delve into a more modern offensive playstyle?

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3

Having been the NBA’s best regular season team over the past two years, the Phoenix Suns have undoubtedly developed a prosperous playstyle capable of churning out victories.

As part of their recent success, the Suns have cultivated the league’s seventh and then fifth ranked offense over the past two regular seasons.

But in a league that exponentially values the three-point shot, and where mid-range jump shots are frowned upon by analysts, Phoenix have bucked the trend of where modern basketball has headed.

The Phoenix Suns diet of mid-range jump shots defies what analysts suggest is key to an efficient NBA offense.

During the 2021-22 regular season, the Suns joined the Chicago Bulls as the only two teams ranked bottom four in both three-point field goal frequency, along with frequency of shots from within ten feet.

Now, of course, we need to understand the strengths of the leading players on each team. The Bulls leading shot-taker, DeMar DeRozan, has been one of the premier mid-range jump shooters in the league for years, yet seldomly extends his range beyond the three-point line.

DeMar DeRozan and Devin Booker(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan and Devin Booker(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Let’s take a look at the Suns, and in particular their backcourt duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. While Paul has been an efficient three-point shooter over his career (although the percentage dipped last season), he’s never been a high-volume three-point shooter.

The 37-year-old is known as a playmaking wizard and a mid-range maestro. There’s a reason for that. A mammoth 58.5% of his shot attempts last season were taken between ten feet and the three-point line, although he still sat behind DeRozan at 63.9%. Booker too is an elite mid-range shooter, with 39.3% of his attempts coming between ten feet and the three-point line.

If we compare Paul and Booker’s numbers to leading Western Conference rivals, the numbers are startling. Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry faced off in the Conference Finals, offering a completely different playstyle to the Suns’ pair.

Doncic had just 25.2% of his attempts come from within that mid-range area, while Curry, the league’s best ever three-point shooter, had a staggeringly low 14.2%.

Even if we take Deandre Ayton and compare him to his elite contemporaries at the center position, the trend continues. 24.6% of Ayton’s shots came from the mid-range area, in contrast to 16.9% for Joel Embiid and 13.5% for Nikola Jokic.

Despite all their regular season success, is the Suns’ shot selection an issue for them come playoff time?