The Phoenix Suns have had an eventful offseason so far to say the least, and have also now completed a fruitful trip to the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas. In that time, they have added Bradley Beal and whole host of capable players to fill out their rotation, and said goodbye to Chris Paul.
There is plenty going on with this organization currently, and fans should be excited about the direction of the Suns at this point. Although some have speculated that their summer moves may not yet be finished, for now at least, this seems to be the group who they will begin next season with.
With all of that in mind, let’s examine several areas the franchise are currently making moves in this offseason.
The role of an assistant coach and director of coaching analytics is of paramount importance this season. Incoming head coach Frank Vogel and the assistants on his coaching staff, namely David Fizdale and Jon Pastorek, should be of special interest to fans.
We will see a bunch of improvements across the board but the prevailing thought right now is that these coaches will bring a wealth of experience from various levels of basketball, including working with athletes, coaches, leaders, and executives.
Their backgrounds in basketball operations equip them with a unique toolkit that includes expertise in SportsCode, Team Operations, Basketball Operations, Synergy, and scouting and data too.
These coaches also work in close collaboration with the Vogel and the players, integrating coaching analytics with coaching intuition (forming the decision-making and taking elements to a better standard).
This mesh results in optimized team performance as it combines the power of data with the human understanding of the game. The use of live coding during games provides real-time analytical support, which is instrumental in maximizing player and team performance while minimizing weaknesses.
The role also involves the preparation and presentation of comprehensive performance reports. These reports include detailed shot charts, shot quality, shot distribution, play-call effectiveness, and lineup analysis. Such data-driven insights are invaluable in understanding the team’s performance and making strategic decisions.
In addition to the analytical work, these professionals also play a significant role in team meetings. They deliver impactful presentations in pre-game and post-game meetings, addressing team and individual performance benchmarks based on the desired style of play and analytic trends.
These presentations not only provide insights into past performance but also guide future strategies, contributing to the overall success of the team.
This role will be multifaceted, combining technical expertise, strategic thinking, and effective communication. This role is critical in the modern game of basketball, where data-driven insights are increasingly shaping the strategies and decisions on and off the court.
Back in 2012 at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a breakout session involving Jeff Van Gundy and led by Daryl Morey took place. This was to many the birth of the way in which teams make use of more data-driven insights to be used in the process of breaking down basketball.
Fast forward to 2023, the free agency and subsequent Summer League, and we saw tons of things positively happen to the Suns that can be traced back to that session over a decade ago. Turning our attentions to the Suns’ offseason business, and Beal is a great addition that didn’t seem possible. So too is Bol Bol, and the hope is he makes a positive impact.
The true proof of the Suns however was what happened in Vegas at Summer League. Hunter Hale, a 2020 graduate of Winthrop, was a surprise standout for the Suns. Despite spending the last three seasons playing overseas, Hale showed his worth in Phoenix’s final three Summer League games.
He produced a storm of 3-pointers, showed decent quickness on the ball, and committed only one turnover. Hale’s performance has raised questions about his future, with the Suns being the only franchise without a G League team.
Xavier Moon and Jordan Ford were among the unsigned standouts in Vegas. Moon, a 28-year-old guard, impressed with the L.A. Clippers, averaging 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.2 steals in 27.9 minutes. Ford on the other hand, led the Sacramento Kings in points and assists, showing potential as a traditional point guard. These are two players for the Suns to watch.
Mikael Jantunen, a 6’8″ Finnish forward, represents a wild card for the Suns. After playing two years of college ball at Utah and then returning to Europe, Jantunen showed promise with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 9.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 18.4 minutes. His versatility could be a valuable asset for the Suns if they want to add to the end of their bench.
In a recent development, Jantunen agreed to sign a deal with Paris Basketball, where he will be playing under the guidance of Tuomas Ilsalo (last season’s Basketball Champions League Champion Head Coach of Telekom Baskets Bonn) in the upcoming season.
This move comes after his impressive performance in the Summer League. Jantunen’s decision to play in Paris is seen as a strategic move to further develop his game and make a significant leap in his basketball career. His journey will be one to watch, as his Summer League performance has shown that he has the potential to make a big impact on the court.
The Suns’ have kept a watchful eye on performances in the Summer League, and the scouting of Moon, Ford, and Jantunen in particular show that the organization under owner Mat Ishbia are not content to simply add stars and think they can then win a championship. The Suns find themselves in a great place as the offseason rumbles on.