A theme coming from new Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek is he wants to play at a fast tempo.
In theory, Hornacek's idea is dead on -- attempting shots earlier in the shot clock whether it be off a turnover, missed basket or made basket leads to better attempts. You're attacking a defense before it gets settled and organized.
The numbers back it up. According to 82games.com, on average when a team shoots within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, players made an effective FG% (eFG% accounts for twos and threes) of 54 percent. From 11 to 15 seconds the eFG% drops to 49 percent, 16 to 20 seconds 47 percent, and 21+ seconds 45 percent. (All further shot clock statistics in the piece are from 82games.com)
Phoenix's problem last year wasn't the pace it played at. The Suns were the ninth-fastest team in the league based on ESPN.com statistics. The problem was they weren't very good at it.
This chart shows the percentage of Suns' shots attempted in each section of the shot clock compared to league average.
The Suns were higher than league average in 0-10 seconds and 11-15 seconds, where teams typically recorded a higher percentage.
Unfortunately for Phoenix, that isn't how it worked out for them.
The 51 percent from zero to 10 seconds, only three percentage points below league average doesn't really look that bad at first glance, but it actually ties the Suns for worst eFG% in the NBA with the Bobcats.
Last season Phoenix had the right idea, they just weren't able to execute properly.
Will they be able to be more efficient in early shot clock opportunities this season?
They should improve for a variety of reasons, the first being they can't possibly be as bad offensively as they were last year.
Eric Bledsoe will help create more transition opportunities by increasing the amount of turnovers the Suns force.
Goran Dragic should only get better in his second year as a full-time starter with his decision-making.
Channing Frye and Marcus Morris shooting threes off the secondary break will be an improvement over many of the shot attempts from last year.
The personnel of the 2013-14 Suns is better suited to play at a faster pace. It won't be easy, though, with so many new faces and the adjustment of them learning how to play together.
However, Phoenix should show growth in this area over the course of the season.