The winter sports season in Phoenix is an embarrassment of defense. Power play problems? Come to Phoenix. Can’t hit a three? Come to Phoenix. Need an offensive rebound? Come to Phoenix.
Pick your team. Between the ASU frontcourt, the Suns backcourt and the Coyotes blue line, it’s brutal.
Clearly, Phoenix has never been known as a town that embraces great defense, but even Mike D’Antoni would be troubled by what is going on this year. Is there anyone in this town that can play defense? As you could guess, only Dan Majerle can raise his hand.
There are 30 teams in the NBA. Entering Friday, only one is giving up more than the 113 points per game the Suns hand out.
Play Phoenix. Shoot 47 percent. It’s OK. The Suns are in 28th place in field-goal percentage defense. Almost two out of every five three-pointers shot by the Suns’ opponents are good, putting the Suns in 29th place in three-point defense. In the analytic stat of points per shot, the Suns are dead last in the NBA. On top of that, when the Suns aren’t giving up baskets, they foul, giving up 22 points/game from the free-throw line. Again, that’s more than any other NBA team.
The Coyotes are right at the top… of the bottom.
Who gives up the most goals? Not your Coyotes; Arizona is 26th in goals against entering play on Friday. It’s a wonder they’re not worse, considering they give up 33.6 shots/game, the second-most in the NHL. Just two teams take more penalty minutes per game, which puts the opponent’s power play unit on the ice — a lot. Only five teams give up more power play goals and only four teams are worse on the penalty kill.
Stats won’t back up this opinion, but what’s really scary is when you consider Mike Smith has had a good season playing behind this wretched defense.
If the math is tough, there are twelve teams in the Pac-12. Want to guess where the Sun Devils rank in scoring defense? Shooting percentage against? Defensive rebounding? Twelve. Twelve. Twelve.
ASU gives up an incredible 82 points per game. Even if the opponent misses, ASU only grabs 24 defensive rebounds per game, so chances are “they” can get the board and stick it home, which explains the last-place defensive shooting percentage of 48 percent. ASU steps up defensively when the ball is almost 21 feet away, checking into 11th place in three-point defense. Yeah, just like the Suns, almost 2 out of 5 three pointers connect against ASU.
If you want defense, you’ll have to go to GCU. It’s not stellar. Coach Majerle has the ‘Lopes around third or fourth in every defensive category within the WAC. Obviously, you could argue the WAC is the lowest level of competition between the NBA, NHL and Pac-12. If you’re defensive, I’m including GCU on equal footing with the Suns, Yotes and Devils!
At least someone is defensive.
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