The playoffs no longer an option, it’s time to take stock in the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns.
A team that came together and surpassed all reasonable expectations, it would seem unfair to call the season anything but a success.
“We just wanted the guys to play as hard as they can; establish that type of work atmosphere,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “Yes it’s fun and games to play in the NBA, but you have to put a lot of hard work into it. You’ve got to play as a team.
“We felt that we did that with the guys.”
It’s tough to argue otherwise.
Though the team seemed to essentially let a playoff berth slip through its fingers down the stretch, especially with a trio of losses in which the Suns held late leads, there is little doubt the team took a big step in the right direction this season.
But in order to continue moving forward, improvements will have to be made.
“Execution and passing — we need to get better at those two things,” he said.
The coach said the team has a lot of players who think they can score and think of that first, when the team really needs its players to think about passing before scoring.
“That’s where you look at the good teams in the league, they really move the ball well,” he said. “We’ll improve there.”
Hornacek would also like to see his team improve on the defensive end of the court, and is confident it will happen over time.
After all, he is confident the experience gained this season will only serve to help in the coming years, be it on offense, defense, or late-game execution.
“These guys, not a lot of these guys have been through those situations where teams are really turning it up,” he said. “I’m talking about Dallas, San Antonio, Memphis; all of a sudden they’ve got another level they go to, and they all of a sudden start putting all kinds of pressure on you.”
The first-year coach said his team did not always respond the way it needed to in those situations, and it cost them late in the season.
But today’s mistakes turn into tomorrow’s lessons.
“These guys are young, they’re learning how to do that,” he said. “We’ll look two years down the road and they’ll be doing those same things.”