Suns aware of current issues, work to be done after 1-3 start to season

Oct 28, 2021, 3:26 PM
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) drives on Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield during the s...

Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) drives on Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. Sacramento won 110-107. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — “It’s so early, don’t want to overreact to those numbers, but the record reflects that we have to improve in that area.”

That Monty Williams line on the Phoenix Suns’ three-point defense speaks for where the team is at as a whole.

Through four games they are 1-3 and have shown legitimate problems on both sides of the ball. Williams spoke through a couple of those at practice Thursday the night after a loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Even though the defense did have problems against the Kings, it was better in one aspect which we’ll get to in a minute. The bigger issue was offense, where the Suns’ free-flowing system of quick decisions and constantly putting pressure on the defense just wasn’t there.

Williams backed up a point made by forward Jae Crowder after the game that they are going to need more pace. On top of that, Williams took responsibility for stretches where the Suns slowed down to try and get organized with a play call instead of just playing quickly through the system.

“I have to free the guys up a bit more on offense to get out and play faster,” Williams said Thursday. “We haven’t generated the kinds of actions that allow for us to get into 0.5 consistently.

“We turned down some shots but I looked at the film, some of the play-calling, some of the things the guys were trying to do to get what I wanted done on the floor I think slowed us down some. You could see that on the film. We just weren’t as connected offensively.”

Williams said he wants the team especially to try and capitalize after the opposition makes a shot, getting the ball inbounded and up the floor to rapidly get into some movement that puts the defense on its backfoot earlier.

“Get to environments and concepts more than calling plays,” he described it as.

On defense, the Suns were switching a whole lot more, specifically everyone but the centers on just about every opportunity they could when they did it.

As Williams noted, Phoenix was a lot more physical, giving the effort a “B” letter grade, a big improvement compared to how they struggled switching defensively in the first three games.

Shooting guard Devin Booker aptly put it as “taking away the grey area” with the way the team was communicating while making the opponent feel them more through the switching.

That one part of the game was a step in the right direction but all the core issues were there.

“Every aspect of the game we played at a high level last year, we’re not there right now,” Williams said.

The hope is going back to something center Deandre Ayton said after the game, that the Suns’ six-minute comeback attempt in the fourth quarter brought back memories of the team they were that made it to the NBA Finals.

The Suns already know what they are capable of.

“I think the reference points are great just because I don’t have to say it,” Williams said of that. “The staff doesn’t have to say it. Chris, Jae, don’t have to say it anymore. Everybody on the team has those experiences and we can recall those moments, points in those particular games.”

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