On this week’s roundtable we have Jon Bloom, Bryan Gibberman, Kevin Zimmerman and Paige Dimakos.
1. What’s the top adjustment Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek should make to the rotation?
Jon Bloom: I’m not sure he’s ready to make any major adjustments just yet, but if things don’t improve over the next few games for Markieff, change might be necessary. After going three games without making a three (0-6), and hitting just two of his last 14, the questions are mounting as to whether he can be that stretch 4. Jeff Hornacek could perhaps give him a shot at being the sixth man on this team again (a role he flourished in just two seasons ago). Let me make it abundantly clear, this has nothing to do with his attitude toward the front office during the offseason or his brother. The reason I’m not making the change yet is that I think he should get the next three at least to prove those numbers are a fluke and not a trend.
Bryan Gibberman: I’d do my best to make sure one of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are on the court at all times. According nbawowy.com, there’s been 42 minutes this season when both have been on the bench and the Suns are getting outscored by about four points per 100 possessions. In 53 minutes with Knight on the court and Bledsoe off Phoenix is approximately two points better per 100 possessions, while in 48 minutes with Bledsoe on and Knight off they’re a minus-two. Any way you cut it, the Suns are better with one of them on, rather than both of them off.
Kevin Zimmerman: Generally, the Suns need to play more spot shooting to make it harder to defend the Tyson Chandler-guard pick-and-rolls. None of Brandon Knight, Markieff Morris or Eric Bledsoe have done enough hitting from three to make teams worry about helping with weakside defense. But because those are three of the Suns’ best players, there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to fix this issue on the starting unit. Getting Mirza Teletovic going or Devin Booker more time might be worthy gambles, even if the defense loses a little.
Paige Dimakos: Someone needs to step up. I don’t think anyone has shown that they deserve the minutes over anyone else. Everyone needs to be better. Bottom line. So, I deflect the question. Show me something.
2. What is the most concerning aspect of the Suns 3-4 start?
JB: While many may point to the turnovers (Phoenix averaging more than 17 per game), I think a lot of that has to do with the new rotations & guys figuring each other out. My biggest concern is on the defensive side, specifically in the second half of games. So far the trend has been for the Suns to start out strong defensively and then get worse as the game goes on. Hopefully, they can begin to make the proper adjustments (similar to what their opponents have done to them) moving forward.
BG: The early pattern continuing from last season with not protecting home court. The Suns are 1-2 at Talking Stick Resort Arena with one bad loss on opening night to the Dallas Mavericks and a questionable defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. I can’t call the Pistons loss bad because of how they’re playing to start the season. In 2014-15 the Suns went 22-19 in the desert — not one team that made the Western Conference playoffs won less than 27 games at home.
KZ: I could point to my answer to the first question on this one. The Suns are still not a very good shooting team — but more specifically I’d have to point to the individual struggles of Brandon Knight and Markieff Morris playing into the problems. Both are taking threes — nearly seven a game for Knight and four for Morris — as the necessary rate to space the court, but neither is shooting above 35 percent.
PD: I think that Brandon Knight has been the concern so far as I expected to see more from him. Too many turnovers and not shooting as well as he needs to for this team to be successful. I think this will turn around but the Suns definitely need more from Mr. Knight.
3. Yea or Nay on the Suns black jersey?
JB: I’m a big fan of nearly all the uniforms in PHX these days. I’ve even warmed up to the shirtsey look now that it’s in the cool ember & ash. The black unis are strong, love the shorts as well as the “Civic Pride” name.
BG: I’m typically not a jersey snob and pretty open minded, but I wasn’t into the black look for the Suns. I like the base of purple, white and orange for this team and don’t see much reason to go away from it.
KZ: I actually dig the PHX black jerseys but it was pretty weird to see them debut against Oklahoma City’s alternate orange uniforms. I turned the game on and had to double-take to make sure the Thunder weren’t the Suns.
PD: Yea — I am all about teams trying new things with their jersey rotation. Plus, I like the Civic Pride idea and embracing the fact that they are the only team that is Phoenix, not Arizona. #WeArePHX, you know I love a good hashtag!