Suns could hand opponents more points than any other team in nearly two decades

Jan 28, 2016, 8:00 AM
Phoenix Suns' Archie Goodwin (20) passes over Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) during the firs...

Phoenix Suns' Archie Goodwin (20) passes over Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

It’s no secret the Phoenix Suns’ list of problems this season don’t end after mentioning the team’s lack of offensive firepower — injuries have not helped there — nor while noting their league-worst defensive numbers.

Tying those two things together are the Suns’ turnovers, a result of bad offense that (partially) leads to those bad defensive statistics.

Allowing more points off turnovers correlates with losing and (surprise!) Phoenix’s foes have already taken advantage of those turnovers at a historically high level.

Dating back to the 1996-97 season, the furthest back NBA.com can provide the statistic of opponent points off turnovers, only nine teams have had their opponents take more advantage of mistakes than this 2015-16 version of the Suns.

Year Team Record Opp. points off turnovers
2015-16 76ers 7-39* 21.6
1999-2000 Bulls 17-65 21.0
1996-97 Warriors 30-52 20.7
2014-15 76ers 18-64 20.6
1996-97 76ers 22-60 20.6
2002-03 Cavaliers 17-65 20.3
2003-04 Wizards 25-57 20.1
2010-11 Timberwolves 17-65 20.0
2005-06 Knicks 23-59 20.0
2015-16 Suns 14-33* 19.9

Phoenix allows 19.9 points off its turnovers, and leading the list is this year’s Philadelphia 76ers — opponents have scored 21.6 points off turnovers against them.

Before this season ends, this Suns team could be on pace to challenge the current Sixers for most points allowed off turnovers since that 1996-97 season. Phoenix has allowed 22.8 since guard Eric Bledsoe’s season-ending knee injury.

If that keeps up at the same rate for the remaining 35 games this season, the Suns will have allowed an average of 21.1 opponent points off turnovers for the year. It would rank second-worst over the past 19 seasons, and that’s assuming Philadelphia doesn’t get its act together this year.

When the 76ers beat the Suns 113-103 on Tuesday, Philly scored 28 points off Phoenix miscues to just 11 Suns points scored of the Sixers. On Wednesday in a 115-93 Phoenix loss, Cleveland scored 33 points off 23 Suns turnovers.

Oddly enough, the numbers over the past month haven’t been a result of more miscues. Phoenix averaged 16.6 turnovers per 100 possessions with Bledsoe healthy compared to 16.5 since his injury.

For whatever reason, the Suns have been committing more live ball turnovers that have led to the 22.8 points off turnovers compared to 18.4 with Bledsoe in the rotation.

Ugly numbers over a month’s worth of data and 16 games played may only indicate that it’s been a difficult process to replace Bledsoe and now Brandon Knight, who could be out until around the All-Star break, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said on the Burns and Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

While combo guard Archie Goodwin and shooting guards Sonny Weems and Devin Booker have set up offensive possessions, it only appears to be getting worse as the Suns adjust their offense to fit the personnel. They are running more sets, using more passing and less dribbling, all while trying to make the correct reads on the fly and execute those passes.

If there aren’t improvements soon, it could end badly in a record-setting way.

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Suns could hand opponents more points than any other team in nearly two decades