Scott Howard, Bryan Gibberman, and Sreekar have returned to fill your hearts with love, laughter, and depressing discussion about the Phoenix Suns. None of us missed you.

Remember how Sreekar, Bryan Gibberman, and I used to do a podcast from time to time?  And remember how sometimes you would listen to it and be like - oh hey, those guys are talking about the Phoenix Suns and stuff.  Then on top of that remember how you like the Phoenix Suns?  Well boy do I have some news for you!

We're back!  I'd say we'll make this a more regular thing but with Gibby who really knows.

We recorded this yesterday morning, which is technically still after dark - and we talk about a lot of things, including the Suns early season struggles, the sustainability of Gerald Green saving the team on a nightly basis, and how this upcoming 9 games is vital.  There is also plenty of banter because honestly if this was a straight basketball podcast you wouldn't listen.

Click this to listen to our beautiful voices that you love so much:

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Your Phoenix Suns recap of the week that was, plus a preview of the week to come.

The Phoenix Suns are still in a seemingly constant state of flux after 10 games. A five-game homestand didn't provide the desired results, so they'll have to try and find their footing during a five-game Eastern roadie instead.

While all Suns players have had their bright spots so far in the young season, there is still an ingredient missing somewhere, as they have struggled to exhibit the same charm and competitiveness that they were blessed with during the 2013/14 campaign. Possibly the problem isn't quite as mysterious as it might seem.

(All stats from basktball-reference.com)

Last year's roster had a rather simple structure. The starting lineup featured dual scorers in the backcourt with a supporting cast of role players. Consider the usage rate of each starter on the team:

As the usage rates show, their roles on offense were about as simple as they come. Tucker hustled and hit the corner 3, Plumlee rolled hard to the rim, Frye spread the floor for the guards, and Dragic and Bledsoe carried the bulk of the scoring and playmaking.

Put simply, the guards' job was to score, and the other three players were there to make it easier for them. As Walter Sobchak was known to say, "the beauty is the simplicity. Once a plan gets too complex, everything can go wrong."

Funny you should say that Walter, because that's exactly what we're witnessing now.

While the Morris twins have provided steady production as usual, their presence in the starting lineup completely changes its dynamic. Their usage rates have both dropped from last year, but are still significantly higher than that of Tucker and Frye, whom the twins effectively replaced on opening night.

Here is the current starting lineup and each player's usage rate, and keep in mind Dragic's recent comment about there only being "one ball":

Quite the horse of a different color. If it seemed to you like the players on the court were unsure of whom to defer to and when, you weren't losing your mind; the numbers corroborate this. Having four score-first players on the court to start the game has created obvious problems. Factor in the bloated usage rates of Gerald Green (30.6) and Isaiah Thomas (29.1) off the bench, and the numbers become every bit as convoluted as the team looks on the court.

Of course, usage rate only tells part of the story. The real problem with grouping the Slash Bros and the Morris twins is that all four players have suffered a drop in TS% from last year.

  • Dragic, .604 to .541
  • Bledsoe, .578 to .558
  • Markieff, .564 to .518
  • Marcus, .552 to .499

The sample size is duly noted, but the data is consistent across the board. Collectively, these guys can't get out of eachother's way.

Whether it is through trade or a reassignment of roles and responsibilities, the task at hand for the Suns is to get back to complementing their own strengths, rather than compromising them. Dragic and Bledsoe in particular were the engine that led this team to 48 wins in the rugged West -- sooner or later if things don't improve, someone is gonna have to throw them a bone.

The Roundup (click the links for full recaps)

Nov 12 vs Brooklyn Nets, W 112-104

In a game that was eerily similar to the previous matchup with Golden State, the Suns stumbled through 2 1/12 quarters of uninspired basketball before Thomas and Green duo ran away with it in the fourth. This time they combined for 41 points, including 20-21 from the free-throw line.

Nov 14 vs Charlotte Hornets, L 95-103

It's nice being able to say "Charlotte Hornets" again, but it's not that nice. The starters delivered another underwhelming performance, but this time Thomas and Green went 2-13 from the field.

Nov 15 @ LA Clippers, L 107-120

The Suns created an insurmountable hole by surrendering 42 points in the third quarter. The Clippers played a typical Clippers game, which meant 51 points on 25 shots from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and enough petulant antics sprinkled throughout to make you temporarily hate professional basketball.

The Shark Tank

The shark is always circling. Who got bit this week?

"Faster than sharks, so it's no big deal": Goran Dragic is faster than sharks with a steady-if-unspectacular week in which he scored 16.3 PPG on 20/41 from the field. Really he wins this by default since he was the only regular that provided any consistency over the last three games.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat": This Eric Bledsoe/Chris Paul thing should be a compelling storyline, or perhaps even a rivalry. Bledsoe made sure to completely ruin the narrative by being outscored by his former mentor on Saturday, 32-1. One point! Sadly, his ten assists weren't enough to keep the shark at bay.

On The Horizon

The Suns take their struggling act on the road with a slate full of Eastern opponents.

The good news is, the next four teams they play have a combined record of 10-28. Even better news, the Suns were 7-1 against them last season. This seems like a great time to build a bit of mojo, but it also would be an embarrassing stretch of losses if they can't conquer their internal struggles.

Your Phoenix Suns recap of the week that was, plus a preview of the week to come.

The Phoenix Suns are still in a seemingly constant state of flux after 10 games. A five-game homestand didn't provide the desired results, so they'll have to try and find their footing during a five-game Eastern roadie instead.

While all Suns players have had their bright spots so far in the young season, there is still an ingredient missing somewhere, as they have struggled to exhibit the same charm and competitiveness that they were blessed with during the 2013/14 campaign. Possibly the problem isn't quite as mysterious as it might seem.

(All stats from basktball-reference.com)

Last year's roster had a rather simple structure. The starting lineup featured dual scorers in the backcourt with a supporting cast of role players. Consider the usage rate of each starter on the team:

As the usage rates show, their roles on offense were about as simple as they come. Tucker hustled and hit the corner 3, Plumlee rolled hard to the rim, Frye spread the floor for the guards, and Dragic and Bledsoe carried the bulk of the scoring and playmaking.

Put simply, the guards' job was to score, and the other three players were there to make it easier for them. As Walter Sobchak was known to say, "the beauty is the simplicity. Once a plan gets too complex, everything can go wrong."

Funny you should say that Walter, because that's exactly what we're witnessing now.

While the Morris twins have provided steady production as usual, their presence in the starting lineup completely changes its dynamic. Their usage rates have both dropped from last year, but are still significantly higher than that of Tucker and Frye, whom the twins effectively replaced on opening night.

Here is the current starting lineup and each player's usage rate, and keep in mind Dragic's recent comment about there only being "one ball":

Quite the horse of a different color. If it seemed to you like the players on the court were unsure of whom to defer to and when, you weren't losing your mind; the numbers corroborate this. Having four score-first players on the court to start the game has created obvious problems. Factor in the bloated usage rates of Gerald Green (30.6) and Isaiah Thomas (29.1) off the bench, and the numbers become every bit as convoluted as the team looks on the court.

Of course, usage rate only tells part of the story. The real problem with grouping the Slash Bros and the Morris twins is that all four players have suffered a drop in TS% from last year.

  • Dragic, .604 to .541
  • Bledsoe, .578 to .558
  • Markieff, .564 to .518
  • Marcus, .552 to .499

The sample size is duly noted, but the data is consistent across the board. Collectively, these guys can't get out of eachother's way.

Whether it is through trade or a reassignment of roles and responsibilities, the task at hand for the Suns is to get back to complementing their own strengths, rather than compromising them. Dragic and Bledsoe in particular were the engine that led this team to 48 wins in the rugged West -- sooner or later if things don't improve, someone is gonna have to throw them a bone.

The Roundup (click the links for full recaps)

Nov 12 vs Brooklyn Nets, W 112-104

In a game that was eerily similar to the previous matchup with Golden State, the Suns stumbled through 2 1/12 quarters of uninspired basketball before Thomas and Green duo ran away with it in the fourth. This time they combined for 41 points, including 20-21 from the free-throw line.

Nov 14 vs Charlotte Hornets, L 95-103

It's nice being able to say "Charlotte Hornets" again, but it's not that nice. The starters delivered another underwhelming performance, but this time Thomas and Green went 2-13 from the field.

Nov 15 @ LA Clippers, L 107-120

The Suns created an insurmountable hole by surrendering 42 points in the third quarter. The Clippers played a typical Clippers game, which meant 51 points on 25 shots from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and enough petulant antics sprinkled throughout to make you temporarily hate professional basketball.

The Shark Tank

The shark is always circling. Who got bit this week?

"Faster than sharks, so it's no big deal": Goran Dragic is faster than sharks with a steady-if-unspectacular week in which he scored 16.3 PPG on 20/41 from the field. Really he wins this by default since he was the only regular that provided any consistency over the last three games.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat": This Eric Bledsoe/Chris Paul thing should be a compelling storyline, or perhaps even a rivalry. Bledsoe made sure to completely ruin the narrative by being outscored by his former mentor on Saturday, 32-1. One point! Sadly, his ten assists weren't enough to keep the shark at bay.

On The Horizon

The Suns take their struggling act on the road with a slate full of Eastern opponents.

The good news is, the next four teams they play have a combined record of 10-28. Even better news, the Suns were 7-1 against them last season. This seems like a great time to build a bit of mojo, but it also would be an embarrassing stretch of losses if they can't conquer their internal struggles.

This is the first installment of what will be a new weekly segment. Each weekend I will choose a "player of the week" for the Suns, but in addition to posting an article discussing that player's performance there will be an accompanying highlight video. This week, we start with Goran Dragic.

A rocky start is nothing new for Goran Dragic.

Despite the expectations that come with making the All-NBA 3rd team and posting career-high averages in virtually every statistical category, it took a while for Dragic to establish himself as a star last season. During the first nine games of the 2013-14 regular season, Dragic averaged only 15.7 points per game while shooting 45% from the field and 27% from three-point range.

And this year, the numbers through nine games are quite similar: 14.6 PPG on 46% shooting from the field and 28% shooting from deep.

Even so, the Dragon seems to be finding his groove again despite a tough 2-2 week for the Suns. Because the Suns-Clippers game was only last night, it will be factored into next week's article. The only games that mattered for this week happened against Golden State, Brooklyn and Charlotte.

There were plenty of candidates. Dragic, while looking better, is still by no means a transcendent superstar. At least not yet.

Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green led the Suns to two victories over the Warriors and Nets, but both struggled against the Hornets. Eric Bledsoe put up a fantastic performance against the Hornets but was not a major factor in the other games.

Dragic was the most consistent of the four guards, and for that he is the player of the week. In the three games, he averaged 16.3 PPG and 3.7 APG and shot 21-for-39 from the field (54%). Furthermore, after starting out the season missing 11 consecutive three-pointers, Dragic has made 8 of his last 20.

We are still waiting on Goran to churn out his first dominant performance of the season. Last night against the Clippers he put up 15 points in the first half but was unable to maintain that production and finished with 19. Against the Warriors he put up 13 points in the first quarter alone, but once Andre Iguodala was put on him he stopped looking to score and finished with only 19.

And in a way that is the main problem with Dragic; whereas the other guards are often too aggressive, he is too passive. And that is not entirely his fault. The arrival of Isaiah Thomas has put Dragic in a situation where he is not usually the primary ball handler. Without the ability to run plays and create offense both for himself and for others, he is less effective. Dragic's usage rate has dropped from 24.5% last season to 21.3%, and his assist percentage has been cut in half.

Dragic should certainly be applauded for his great performance this past week. And yet, one must wonder if he will have the opportunity to take it a step further and become the player that we fell in love with last season. He's just as efficient, but will he have both the confidence and touches required to single-handedly lead the Suns to victory when they need him to step up?

Because this is an article/video combo, here is the video. It has all of the fancy moves that we have come to expect out of the Dragon; three-pointers, fast break opportunities, step back jumpers, spin moves, and great passes. Here's to hoping that we'll see plenty more of this throughout the year.

Coach Nick from BBALLBREAKDOWN breaks down some of the Suns creative offense.

The Phoenix Suns are Fun. Fast paced, nicely spread and they have that whole potential triple point guard threat going. As Suns fans we all know that or more like we feel it. But others are starting to notice as well. If you haven't heard of him yet, Coach Nick from BBALLBREAKDOWN does video analysis on NBA basketball gameplay. In this video he breaks down some examples of Suns offense, giving us a glimpse into Jeff Hornacek's basketball mind. Need I say more? Just press play.

When you're done watching and want more I recommend you continue with this Suns break down from last year and definitely give this wonderful article on Goran Dragic a read.

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