Maybe it is time to change the tune that is being sung about the sun...

There are always going to be things that you are "not supposed to like" or that are meant to be bad. That happens in life. It goes back to the old adage of not judging a book by its cover, but that is tough in the information age we are in.

In the world of sports the internet has created a bevy of information and a thirst for instantaneous reactions.

With that ideology the consumers of sports, fans and media alike, have a certain stubbornness about them. When an idea or theory starts to show cracks in the foundation of what it was based on, so few will step off the foundation and take a look around. That is a flawed way of thinking that is being tested more than ever this season in the NBA. At the beginning of the season the Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers were projected as the two worst teams in the NBA with win ranges of 16-25 games across many different platforms.

Early in the season the Suns (5-2) and 76ers (4-4) are proving their skeptics wrong as well as the Boston Celtics (4-4) and the Dallas Mavericks (4-3) in testing that theory. They are all winning at a much higher rate than most gave them credit for and look overall like better teams.

It is tough to come full circle with the arena of sports opinions. That conversation has to evolve, which could start here in Phoenix with this team and for the others that have proven to be more than what they were cast off as.

Now, after seven games it is fair to reassess the foundation that predicted the Suns to be a 16-25 win team and create a new theory to ponder:

At what point do we start to say, "This is just a good team?"

Through seven games the Suns are in the most simplistic description a tough disciplined team that rebounds the ball, runs the floor, and has become very opportunistic in the half-court. That is the kindergarten description of the team this year. The more pronounced description is woven finely into the numbers and the eye test watching this team play.

Is this just a good team?

Not necessarily a Championship caliber team, but simply a good team. While the sample size is small, just seven total games (8.5% of the season), the Suns are hanging their hats on the right things early on.

The team is playing defense on the perimeter and at the rim. They tied for sixth in the NBA in both steals and blocks, force turnovers at a good rate (T-15th), and have improved leaps and bounds this season on that end. Having a defensive foundation is the most secure way to win games. What has been most impressive with this team this year on the defensive end is their poise.

"Typically the young guys get panicked and it gets even worse," Coach Hornacek on the teams poise. "Our guys are not doing it and that is a great sign. Usually it takes a couple of years to get the composure and poise."

In the fourth quarter the young Suns have showed resilience as well as poise.

Through these seven games, in every game, the Suns have trailed or led by 5 points or less with under 5:00 minutes remaining. They have played well and done the right things to close out those games as their 5-2 record would suggest. In the fourth quarter the Suns are one of the more opportunistic teams in the NBA this season. They are +5 in total rebounds in the fourth quarter, average 2.4 steals, 1.7 blocks, and have won the fourth quarter consistently.

Eric Bledsoe is a major part of this trend with his 8.7 points per fourth quarter (total), 53% shooting, and a huge game-winner against the Utah Jazz.

It is just six games so it is hard to tell, but I love the direction that we are going. There are no egos here. -Gerald Green

Individual accomplishments aside this is a team effort by the team with strong defense. Right now, through seven games, the Suns are tied for 6th in points allowed (96.0), have the 6th best field goal percentage against (43.0%), they are the 11th best overall rebounding team (44.0) and 10th best defensive rebounding team (27.3). They are playing hard for 24 seconds each possession, contesting shots or blocking them, then ending it with a rebound, unlike last year (19th in rebounding and 26th in points against) where they struggled on the defensive end.

"We can go as far as we work hard," Gerald Green on the team's long-term sustainability. "If we keep working, and just keep striving, and keep just staying humble, listen to each other, and play within the team then we can really go a long ways."

The sample size is small, but when does that argument go away? Ten games in? Twenty? The sample size is good enough to say the Indiana Pacers are a great team because they have equity, that team has proven itself over years of quality play.

For the Suns, this is literally out of nowhere for them.

At the beginning of the season the world all thought the Suns would be at or near the bottom of the NBA. CBS picked the Suns to win between 9-17 games, ESPN had them at 29th in the NBA, and the Bright Side Staff predicted them to fall between 16-30 wins. To be that bad, the Suns are going to have to look in the mirror and go 4-71 the rest of the way to hit the low water-mark of nine wins.

"Our team is kind of like my golf game," Coach Hornacek on his metaphor for this team. "One day I can drive and put and other days I can't chip. Some days I get two or three of the things, hopefully we get games where we put it all together where we execute, play defense, and shoot the ball well, and we will be a good team."

Through seven games that is exactly what the Suns are doing. They are rebounding, playing defense, and getting great output from the offense at the right times. There may not be a superstar on this team, but the team of misfit NBA'ers may not be the case anymore.

Bledsoe went from a back-up, playing 12-22 minutes a night, to very high level point guard. For his position this year Bledsoe is in the Top 5 in points per game (20.9) and the Top 10 in assists (7.3) as well as steals (1.8), which was not happening behind Chris Paul in Los Angeles.

Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee were buried on the Pacers bench and have come out of the gates looking like quality starters on both ends of the floor. They are combining for 25 PPG, 12.9 RPG, and 3.0 SPG with their energy and athleticism.

I think we will be solid. We are not going to get too over our heads and start talking playoffs or anything crazy, we are just playing one game at a time. -P.J. Tucker

The team is still getting great production out of P.J. Tucker with his energy and defensive mind-set. He is one of the leaders on the team this year as one of only three hold overs from last year.

None of these players has done this for a full season, which prompts the critics, cynics, and talk of eventually "they will come back down to earth." That is true. Bledsoe has never led a team for 82 games, Plumlee has never played more than 56 total minutes in a season, Green has never been a consistent option at the wing, and Head Coach Jeff Hornacek has never coached a full season. There is a lot of unproven entities on this team.

Even Markieff Morris, for how great he has been as of late (22.7 PPG 8.2 RPG 69.8% shooting), has never played that way for more than two games let alone four, let alone a season.

"I think we can be successful and be a good team," Goran Dragic told me after the New Orleans win. "We have played seven games, one, or two games against top contenders (Oklahoma and San Antonio) and we played both those games well. We will see when the schedule gets tougher and we have a few games back-to-back."

There will be some tests along the way for the Suns, and every other surprise team this year, but the Suns have already answered a few questions along the way.

This is a fun team that likes playing together. That might get lost in the "Important Factors" debate, but it is an important element to making any team average, good, or great.

"We don't have any superstars" Tucker says about the chemistry. "Everybody is playing together to win and the vibe of our team is unbelievable."

So you can dismiss the Suns because of the sample size, jump on the Championship bandwagon overrating them, or simply evolve the conversation. The internet has created far too many radical opinions to where a change like this is highly unlikely, but if the Suns can change their fortunes as quickly as they have then it is apparent that impossible things are possible.

Time: 8 p.m. MST TV: FSAZ The panic engulfing Portland following the Phoenix Suns’ season-opening win against the Trail Blazers might have said a lot about what Terry Stotts team’s...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Swatting away bad nicknames like Plumlee turning away shots in the paint... Let's get to it!

Remember when nicknames were organic, natural, and sort of just came to be? It was a better time and a time that hopefully we get back to.

In this weeks podcast JimDog and I strip away all credibility of this atrocious nickname that is being forced upon Miles Plumlee, PlumDog. The nickname is so bad that there are not enough words that one could write to fully get across the genuine awfulness of it, so we took 35 minutes or so this week to shed some light and perspective.

We also review the potential flame-out potential of the Phoenix Suns despite the hot start, review last week, and preview the week ahead.

Full Podcast Here: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 45

If you hang around long enough you will get my two minute scouting report on Kansas Jayhawks freshman big man Joel Embiid, because Jim insists.

What does Archie Goodwin's zodiac sign say about him? Is Goran Dragic a good fit astrologically with Eric Bledsoe? These are questions we've all had at various points in our lives and now we have answers. Folks over at wrote an article on Phoenix Suns players based on their astrological profiles I can guarantee you won't read another article like this today.

Guest Post by Hollywood Psychics:

Young Suns

Both Alex Len and Archie Goodwin aren't even of legal drinking age, but these young players have shown enough talent on the court to garner them a coveted spot in the NBA. Alex Len, the 20-year-old Suns center, is a Gemini. Shooting guard Archie Goodwin is a Leo -- and the second-youngest player to enter the 2013 NBA draft at the ripe old age of 19. Goodwin's drive is typical for his astrological sign, Leo. Leos never shy from the spotlight and often ascend to a leadership position at a rapid pace. While most mere mortals assume this constant "Go! Go! Go!" pace indicates that Leo will be quick to burnout, to the contrary, Leo is much happier when the sign is on the move.

As a Gemini, Alex Len also has magnetic leadership qualities. Gemini tends to seem a bit mercurial -- like Leo, he's all-go, all the time -- but Gemini is typically light-hearted while still managing to be laser-focused.

Goodwin and Len are set to become a dynamic duo on the court given the cosmic affinity that Leo and Gemini have with one another. Both are extremely energetic and the two signs play off of one another's optimism. The "Young Suns" are set to shine this season!

An Earthy Influence

There is a strong earth sign contingent on the Suns. Guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, as well as coach Jeff Hornacek are all born under earth signs. This bodes well as these stalwart signs lend a stabilizing influence to their teammates.

Jeff Hornacek, the Suns' new coach, had a storied career as a shooting guard for the Suns, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz. His practical on-court experience may make him a hands-on coach with a solid grasp of the game. His astrological sign of Taurus, ruled by the planet Venus, endows him with a take-charge attitude that's tempered with a mellow, affable streak.

LIke his coach, Goran Dragic is also born under the sign of bull. His fellow Suns guard, Eric Bledsoe is a Capricorn -- one of the most stoic, grounded signs of the zodiac. While Capricorn may sometimes come off as aloof, he has the best interests of others at heart. Bledsoe's cerebral zodiac sign makes him a student of the game who can anticipate his opponents' next move. Taurus and Capricorn work very well together. Both signs are very down-to-earth despite the fact that they hold friends and teammates to meticulous standards. There's a strong level of mutual encouragement that these signs share with one another -- along with a friendly competitiveness that keeps everyone on their toes.

The Team as a Whole

A look at the astrological profiles of these players when taken as a whole yields a team that is poised to play like a well-oiled machine. Younger players like Len and Goodwin stand to learn a lot from their Taurus coach, Hornacek. Their respective Gemini and Leo drives will make them want to prove themselves to their coach and teammates to earn their leadership spots. Under the steady Taurus guidance of Hornacek and the more seasoned Dragic, this may help to craft a new dynasty for the Suns (provided Dragic doesn't keep getting injuries that take him out of the game!).

Leo and Capricorn get along famously, which is evident in the camaraderie between Bledsoe (Capricorn) and Goodwin (Leo) that extends beyond the two teammates sharing a history (and alma mater) as Kentucky Wildcats.

Traditionally, there has always been a bit of a conflicted relationship between Gemini and Capricorn, which does seem to be the one wildcard in the Suns equation. Len (Gemini) and Bledsoe (Capricorn) seem to play well together as teammates, however, in terms of astrological compatibility, Gemini typically looks up to Capricorn who may or may not feel that the Twins live up to the Goat's high standards. However, once these two signs realize they share a common goal - albeit approach achieving it with a different attitude than the other expects -- the two get along just fine.

After applying some astrological knowledge to the Suns' roster, the outlook is indeed a sunny one for the boys in purple and orange. They may not be vying for a championship ring this season, but the young talent bolstered by veteran players may yield a fine future for the franchise.

This article was written for Brightside of the Sun by the folks at Hollywood Psychics. With psychic experts in various specialties, online psychic readings at Hollywood Psychics are a great way to get understandings and insights about your life.

Having problems with premature estimation? Check your sample size. The Phoenix Suns are off to a scintillating start, but what kind of bellwether does seven games provide?

Some of us have done it.  A season starts with fireworks and a person becomes enthralled with the early returns. Optimism and ardor abound.  Then it fizzles out.  Premature estimation.

But it also goes the other way.  Sometimes the early indicators do tell the true story and that passion builds to a rumbling crescendo.

Obviously the latter is preferable.

So, which of these scenarios (completely devoid of innuendo) will the 2013-14 Suns fall into?  Let's look at last season to try to shed some light on the situation...


Here are the standings from last year on November 12th and again at the end of the season.  Let's examine some trends.

Of the 13 teams with winning records on November 12th, 10 made the playoffs and nine ended up with winning records.

Milwaukee (4-3) finished 38-44, Philadelphia (4-3) finished 34-48, Minnesota (5-2) finished 31-51 and New Orleans (3-2) finished 27-55.

Of the nine teams that started at least 5-2 (Milwaukee, Brooklyn and New York did end up with this record), seven finished with winning records and eight made the playoffs. Minnesota and Milwaukee brought up the rear.

These trends seem to adumbrate quite auspiciously for continued success for the Suns this season.

Now let's look at the biggest outlier, Minnesota.  An injury riddled season for Kevin Love sullied their season, as he only managed to play (ineffectively) in 18 games.  But he wasn't there for the hot start.  Ricky Rubio also dealt with injuries, but he also missed the beginning of the season.

So who the hell played for them?

Here are the players who logged minutes on opening night.  Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour, Jose Barea, Dante Cunningham, Chase Budinger, Greg Steimsma and Alexey Shved.  Not exactly a murderer's row, but not completely bereft of talent. Roy was starting, but only lasted five games.  Budinger only made it through six. Pekovic missed two games after the 5-2 start (both losses) and 20 games total on the season. Even AK, who started every game he played in, was out for 18.

The Wolves were basically crippled by injuries and didn't even have a chance to build continuity with players popping in and out (or just out) of the rotation.

Milwaukee just didn't turn out to be a very good team.  They didn't suffer any major injuries and even added J.J. Redick and got a contribution from John Henson as the season progressed.

If the Suns are Milwaukee they won't make the playoffs in the Western Conference.  To be Minnesota it would seem like the team would have to suffer catastrophic injuries.

Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, four teams with losing records after seven games (all 3-4) finished with winning records and made the playoffs.  The Lakers, Warriors, Rockets and Pacers.


But what if we deviate from the lucky (from above) number seven?

First, let me use an example that I haven't seen brought up yet.  The Charlotte Bobcats started last season with a stellar (by their meager standards) record of 7-5.  Then the wheels fell off and they proceeded to lose 18 straight.  How the hell does that even happen?  Charlotte ended up posting a 21-61 record.

Some of you will probably remember the Bobcats third game of the season, a 117-110 loss, against the Suns.  That was the game Shannon Brown drained six three pointers in the fourth quarter, including several that were impossibly difficult, tenaciously defended attempts.  The typically horrible "Cannon" shots that amazingly went in for a change. Dude was unconscious.

The only win that turned out to be signature in nature was against Indiana, but the Pacers staggered out of the gate. Charlotte did beat a couple middling teams such as Dallas and Milwaukee, and had a victory over the Wolves in their seventh game, which put Minnesota at 5-3 and spelled the beginning of the end.

The Bobcats didn't suffer any major injuries.  They just outplayed their talent for a stretch.


Next lets scrutinize the breakdown by the Orlando Magic last season.  Orlando made it to the 25 game mark with a 12-13 record.  In the less than fearsome (after a few teams) Eastern Conference this put them just 1.5 games back from the fifth best record.  They went 3-28 over their next 31 games.  8-49 to finish the season. Their final record was 20-62.

What incited this complete and ignominious failure?  Glen Davis was actually injured right at the 25 game point and missed most of the rest of the season.  Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson both missed some time, but both played through the vast majority of the monumental collapse stage.  Is Davis really worth 20 wins a season all by himself? Or even a couple for that matter?

It seems to me that the losses just piled up a little bit and then things snowballed as the team became demoralized. There was no coaching change or loss of the magnitude of an all-star caliber player.


While these are cautionary tales of becoming fully invested in early returns, the Suns have even more evidence that supports continued good play (although not quite at their current pace).  The team has had meaningful contributions from many different players already sporting individual or multiple games that are close to, or even exceed, career bests.  The team even played through an injury to Goran Dragic without obvious impairment, which supports a train of thought that an injury to a single player, with the probable exception of Eric Bledsoe, may not be debilitating.

At the same time, there are still questions about the sustainability of this level of play, since Bledsoe, Plumlee, Markieff, Marcus and Green are all basically on pace for career years.  It is reasonable to expect at least some fall off from the group as a whole, but to what degree?

Other teams who were slated to be buried underneath the floor of the basement have at least temporarily exhumed themselves in the early going. The Philadelphia 76ers started 4-2, with signature wins over Miami and Chicago, before losing two straight.  Their early schedule has also included Golden St. and San Antonio.  The Boston Celtics, who have also beaten Miami, have won four straight after an 0-4 start... without all-star point guard Rajon Rondo.

The Suns best wins this season are over the Portland Trail Blazers (currently 5-2) on opening night at home and at the New Orleans Pelicans (3-4, but 3-2 against teams not named Phoenix).  The game against the Blazers in Portland tomorrow may be a good barometer of the two teams development since that game.  Other than that they've beaten some bad teams at home (Denver 2-4 and Jazz 0-8) while losing to some really good teams (OKC 5-1 and SA 7-1) on the road.  I think the nature of the road losses makes this complete body of work somewhat impressive, though.

The team's upcoming schedule may leave us wondering for a bit, too, as they play Sacramento (twice), Utah (twice), Charlotte and Orlando in their next 10 games.  It may well be that we still aren't sure a quarter of the way into the season...

And this shouldn't necessarily be a surprise... remember 2009-10?  The Suns started 14-3 (great!) before struggling through a 12-18 stretch (terrible!) and finishing strong by going 28-7 (wow!).  The Suns were basically three teams that season, and that was a damn entertaining season.  Hopefully this one can be closer to that than the last three...

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Summary: Based on a small sample size (seven games) of a small sample size (last season) there is definitely hope that people predicting playoffs for the Suns won't suffer the embarrassment of premature estimation.

Page 964 of 2083


Web Links

Sponsored Ads