Does Suns' offense set in Detroit?

Essentials

  • Teams: Phoenix Suns (7-8) at Detroit Pistons (4-11)
  • Date: November 28, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After winning in Cleveland last night as part of their east coast swing, the Phoenix Suns will make their way to the Palace tonight to take on the Detroit Pistons in what promises to be an interesting showdown.

Alvin Gentry coaches the offensive side of the ball a little differently than most teams in the NBA and it’s both entertaining and intriguing to look at. Indeed, the Suns aren’t a basketball team that relies heavily on isolations or star power, which is how most teams go about their business in the league.

Instead, the Suns prefer to put five players on the floor that are all scoring threats in their own way and allow them to flourish within the flow of the game.

At first glance, an observer would be inclined to believe that Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat are the team’s two main offensive cogs, but such isn’t exactly the case; it’s a bit more complicated than that. A lot of Phoenix’s offense is predicated on the high screen-and-roll between Gortat and Dragic and then the Suns just take whatever it is the opposition gives them as a result of their defensive rotations.

Thus, Marcin Gortat isn’t your prototypical big man; he is more so a version of the modern NBA center that relies on ball movement to catch and finish at the rim as opposed to post up plays. MySynergySports tells us that only 22.3 percent of Gortat’s field goal attempts come from post ups. And in those situations, it’s often because he caught a defender in a switch and sealed him off for a deep paint catch.

Most of his offense comes as a roller in the pick-and-roll or from cutting to the basket.

Because Gentry preaches ball movement, every player gets to touch the ball and make decisions with respect to where it should go next; whether it’s hitting the open man or taking the shot themselves.

It’s an interesting mix of shoot first players combined with team first guys that make the team function offensively as best it can.

Take Michael Beasley as an example, when he catches the ball he is often looking to put the ball up, either off the bounce for a drive at the rim or via the use of his jump shot. But he meshes well with Luis Scola that loves to take open shots from the elbow or feed cutters going to the basket.

In addition, both Scola and Beasley give the Suns post up options, especially against defenders that fail to pay attention to scouting reports.

Further exacerbating matters for opponents, Gentry likes to play Jared Dudley off the bench — he was a starter earlier in the year — to space the floor but also to keep the flow of the offense going because he understands his limitations and thus rarely forces up bad shots. Dudley either takes the open jumper or swings the ball to the open man.

Conversely, Shannon Brown can be an offense facilitator, but is much more at ease taking the ball to the rack.

This all works because Goran Dragic is a good scorer out of most situations on the court, but also because he is a willing passer. The Suns’ primary ball handler will take the burden of the offense on his shoulders, but he will also consistently get the ball to the wings and allow his perimeter teammates to create for themselves or others; also he will feed his big men where appropriate for them to get easy scores.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Phoenix Suns is that they play at a fast pace (sixth fastest in the league) but are a patient team. They might run multiple pick-and-rolls on the same possession in order to get the best possible shot.

They are truly a fun team to watch execute on the offensive end because they favor team play above all else and find simple and yet effective ways to score.

The Detroit Pistons’ defense will be forced to make some tough decisions tonight about how to defend the Suns, because they’re not quite like anything they’ve seen this season.

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