Suns Boast Double-Dose of Elite Left-Handed Scoring

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by Matt Petersen

When it comes to scouting individual matchups, one variable is always stressed if/when it comes up.

“Don’t forget, he’s left-handed!”

The coach’s tone is often pleading. That fact is supposed to stick out like a sore thumb. If you remember nothing else, remember that the guy you’re guarding favors his left hand.

The emphasis is never enough. Right-hand dominant players are the rule of the day. Most defenders subconsciously accept this and become right-hand defenders. Oh their stance is balanced enough. But the split second they’re not consciously reminding themselves the guy in front of them is a southpaw, it’s too late. The body’s natural instinct betrays them the moment the lefty makes his move.

It’s just as bad if the defender is too honed in on that one aspect of his assignment. At that point, the lefty is free to play into his would-be stopper’s expectations before throwing him completely off-balance with a competent right-handed move.

Goran Dragic takes advantage of this time and again. In his top 10 plays from the season, watch Nos. 8 (goes right until last possible minute), 7 (three defenders favor his right hand the entire time), 5 (completely confuses initial defender), 4 (defender overplays left), 2 (changes hands twice to stay ahead of two defensive attempts on the ball) and 1 (ditto).

It’s a crippling ritual that never dies, and one that has helped the Suns from Gail Goodrich in 1968 to present day.

The latter era will be especially amusing to watch in the coming season. Most teams have some varying version of a top perimeter defender. Ideally, that player will have the discipline to keep a player’s left/right orientation in mind at all times.

But what happens in 2014-15, when that defending ace is marking Dragic – and the Slovenian playmaker simply shrugs and swings it to his high-scoring lefty teammate, Isaiah Thomas.

Answer: a lot of this.

That’s a sinister (“sinistra”, by the way, is Latin for “left”) double dose of portside play that, combined, averaged over 40 points per game last season.

For opponents facing Phoenix this season, every day will feel like Left-Handers Day.