Notebook: Plumlee Stands Out, Morris' Progress and Dragic's Optimism
To say that Miles Plumlee's early season production is surprising might be the understatement of the year.
The Suns' big man has come out of nowhere, with "nowhere" taking on the definition of the bench. Of the 20 top rebounders in the league heading into Tuesday night's game, Plumlee is the only one that didn't start a single NBA game last season.
His 9.3 rebounds per game are not only astronomically better than last season's output (1.6 rpg in just 3.9 minutes per contest), but after tonight he will likely more than quadruple his total rebounds from a year ago. He currently has 84 total rebounds after logging just 22 in 2012-13.
Morris Twins Doing Work on 'D'
The Suns brothers are both averaging career highs in points per game, but it's their defense that has taken the biggest leap forward according to Head Coach Jeff Hornacek.
“I think defensively is where these guys have taken strides," he said. "They’re helping each other out. They’re reading what’s going on. Today in practice both of them got their hands on a lot of balls, got a lot of deflections. That’s because they were anticipating things happening. I think in the past they didn’t do much of that.”
The active hands and deflections have resulted in plenty of steals and, subsequently, helped jumpstart the Suns' league-leading 23.4 fast break points per game. Markieff (1.9 thefts per game) joins DeJuan Blair and Anthony Davis as the only post players in the league's top 20 steals men. Marcus isn't far behind at 1.3 steals per contest.
Dragic Knows Tough Losses
The Slovenian guard saw enough unhappy endings to games in his first few years to know how last week could affect the rest of the team. He was one of the team's key bench players when Phoenix lost a conference finals game on a tip-in at the buzzer in 2010.
With lessons like that under his belt, last week's back-to-back, one-possession losses had him more concerned about the younger players than himself.
“When you’re young it’s tough, because it’s a different game," he said. "It’s so many games and of course you put a lot of pressure on yourself. If you have a bad game, you’re thinking too much. Now I changed too. I know what happened last game, I cannot fix it. I cannot change the outcome. I can just practice and try to get better and try not to do the same mistakes I did last game.”
His teammates, however, seemed to respond well, having what Jeff Hornacek deemed two "really good days of practice" before heading off to Sacramento.
Speaking of Which...
While Suns (5-4) and Kings (2-7) appear to be in completely different positions, Hornacek sees a lot of similarities between the two teams heading into their home-and-home series this week.
“In a way they’re similar to us," he said. "When we’re winning our games and playing well, it’s the bench games that are making the difference. The starters are doing a good job, but then the bench guys give us a big lift. I think they’r ea very similar team. They go on runs where they score a lot of points, all of the sudden they go on dry spells. We’re trying to get consistent and we’re probably pretty similar teams.”