Suns.com Key Three of the Week (Oct. 30 - Nov. 3)
Last week the Suns started the season in impressive fashion, winning the first two games at home and giving a Russell Westbrook-having Thunder team all it could handle before losing 103-96.
Different players stepped up in different games (see: Dionte Christmas, Gerald Green), but this is the first of a weekly look at the three best Suns performers over a seven-day span. Consistency becomes a factor, here, and stats may not always tell the story.
With that in mind, here are the top three Suns players from opening night (Oct. 30) through Sunday (Nov. 3).
Coming to Phoenix, the fourth-year guard's value was in his “untapped potential.”Consider it tapped in the new Suns uniforms. Through three games Bledsoe is averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Forget All-Star-worthy. Those are All-NBA numbers.
More impressive than the production itself is the timing in which its delivered. Against Utah, Bledsoe scored 17 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. He took over late again on the road at Oklahoma City.
Through three games, the Suns playmaker has scored 35 of his 66 total points in the fourth quarter, with his field goal percentage peaking in that period.
Oh yeah, then there was that whole buzzer-beater thing.
Nine rookie NBA coaches began their respective careers last week. Hornacek’s 2-1 record is second-best among them, exceeded only by Brett Brown’s undefeated week in Philadelphia.
Hornacek gets a lot of kudos for his demeanor and the way he relates to players. His first week on the job, he showed he has a knack for the actual coaching thing, too. In the opener, he saw Portland was playing their stars and starters heavy minutes and adjusted his rotation accordingly, making sure his own stars remained on the floor to match the Blazers’ production.
After a less-than-stellar first half of half-effort and poor shooting, Hornacek solved both issues by calling upon Dionte Christmas for the first time. The result was a personal 7-0 run and immediate infusion of energy from the 27-year-old rookie.
Finally, Hornacek was professional in both recognizing and admitting an oversight at the end of the loss at OKC. With Phoenix trailing 97-92 with 32 seconds left, Hornacek drew up a play and told P.J. Tucker to foul right away if the Suns scored, regardless of the situation. The offensive set, however, resulted in Gerald Green making a three-pointer in less than three seconds, leaving a five-second differential between the shot and game clocks.
Tucker followed Hornacek’s instruction, which allowed the Thunder to extend their lead back to a two-possession advantage. The Suns head coach acknowledged after the game that he hadn’t anticipated a scenario that left so much time on the clock.
"That was my fault," Hornacek said after the game. "The play we drew up was designed to take a few seconds, probably three or four seconds. I told P.J. going on, if he makes a shot, then foul. We went to a different option and we got [the shot] so quickly we probably didn't need to foul at that time."
After playing all of 55 minutes total last season as a rookie, Plumlee is averaging over 30 minutes through his first three games as a Sun.
The second-year big man has earned every one of them after putting up double-digit rebounding numbers in the first two games. The season opener served as Plumlee’s booming intro, an 18-point, 15-rebound affair. He followed that up with 13 points and 13 rebounds in Friday’s win over Utah. He added three blocks in each of those games.
There’s been no secret to the new starting center’s production. It’s been pure energy and effort, only the most asked-for assets from Head Coach Jeff Hornacek.
Plumlee showed some growing pains in Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City. He picked up two early fouls and struggled to rebound at the same pace with Kendrick Perkins making a pointed effort at boxing him out.