USA Today, ESPN Praise Surprising Suns
The Suns continue to win and the media continue to be impressed. Maybe one day the surprise will end.
Until it does, Phoenix basketball remains a hot topic of conversation among NBA circles. They’ve won seven of their last eight and 11 of their last 15, vaulting them to sixth in the Western Conference.
ESPN.com labeled the Suns the top surprise team of the season so far, with Kevin Pelton crediting the team-first effort that starts from the coach’s seat:
Phoenix's overachieving has truly been a team effort; all nine rotation players have exceeded their SCHOENE projections, many of them dramatically so. That points to the role of first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek, who has built an outside-in attack around the skills of guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
USA Today has been similarly impressed by the Bledsoe-Dragic backcourt, which is averaging a combined 37.8 points, 12.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
In a team spotlight published on Sunday, Sam Amick touched on several aspects of the Suns’ success, but pinpointed the Phoenix’s guard tandem as the first domino in the process.
The unique system has made the Suns one of the more entertaining teams around, as they began the week with the league's sixth-ranked offense (106.1 points per 100 possessions). There are other factors coming into play – among them the revival of guard Gerald Green's game, the contributions of big man twins, Marcus and Markieff Morris, and the triumphant return of Channing Frye after he missed of last season with a heart problem. But the potent pairing of Dragic and Bledsoe, above all else, has led to this surprising Suns season.
Amick’s piece is worth a read for the added insight from Goran Dragic, who admitted to not knowing what Bledsoe’s arrival meant for him until Hornacek reassured him of his plans to play both guards together in an uptempo system that would see them on the floor together as well as alternating shifts.
"When I was back in Europe and as soon as I found out, I said, 'OK, I've got competition,'" he said. "In the end, I talked with Jeff, and he told me that probably we were going to play most of the minutes together."