(All stats and records through Jan. 15; for report cards for all 30 teams click here.)
Offense: 102.8, 22nd Overall
Defense: 107.6, 24th Overall
W-L | Pct. | GB
13-27 | .325 | 21
This is a transition to the future on the fly, starting Tyson Chandler and sometimes P.J. Tucker while also investing minutes in T.J. Warren and Marquese Chriss with encouraging moments. Chandler just had at least 15 rebounds in five consecutive games.
The guards handle a large majority of the scoring for a team that wants to play fast, with both starters, Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe, both averaging more than 20 points a game. Bledsoe’s return to health is especially encouraging.
There is no statistical sign of progress, with the team that finished near the bottom in efficiency and shooting defense on track for a similar finish. This just in: Pushing the pace is not rattling opponents.
Alex Len is a shot blocker off the bench, Brandon Knight is another scorer in the backcourt and Jared Dudley and Leandro Barbosa are valuable glue guys to influence young players. Without any one standout, the Suns have a decent group.
If word from above was to spend minutes to develop prospects while playing veterans to try to win, Earl Watson has done well, even without many Dragan Bender sightings. But if this is Watson’s call, it’s time to invest more in the future.
OVERALL GRADE: D
Bledsoe is back, Booker is handling a larger role in the offense, Warren and Chriss have made progress, the Suns are playing hard for a coach in his first full season on the job — it’s easy to find reason for optimism near the bottom of the standings. But this is still a jumbled roster that needs a lot of sorting out, a bad defense and an offense that is so sloppy with the ball.
The front office has the biggest job in the immediate future, needing to commit to the rebuild underway with encouraging showings by Warren, Booker and Chriss, with nothing so far from Bender but still a lot of reason to believe in his future. If the Suns are going to finish last in the West, at least let it be while the prospects gain experience, not while the plus-30 crowd of Chandler, Dudley and Tucker get more than 22 minutes a game.
Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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