Coach Williams' Core Values Link Directly to Suns Early Success

Culture. Show Up On Time. Defend. Compete. Share The Ball. Gratitude.

When you walk into the Phoenix Suns locker room, each of these words and phrases have been hung up in bold letters directly facing the players’ lockers. Head Coach Monty Williams and General Manager James Jones broke down what they expect out of the team each and everyday and worked to develop these core values heading into the season.

“James and I talked a lot about the kind of program we want to run,” Williams said. “I've been away from this position for a few years and so I've had a chance to talk to different leaders of companies, sports teams, moms and everybody has core values.”

While the phrases may seem simple, the repetition of each action can be linked directly to the success the team has seen during their 4-2 start.

CULTURE: The Valley Boyz.

SHOW UP ON TIME: The clear preparation entering each game.

DEFEND: The Suns currently rank seventh in the NBA in defensive rating and fourth in steals per game.

COMPETE: Outside of their four wins, the two loses the team has endured have been each by only one point, one being in overtime.

SHARE THE BALL: The Suns currently rank second in the NBA in assists with 28.3 per game.

GRATITUDE: The Suns are staying level-headed, coming out with the same passion every game and enjoying the victories along the way. 

“We just decided to put something together that the players can hang on to and hopefully establish an atmosphere that would allow them to be the best they could be,” Williams said. “I wouldn't say I came up with all of it. In my conversations with James, we just wanted to develop a program and that was what we came up with.”

However, the core values aren’t the only phrases sticking with the players. Coach Williams has implemented other phrases such as ‘0.5’ and ‘Whole Team Up’ and the team has all rallied around them.

“I'm thankful that they listen,” Williams said. “That's number one. They don't have to listen.”

Not only are they listening, but they’re reiterating these phrases regularly and have made each one of them part of their everyday vocabulary.

The players have been discussing ‘0.5’ since the beginning of training camp as a. type of system that calls for faster pace and quicker decision making. 

“You either shoot it, pass it or drive it,” Williams said. “Just don’t hold the ball. It has to happen in 0.5 seconds. I just want them to play with pace and play together. ‘0.5’ is just a way to play faster… For me, it’s a free way to play basketball.” 

The ‘Whole Team Up’ mentality only started a few weeks ago, but has been instrumental in the Suns perseverance to overcome missing pieces due to suspension, injury or foul trouble. While most coaches would preach ‘Next Man Up’, Williams turned to the entire team to step up instead of just one individual.

“We don't have anybody on our bench that's that caliber of player where they're just going to step up and come in and score 25, 30 and save the day,” Williams said. “It's like our team has to step up and we've preached that from day one that it's a team deal for us. We know Devin has the ability to take over a game, but I'm not going to put all that on his plate. I think it's about our team, game plan, discipline, knowing that if we don't show up as a team, we’ve got no shot. If we don't play hard as a team, we don't have a shot.”

The core values on the wall, the ‘0.5’ system and the ‘Whole Team Up’ mentality each give a little more insight into the coaching style and development strategy Coach Williams has brought to Phoenix. 

“I think our guys have been willing to adopt some of the nutty phrases that I come up with or the coaches come up with, but it is important to repeat them,” Williams said. “It is important that they repeat them to other people because that means they're listening. It's just a part of our program. Our program starts with the kinds of players that James brought in and the ones that are still here. Good guys, love to work, competitive. They're giving us a chance to build something.”

The Suns are off to their best start since 2015 and much of it has to do with the players buying in to Coach Williams’ philosophies and working together to battle out these victories. The team will face their toughest task thus far on Monday as they tip-off against the undefeated Philadelphia 76ers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.