The Suns bring the Heat to the 2019 season
After a summer of trading, resigning and unfortunate injuries, no one had a clear idea what the NBA league would look like during this upcoming season. Would last season’s playoff teams offer another year of competitive performances, and would young players would be ready to lift their team to a new level? Did the Phoenix Suns finally collect enough pieces to move up on the standing? It’s been a few years since the league has been this unpredictable and exciting to watch. A month into the regular season, some teams are doing surprisingly well, and some are disappointing in the same manner. Here’s one team in each conference that you might want to put your bets on.
Heat: Who would have thought, five years after Lebron James left the team, the Miami Heats would return to be one of the most competitive teams in the Eastern Conference, leading the league in effective field goal percentage? Impressively, the team is also doing an incredible job on the defensive side, ranking No. 2 on opponent turnover percentage and No. 6 on defensive rebound percentage.
It might be disappointing to be traded from the 76ers during the summer, but Jimmy Butler had no trouble thrilling in the new system of the Heats, contributing 18 points and seven assists per game. However, the real surprise is the addition of 24-year-old first-year player Kendrick Nunn. Although he offered a rather impressive season in the G League last year, no one expected an “elderly” rookie to become the second most consistent scorer of the team while contributing 1.6 steals per game. If he keeps up the performance, Nunn might be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year.
Suns: If, at the end of last summer, someone told me that the Golden State Warriors would drop straight to the bottom of the Western Conference and the Phoenix Suns would fight its way to the eighth seat, with the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers trailing behind, I would have chuckled out of amusement because of their performance in the past four years. Even more impressive, in the past month, the Suns have already played against some of the most competitive teams in the leagues, including the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers, and it is clear that they are not going to throw in the towel again this year.
Compared to last year, the Suns are doing significantly better on both the offensive and defensive sides. The team saw great improvement in their three-point attempts, consistently putting out more three-point shots than their opponents, with a decent field goal percentage. More players are involved in the offense, as one can tell from the distribution of the field goal attempts and assists, thanks to the addition of Ricky Rubio this season. At the same time, this young team also ranks third at opponent turnover percentage and eighth at defensive rebound percentage. Devin Booker is still one of the best offensive players in the league and is improving every game.
Thank you for checking out my amateur analysis. Next time, we will be talking about those who are doing surprisingly poorly, and, boy oh boy, there are a lot of them.