5 New Year's Resolutions for the Phoenix Suns

Roberto PayneContributor IDecember 28, 2012

5 New Year's Resolutions for the Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns should have several resolutions, as the New Year is right around the corner.

    The team has been struggling mightily, and the New Year would be the perfect time to work on some of the bad habits picked up this season.

    For the Suns, that equates to working on aspects such as rebounding, defense and shooting.

    Read on for five New Year's resolutions for the Phoenix Suns and how the team could go about executing these resolutions.

     

    All statistics and figures used in this article are accurate as of 12/27/12

Shoot Better from 3-Point Territory

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    The Phoenix Suns have long been synonymous with three-point shooting, but the past two seasons have been extremely disappointing in this regard.

    Merely three seasons ago, the Suns shot 41.2 percent from deep, good enough to be the best in the NBA.

    This season, the Suns are down to 34.9 percent from three-point territory, which qualifies for 19th in the league.

    The reason for this radical change is quite unique.

    It's easy to look at the current roster and say there aren't enough three-point shooters, but in reality, there are plenty.

    The real problem is the lack of a consistent low post game.

    Looking back at that 2009-10 Phoenix squad, Amar'e Stoudemire dominated the paint. He was feared by the opposition and was the last consistent low post threat the team has had.

    This year's, Phoenix team has only one true low post player in Marcin Gortat, and he hasn't been nearly as consistent as he should be.

    That threat of a low post scoring option requires the defense to sink in to the paint and guard the basket. Thus three-point shooters are more open and can take uncontested shots from deep.

    This was a staple of the Steve Nash Phoenix squads, and there's no reason why the team post-Nash should be any different.

    For the New Year, the coaching staff would be wise to stress the importance of knocking down three-point shots.

Defend Better

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    The Phoenix Suns have never been a fantastic defensive team, and this season isn't any different.

    The Suns are in the bottom five of the NBA in opponent points per game, opponent field-goal percentage and opponent three-point percentage.

    Phoenix is giving up 100.8 PPG, bad enough for sixth-worst in the entire NBA.

    Causes for this can be attributed to poor individual defenders and a general lack of solid defensive concepts.

    Looking at Phoenix's roster, only Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O'Neal, Sebastian Telfair and P.J. Tucker can qualify as above-average defenders.

    Couple that with inconsistent team defense, and the Suns just don't have a solid defensive foundation.

    However, the opponent points per game is not as disturbing as the the opponent field-goal percentage and opponent three-point percentage.

    Phoenix is allowing opponents to shoot 47 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the three-point line.

    In the last decade, only two teams (2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2008-09 Sacramento Kings) have managed to allow opponents to shoot over 40 percent from both the field and three-point line.

    If the stats kept consistent for the remainder of the season, this Phoenix team would the third.

    This is simply not going to win many games for the Suns.

    In my opinion, the coaching staff has begun to value defense more and is heading in the right direction, as shown by the increased playing time for P.J. Tucker and Sebastian Telfair.

    However, there still seems to be a lack of quality team defense on this team. 

    For the New Year, the Phoenix Suns should make a serious effort to sharpen up the defensive side of the ball.

Find a Go-to Scorer

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    It's no secret the Phoenix Suns don't have a go-to scorer on the roster, but someone has to step up and fill the role to the best of their abilities.

    I'm not saying this player has to develop into a 20 PPG scorer but it's clear the team needs someone to take charge when a bucket is needed.

    Prime candidates to fill this void include Shannon Brown, Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat.

    Of the three, Brown is the purest scorer, but can be inconsistent at times.

    Gortat is the team's best low-post scoring option, but he too is inconsistent and has seen his touches decline in recent weeks.

    Dragic is already leading the team in scoring, has the ball in his hands the most and is probably the most realistic option to lead the team.

    The main problem with Dragic is his habit of passing up open shots.

    It doesn't help the team when the best scoring option on the team doesn't shoot open shots. This is even more true considering the other players on the team aren't shooting extremely well.

    For the new year, it would greatly benefit the Suns if Dragic stepped up to the role of a go-to scorer.

Rebound Better

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    Rebounding is yet another area that Phoenix has struggled with over the years, and that has been evident so far this season.

    The team is averaging 39.7 rebounds per game, which is bad enough to be fourth-worst in the league.

    It's obvious there aren't an abundance of rebounders on the roster, but guys have to step up and rebound better.

    Specifically, the wing players on the team have to chip in more on the glass.

    Currently, the big men (centers and power forwards) get 24.6 of the 39.7 rebounds per game.

    That's a fairly large amount of the team's rebounding.

    The leading wing (point guards, shooting guards and small forwards) rebounder is Michael Beasley with 3.7 RPG.

    By comparison, the New York Knicks average 39.6 RPG, but only 20.3 of those rebounds are secured by their big men.

    From what I've seen of Phoenix this season, the problem area seems to be boxing out.

    Far too often, players watch the ball instead of finding a man and boxing out, which is about the worst thing one can do while rebounding.

    For the new year, Phoenix wing players (Beasley, Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley and P.J. Tucker) need to crash the glass more.

    It does the Suns no good if only the two big men are rebounding.

Solidify the Rotation

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    The Phoenix Suns have struggled mightily this season, and one reason for this is the lack on continuity on the roster.

    The coaching staff has already been forced to change up the starting lineup several times, and the team isn't winning.

    As a result, seven different players have started 10 or more games for the Suns.

    Chief among the inconsistent players are Michael Beasley, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola.

    Scola and Gortat have been off and on all season, but they can at least show decent stats that contribute to the team.

    Beasley, on the other hand, has severely hurt the team.

    He was supposed to be a top scoring option for the team, but has greatly struggled, and even lost his starting spot to Jared Dudley.

    This wouldn't be an issue if a bench player was underperforming, but it certainly is when expected starters don't play well.

    For the New Year, the Suns could really use more consistent play from those expected to produce.