The Phoenix Suns are second behind the Golden State Warriors in the west, but last year’s finalist does not really get noticed. Still, the Suns have now won twelve games in a row. We look at a few reasons for the current winning streak.

At the beginning of a season, the focus is usually on the newly formed teams. Everyone wants to see how Russell Westbrook works at the Los Angeles Lakers, how Kyle Lowry takes the Miami Heat to another level, how the new Bulls spark a euphoria in Chicago. On the other hand, it was very quiet about the two finalists from the previous year. Neither Milwaukee nor Phoenix changed much in the roster, so they are rarely talked about at the moment.

True to the motto: “We know who you are and what you can do”. This is understandable, especially with a long 82-game season. So no one was seriously worried that the Wisconsin champion was now 4-6 and 6-8.

At the Suns, too, the start went a little in the pants, three of the first four games went bad. And since then? The Suns competed in twelve games, emerged victorious twelve times and once again made themselves comfortable behind the Golden State Warriors in the top group of the West.

What is it all worth? First of all, it shows that the Suns are doing their homework. Otherwise there was only a comparison with a team that was loud Cleaning the Glass is in the top 10 in the net rating. The Suns are loners in this regard. Nevertheless, we would like to take a look at some trends at this point and discuss why the Suns function like a perfectly oiled machine, as they did last year.

1. The Suns win even without Deandre Ayton

The contract situation around Deandre Ayton was considered a possible problem before the season, so far nothing has been noticed. The center is a little more constant than last year, when it really exploded in the playoffs. Even in 2021/22 there are always small dents to be found, but all in all there are fewer games in which Ayton comes across as phlegmatic.

Nevertheless, the Big Man missed six games with a leg injury and his new deputy also knew how to shine during this phase. JaVale McGee is a backup that the Suns didn’t have last year and that was missing in the finals. A classic reserve fiver and not an embarrassing solution like first Dario Saric and later Frank Kaminsky.

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You have to reckon with a few dropouts from time to time, but McGee is also a good ring protector at 33 years old, who can also move his legs reasonably well. According to Cleaning the Glass the Suns allow almost 9 points less per 100 possession of the ball with McGee than without him. With Ayton, however, the tables are turned.

By the way, that’s not surprising, even in the preseason the lineups were better without Ayton than with him. In principle, that doesn’t mean anything, the center of the Bahamas proved its worth for the team in the playoffs.

With McGee, however, the Suns have made another useful addition that not only pays off in defense. The three-time champion continues to be one of the best alley-oop face-off partners, which is valuable when you have a Chris Paul in your own ranks.


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