Coming in to this season, if you weren’t picking the Phoenix Suns to be the worst team in the league, you were probably picking them to be the second-worst team in the league, right after the 76ers. But instead of just sucking things up all over the place, they’ve gone out and won five of their first seven games, joining only the Pacers as teams that have gone undefeated at home among teams with at least four games on their home court. It’s a pretty fun story, especially since the team has been doing it in a pretty fun way — every single one of their games within five points in the final five minutes of the game, while boasting the sixth-best defensive efficiency in the league.
Cool stuff, no doubt, but it’s kind of caught everyone off guard since we all thought the Suns were going to be horrible. It’s been such a surprise, in fact, that even the Suns’ coach is a little taken aback. From Brett Polakoff at ProBasketballTalk:
Even before this one was in the books, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek admitted to being, like the rest of us, a bit surprised by his team’s fast start.
“Am I surprised with the start? Maybe a little bit,” he said before tip-off on Sunday. “Just because when you look at our guys, starting with Miles Plumlee who only played 50 minutes last year, to [Goran Dragic] being hurt, to Eric Bledsoe being a backup (previously). You know these guys are good players, but you don’t really know how it’s going to work when you get out on the court.
“So far these guys have been great — Gerald Green coming in and shooting the ball, Marcus and Markieff (Morris) playing well. So it’s probably a little bit of a surprise, but these guys and these coaches, we think we can win every game we go out there.”
Can you blame Jeff Hornacek for being surprised by his team? First of all, he’s a rookie head coach who couldn’t have had any sort of idea how his coaching ideas would be received, implemented and executed. Not to mention, the team he’s coaching is one of the youngest in the league, has a backcourt that had never played together before, a frontcourt that had never played together before, underwent two big trades in the offseason and is starting a guy named Miles at center. That is a lot of uncertainty to overcome for any coach, let alone one who is learning how to be an NBA head coach.
Of course, this probably won’t last. Markieff Morris probably won’t shoot 63 percent for the season, the Suns probably won’t go undefeated at home, and they probably won’t finish the year Top 10 in defensive efficiency. I mean, the Bobcats were over .500 seven games in to the season last year, only to finish with the second-worst record in the league while ending up in the bottom three of both offensive and defensive efficiency. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a team to start strong, then eventually come back to Earth as the season goes on.
All that being said, let’s enjoy it for now. The Suns are fun to watch, they’re winning and their new uniforms aren’t quite as bad as I thought they’d be (though the shorts are still brutal). Things are looking up in Phoenix, even if it’s just for a little bit.