Phoenix Off to a Hot Start

What's happening in Phoenix?

11/12/13 in NBA   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Nov 10, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe (2) dribbles the ball under pressure from New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the fourth quarter at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY SportsGoing into the season, the Phoenix Suns looked like a guarantee to be fighting for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes.  No player on their roster had ever averaged over 15 points per game through the course of a season, and only three players - Goran Dragic, Gerald Green and Channing Frye - had even averaged over 10 points per game throughout a season (not including their most recent acquisition, center Emeka Okafor, who averaged a career-best 15.1 points per game his rookie season, but has yet to be cleared to play while nursing a herniated disk).
 
Yet despite all the odds working against their favor, the young and unproven Suns have started off the season with a bang, winning 5 of their first 7 games.  They haven’t exactly had the toughest schedule to start out the season, but after winning 25 of 82 games a season ago, 5 out of 7 is something to be pretty happy with.  And their only two losses have been single-digit losses at Oklahoma City and at San Antonio.
 
First year head coach Jeff Hornacek has used a pretty deep bench so far this year with about 10-11 players seeing regular time on the court, but no one has played more - or been more valuable to the team - than offseason acquisition Eric Bledsoe.  In his first year as an NBA starter, Bledsoe has shown no signs of being overwhelmed by the additional responsibility.  In his first three years in the NBA, all with the Los Angeles Clippers, he provided a great boost off the bench, showing a range of abilities, but with Chris Paul at the helm, there was little time to offer Bledsoe, who really doesn’t fit well as a shooting guard.
 
So far this season, Bledsoe has played 34 minutes a game, averaging 20.9 points and 7.3 assists.  Dragic has been his backcourt running mate when healthy and Green has filled in as well.  In the frountcourt, the team has been led by Markieff Morris and Miles Plumlee.  Morris is averaging 17.2 points per game while playing just under 30 minutes and Plumlee has been a nice surprise for the team with his 9.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.  PJ Tucker, Channing Frye, and Markieff’s twin brother Marcus have contributed as well.
 
All in all, it’s been an unlikely cast of characters getting the job done, and the 5-2 record is a pleasant surprise.  The emergence of Bledsoe should really excite the organization, while the solid play from young players like Plumlee and Markieff Morris is further encouragement.  Although their record should level off closer to .500 pretty soon and they’re unlikely to contend for anything more than a 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs, it looks like coach Hornacek has introduced a glimpse of hope in an organization that has greatly lacked an identity since Steve Nash’s departure.  While more wins may keep them away from a top prospect in the highly anticipated 2014 draft class, winning games is always a good thing and they could also have the cap space to land a big signing in the offseason to take them to the next level as well.
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