Say it with me, everyone. The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns are undefeated. What’s that you say? It’s only been three games and we’re still in the preseason? Trifles. For Suns fans, this is probably as close to “undefeated through three games” as it’s going to get. And even though NBA preseason games seem somewhat meaningless, they’re usually a pretty good indicator of what to expect from a given team’s second unit. So far, so good for Phoenix.
Do I think Gerald Green has the potential to be a star one day? No. But have I been pleased with his preseason contributions? Absolutely. In Phoenix’s most recent preseason victory over the San Antonio Spurs, Green started and played 20 productive minutes, going 8-for-15 from the field to the tune of 19 points, three rebounds and two assists with zero turnovers. Again, I’m aware it’s just preseason, but that’s pretty damn impressive for a guy who’s known for regularly making silly mistakes.
Let’s not forget two other big question marks to even make the team during the offseason, Miles Plumlee and Dionte Christmas. Christmas went 0-for-1 in just seven minutes in the Suns’ first preseason game against Maccabi Haifa and didn’t play against the Portland Trail Blazers, but he made the most of extended playing time against the Spurs. In 19 minutes, Christmas tallied 14 points and one steal while shooting 4-of-6 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range. I’ve written at length about the offensive skills Christmas offers, but he finally put them on display against San Antonio.
As for Plumlee, he only managed four points in 12 minutes against the Spurs, but he’s been somewhat consistent throughout Phoenix’s preseason. In the Suns’ first game, he put up seven points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. He then followed that up with nine points and four rebounds in 21 minutes against the Blazers. Nothing spectacular, and he’ll need to continue to improve to ever earn minutes, but Plumlee’s shown that he has some potential.
Overall, it’s been a total team effort from the top of the rotation to the bottom of the bench. In the first game, everyone but Dionte Christmas scored. In the second, everyone except Alex Len and Kendall Marshall scored. And in the third, only Goran Dragic (who went 0-for-3 in eight minutes) scored. Phoenix is out-rebounding its opponents by an average margin of nine rebounds per game. The Suns are also averaging an impressive 10.3 steals per game.
At 3-0, the Suns are one of seven NBA teams undefeated in the preseason. Tuesday night, they’ll play one of the other seven, the Los Angeles Clippers. So far, Lob City leads the league in fewest points allowed by an opponent at 77.5 points per game. In contrast, the Suns are leading the league in preseason scoring at 113.3 points per game. It will be a preseason game between the team with the highest point differential (the Clips, at plus-20.0) and the second-highest point differential (the Suns, at plus-18.0).
Does an undefeated record in the preseason really matter for a team that’s expected to tank the regular season away? Not really. But since the preseason is a decent measure of what to expect from a team’s bench, the balanced contributions of the Suns’ second and third unit shows promise for the future. Everyone except Eric Bledsoe and Alex Len could be expendable, but these preseason games are a good measure of what the Suns have to work with and which young assets they might want to keep around.
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