With 15 games done, let’s look at the Suns advanced team numbers to see what is going right and what is going wrong.
At 4-11, the Suns have had a disappointing start to the season. I wanted to investigate the numbers and see where there are positives to pull out going forward for the rest of the season. An initial number to note is that basketball-reference.com is that the Suns expected W-L is 5-10 meaning they have under-performed slightly or been on the bad end of the luck.
First, I want to look at the offensive and defensive rating. The Suns have an offensive rating of 103.4 which ranks 24th and a defensive rating of 109.5 which ranks 25th. Both these numbers are less than ideal.
I put together a chart showing how the Suns’ numbers look compared to rest of league:
The lines represent league average for both offensive (y-axis) and defensive rating (x-axis). A lower defensive rating is better so teams on the left side of the graph is better. Thus the best quadrant to be is the top left and the worst is the bottom right. Sadly, the Suns occupy the worst quadrant.
However, there is hope, as Tyson Chandler has only played in 8 of 15 games. His absence has been due to personal matters and not an injury so assuming he can return to playing consistently the Suns will likely see a strong improvement. The chart below shows the difference with Chandler on vs off the floor
Thus, Chandler being on the floor makes a huge difference for the Suns and his return and consistent playing will boost the Suns to playing closer to a .500 team rather than where they are now. The one positive to Chandler’s absence is the opportunity for younger players like Alan Williams, Dragan Bender, and Marquese Chriss to get more playing time and develop.
The Four Factors
The Four Factors are four advanced numbers identified by Dean Oliver in his book Basketball on Paper. Oliver referenced them as “Four Factors of Basketball Success” and Oliver identified them as keys to success. More information on them can be found here: http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/factors.html
The Four Factors are Effective Field Goal Percentage, Turnover Percentage, Offensive Rebounding Percentage and the Free Throw Rate (FTAs divided by FGAs). I wanted to take a look at where the Suns rank in all these categories. The table below provides a look at the 4 numbers for the Suns offensively and defensively and the league average.
Taking a look at the numbers, there are a couple things that can be taken away. When it comes to the Suns, they are shooting below a league average percentage and they are allowing above the league average on defense. The upside to this is that this number would likely be helped with Tyson Chandler on the floor and the defense he provides.
The turnover percentage is above average both offensively and defensively, these numbers result in a bit of a wash but the Suns are turning it over less on offense which is a positive take away.
The Suns are out-performing the league average both offensively and defensively when you look at the offensive rebounding percentage. In regards to the Free Throw Rate number, the Suns are over-performing on offense but are allowing teams to get to the free throw line even more on the other end of the floor, which could contribute to the Suns being 2-3 in games decided by 5 points or less.
Overall, looking at the numbers show that while the Suns are under-performing so far this season, there are quite a few positives to be found in the numbers. Also, the return of Tyson Chandler, whenever it occurs, will bring a boost in play.
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