With a miserable record of 22-42 The Phoenix Suns are not having a great year. Their .344 winning percentage this season is the third-worst in franchise history, only behind the 1987-88 (.341) season and their inaugural 1968-69 (.195) season.
There is an obvious answer to why any team is losing . . . the talent level on the team is not where it needs to be to compete for a playoff berth. However, that is a broad and vague answer that needs to be more narrowly defined. Why are the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns losing?
I would assert that it is because their bench has almost the same talent level as their starters . . . and not in the good way.
The Suns starters this season are averaging 58.8 points per game (25th) in an average of 29.8 minutes per game (21st), according to HoopStats.com.
Things have changed in the last three games where former bench players (Wesley Johnson, Markieff and Marcus Morris) are now starters, along with Goran Dragic and Luis Scola. With this unit, Phoenix averaged 59.3 points per game (20th) in 27.3 minutes per game (26th) for their starters in that span.
The Suns reserves overall this season are 13th in the league in average points scored per game at 35.8 in an average of 18.6 minutes per game (11th).
In the last three games the reserves, with Jared Dudley and P.J. Tucker relegated from starters and Hamed Haddadi filling in for Jermaine O’Neal, along with Michael Beasley and Kendall Marshall, the Suns average 44.7 points per game (5th) in 20.7 minutes per game (5th).
While the numbers could be slightly skewed, because Phoenix had to go to their bench (Haddadi) to get a bigger lineup because Scola (6’9”) is small for a center, the Suns players are interchangeable.
Even for the short term, when it seems like shaking up the lineup helps the bench offense significantly and the starting offense a little, the Suns still went 1-2 with the new lineup.
There is a system problem with the current makeup with the Suns. You can easily make out the best player in the team, which is Dragic, but the rest of the team is close enough to his talent level that none of them are stars that can take the game over when the time comes.
This will be discussed more when the off-season comes, but Phoenix needs to trade Gortat, Scola, Beasley, and a couple smaller players for a lesser center and a superstar, draft somebody like Ben McLemore and sign a couple of good value free agents. This will help them going forward into next year to compete for a postseason spot in the Western Conference.