It is obvious that the Suns are not doing well this season apart from the signature wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles teams, Phoenix hasn’t beat those teams in the “bad” category that the Suns are now entering.
This is because of the talent level…but what exactly about the talent? Player efficiency rating (PER), usage rate, true shooting percentage, and other more advanced metrics can show how players are contributing to the game. Or, in the case of some of the Suns, how they are having a detrimental effect on the team’s overall performance.
Player Efficiency Rating
According to ESPN, the Player efficiency rating statistic is “the overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. The league average is 15.00 every season.”
The Suns are not very efficient. Their player with the highest PER is Jermaine O’Neal’s 17.58. That is 41st IN THE WEST. That is our back-up center that is the most efficient. He takes the EIGHTH-MOST shots on the team! So there are seven more players on the team who take more shots and are less efficient.
Goran Dragic is 49th in the West with a PER of 16.91, Luis Scola is 59th with a 16.26 PER, and Marcin Gortat is 70th with a 15.64 PER. That is all the players the Suns have above the average player’s 15.00 PER, with none of them above 18. For reference, Lebron James (30.98) and Kevin Durant (28.42) have efficiency ratings almost double most of the Suns’ players and play more minutes. Michael Beasley, who is known for being inefficient, is 138th with a 10.58 PER on the West list.
The metric, usage rate, is technically, “the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes,” with a whole formula attached to it. It is more commonly seen as a test of how often a player dominates the ball in a game adjusted for the pace of the games, and other factors.
It is no surprise that Beasley is atop the Suns list in this category and 11th in the NBA, even though almost all the other players in the top 20 are superstar starters that dominate the ball, because they are the best players on their respective teams. Beasley is not a super star and is one of the only players in the top 30 to have such a high usage-rate that comes off the bench.
He is chucking up shots with such regularity, but not converting on enough of them(see his true shooting percentage below).
Dragic is 32nd on that list with a usage rate of 21.9 with Luis Scola right behind with 21.7. Shannon Brown is the only other player for the Suns in the top 50 with a usage rate of 20.9, but those numbers were acquired back when he was playing regular minutes for Phoenix.
True Shooting Percentage
The true shooting percentage is “what a player’s shooting percentage would be if we accounted for free throws and 3-pointers.”
As you would expect there are a lot of big men in a shooting percentage category because almost all of their shots are assisted, easy and right at the basket. However, there are some interesting exceptions before we get all the way to the Suns players down on the list.
Kevin Durant is 5th in the league in TS% at .645 and the only other one other than LeBron James in the 10th spot that shoots three-pointers. One of the ways you know a great player over a good player in terms of shooting is how efficient they are. Any good player can chuck up a bunch of shots and score a lot of points. The great ones do it efficiently.
Jared Dudley is in a four-way tie with Manu Ginobili, Vince Carter, DeShawn Stevenson for 52nd on the list with a .579 true shooting percentage. Jermaine O’Neal is next in the 90th spot with a .559 TS%.
How are Marcin Gortat and Shawn Marion tied for 124th in TS% at .543? Gortat is four inches taller, 12 pounds heavier, and plays closer to the basket. Gortat needs to finish his shots in the paint better.
Beasley’s TS% is NOT good. He is 309th with a true shooting percentage of .457.
These advanced metrics don’t tell you anything that you don’t already know. However, they do explain and give you a more concrete understanding of how desperately the Phoenix Suns need a superstar that can contribute in all facets of the game, scoring with efficiency and consistency, while getting his teammates involved.