The Phoenix Suns’ start to the season was certainly memorable, if not all that successful. Steve Nash had roughly one bajillion turnovers in his efforts to keep the Suns’ offense up to snuff, but Phoenix completely fell apart in the fourth while the Blazers attacked from all angles. Hedo Turkoglu was even worse defensively than you’d expect, as his nonchalance enabled Nic Batum to play the hero for Portland. Then, there was the rebounding.
Oh, the rebounding.
These Phoenix Suns have the potential to be one of the most truly awful rebounding teams we’ve seen in some time. We’re but one game in and it’s hard to imagine things getting much worse for Phoenix on the glass…so they have that going for them. Nowhere to go but up, I suppose, or at least vaguely up in some slightly elevated slope. The Blazers had 18 offensive rebounds, good for an otherworldly .438 offensive rebounding rate (meaning the Blazers grabbed 43.8% of available rebounds while on offense). That mark would easily have led the entire NBA last season, and Phoenix’s correspondingly low defensive rebounding rate would have been far and away the worst in the league.
It’s unfair to predict the Suns’ rebounding performance on this game alone (Portland, after all, was an elite team last season on the offensive glass), but with Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, and Robin Lopez — all relatively poor rebounders — playing the majority of the “big” minutes, Suns fans should get used to these kinds of nights. The Suns’ defensive deficiencies also fueled their rebounding woes, as attempts to hide Steve Nash on defense ended up with some unfortunate cross-matching. It’s no coincidence that Batum, who had Nash defending him as a product of Alvin Gentry’s scramble to find an effective defensive orientation, grabbed five offensive boards.
The Suns’ weaknesses seem to flow into each other; their defensive problems beget rebounding problems, and their rebounding problems beget more defensive problems, forever and ever, amen. All of this means that while Phoenix may not be quite this bad on the glass every night, they still be regularly awful throughout the season.