The Suns were 28-15 last season when Eric Bledsoe was in the lineup playing alongside Goran Dragic, and even though he missed 39 games due to injury, Phoenix still managed to finish the season with 48 wins, and came within a single game of making it to the playoffs.
In the offseason, the team seemed to bolster its backcourt options even further, by adding another dynamic point guard in Isaiah Thomas, who was coming off of a year in which he averaged 20.3 points per game, primarily as a starter for the Sacramento Kings.
The adjustment period has been a bit rocky, however, with the Suns getting off to just a 6-5 start. Dragic believes that having too many players who are all used to being primary ball-handlers has been a main factor in the team’s slower-than-expected start.
The Suns system is designed to find the closest point guard to start a fast break, with the other running ahead. In the half-court sets, the ball is supposed to move crisply to emphasize which side of the court has a mismatch.
Why has that not clicked?
“Because there’s only one ball and we’re all point guards,” Dragic said. “That’s an easy answer.
“It’s hard. That’s sacrifice. If Isaiah’s playing well, he’s going to stay in. Me and Eric, it depends who is playing better and who is going to be on the court. The other guy is going to be on the bench. It’s the way it is. We need to embrace that.”
The distribution of minutes isn’t drastically different with Thomas in the fold; both Dragic and Bledsoe are down only slightly in that category in terms of their per-game averages from last season.
A bigger factor in the team’s early struggles may be the loss of Channing Frye in free agency, who spaced the floor offensively with his ability to knock down the three-point shot, thereby opening up lanes for whomever was handling the ball to create opportunities with dribble penetration.
It’s not a bad thing to have three playmakers getting heavy minutes in the rotation, and the Suns are likely to eventually figure things out. But there will be an adjustment period, as Dragic (somewhat candidly) mentioned.