Vol.2, Iss.11: The Suns Top Shots
Which Phoenix players shoot the best from certain spots on the floor and how do they get their looks?
Hello Old Friends…..
It’s been a little while, so apologies for the delay but have had a bit going on recently. The Suns continue to chalk up the W’s though, which will keep dragging me back to the Newsletter as much as I possibly can. So thanks for continuing to come back with me and also sharing with your Suns pals. If you’re new here, please feel free to subscribe below.
Let’s Open Some Packs…..
You may have heard about NBA Top Shots this season. If not, there is a fairly comprehensive summary you can read - here. I’ll be honest, I get it but I still don’t REALLY get it. I haven’t purchased a moment or a pack, and I can’t see that changing.
The good news is - whether you know all about it or nothing at all, that won’t impact your understanding of this Issue in the slightest. Because really, it has nothing do with the new NBA phenomenon. Psych!
In reality, I wanted to do a mini deep dive into which Phoenix Suns players are the most efficient from various sectors of the NBA Hardwood. And from there, take a look at how Monty Williams and his crew make the most of certain players favorite spots on the floor.
It’s almost as if you could say this Newsletter will be a look at the Suns Top Shots. Which it is. And that’s why it’s called exactly that.
So What Are The Suns Top Shots?
Before I bore you with all the details, below you will see what I have classed as the Suns best options from different sectors on the NBA floor. These are 12 of the 14 options tracked on NBA dot com, via their neat shot chart functions. As for the 2 missing, we will address that in a little bit.
There are just 6 different Phoenix players mentioned - Cam Johnson, Cam Payne, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Langston Galloway and Mikal Bridges. These guys dominate the offensive efficiency numbers (some more than others) despite it being a mix of all 3 levels of scoring - from outside the arc, inside the paint and all the good stuff in between.
Now this is where we get to the methodology. I promise to keep it short. But if you are just all about the visuals, then feel free to skip to the GIFs below after you have taken in the graphic above.
There’s a catch! The players shown above aren’t technically just the guy with the highest shooting percentage in each sector. You may disagree but I felt that wouldn’t truly illustrate the most efficient scorers from all over the court. Instead, I wanted to factor in volume to ensure we were rewarding the Suns players who were being asked to shoot more often than some of their teammates.
Rather than choose an arbitrary number of minimum shots to apply across all 12 sectors, I decided to try come up with a formula that at least tried to account for the different volumes the Suns went at from different spots on the floor. In all honesty, what I landed on isn’t exactly the most scientific formula but I believe it does the job.
As you will see below, I took the number of shots the whole team had taken from each sector and simply divided it by the 17 players who have logged a minute for the Suns this season. That leaves us with a minimum amount of shots needed, in order to qualify as the most efficient shooter from a certain sector. It is also the part of the process where 2 sectors were just eliminated entirely due to the low volume from the whole team.
The reds are the higher percentages who did not qualify, with the green the most efficient shooter while also surpassing the minimum threshold.
But let’s get to the fun part shall we? Let’s open a few different packs and take a look at how the Suns get some of these Top Shots. Focusing purely on games that have been played since we last spoke.
The Threes Pack - A Mixed Bag
From the corners, to the wings or even directly straight on. These 5 sectors from deep produce 5 different player Top Shots. Going in a counter clockwise direction from the left corner; Galloway, Paul, Payne, Bridges and Johnson.
Let’s start with Langston. The left corner is his domain, where he shoots 66.7% currently. Much better than the 29.2% he is producing from the opposite side. Now 15 attempts isn’t a huge sample size but it’s only 2 less than his total FTAs so far this season. Where he is yet to miss, by the way.
Quick shoutout to Book too - who is also above 60% from this spot on the floor.
Moving on to CP3. The left wing is by far his best region from deep, possibly because he shoots 46% on catch & shoot attempts like the one below. He barely edges out Jae Crowder from making his solo entry into these Top Shots from the left wing.
Shout out back to Galloway too - who is 7/10 from here but didn’t qualify.
Did you know Cam Payne shoots over 60% on passes from Booker? Absurd. It’s one of the reasons he leads this sector from the top of the key. That and because it’s just not an overly strong sector for the team in general. Payne is only making 31% of his total pull up threes, like the one below. But he likes it from straight on it seems.
In fact, the 45% he shoots from here is only 1% shy of the attempts he makes at the rim. Albeit a slightly smaller sample size.
I know we’ve been waiting for a Mikal Bridges nickname to really stick, so I’ll throw a new one into the mix. Mr. Conservative. Not only does it suit the way he plays but Mikal also does his best work from the right wing. Ba-dum-tss! He is currently making half his shots from here on a fairly decent volume.
Shout out to a guy who is likely more appropriately coined Mr. Conservative - Frank Kaminsky - who is shooting 10/19 from this spot and just missed the cut.
If the left is Langston’s corner to setup shop on, then the right is certainly Cam Johnson’s. Cam is making over 50% of his shots from here and we aren’t talking low volume either. Johnson has taken over 100 total corner threes, so far this season.
Not that he needs it but shout out to D-Book again. He’s over 60% on this side too.
The Middy Pack - A.K.A The Paul & Booker Show
Unlike the previous pack, this unveiling features just two guys; CP3 and D-Book. The two masters of the mid-range dominate from these 5 sectors and get to their spots in a variety of ways.
Believe it or not - down on the left block is currently Paul’s most efficient shot on the floor. He catches opposing defenses unaware and currently makes over 60% of his shots from just outside the paint on the left side.
It might be rubbing off on his backup too! Payne is actually an even better 61.5% from the same sector but on a slightly smaller volume.
While Chris Paul might prefer to snake his way to the right elbow - don’t get it totally twisted - he can go left too. It only happens half as much and he isn’t quite as efficient, but CP3 still leads all other teammates from here.
Devin Booker is Paul’s only serious competition from this spot on the floor - shooting 46% compared to the Point God’s 50%. Keep trying young buck!
The young understudy owns the middle though. The D at the top of the key may as well stand for Devin. Or should I say D-Book. Don’t call him Devin. 60%. I’d suggest it’s his favorite spot on the Suns Valley floor. Or all floors for that matter. Flawed? Nope. Floored? Yep.
There’s really no competition here either. Look back up at the chart above. The only guys that come close from an efficiency standpoint, have taken less than 10 total shots from here between them. That’s right, between them. Book has 25 on his own.
Okay, the right elbow. Ya’ll know what time it is. A Chris Paul masterclass. To be perfectly honest, 60% feels low. I never feel like he’s missing from here. And the volume is nuts, so there should be no questions about how sustainable it is either.
There’s really no point mentioning anyone else from this spot, so I will leave you with this instead. This is a more efficient shot right now than the following Suns players inside the restricted area; Carter, Crowder, Galloway, Kaminsky, Moore, Nader, Payne, Saric, and Paul. That’s right, even the man himself is better off taking this shot than something inside a few feet.
Book gets one back on the right block, and at triple the volume of Paul on the left. Over 52% on 60+ shots - it’s fair to say Book loves him some designed plays from this side of the floor.
Quick shoutout to Deandre here, too. He is hitting half his attempted shots after being posted up on the right block and seems to like the right slightly more than the left.
The Paint Pack - With A Twist
Now I know I’ve said 6 players this whole time but it’s time to throw in a 7th. This last opening is more of a limited edition pack, with just 2 sectors traditionally in the paint. So let’s go and show Deandre Ayton a bit more love while we are at it, to make it 4 highlights total.
But first - more CP3. Who would’ve thought the shortest guy on the roster could lead a sector in the paint? Paul is hovering around 55% efficiency from the spot that hovers around the FT line. That’s pretty remarkable.
It’s a battle with Book to watch. He only just shades his backcourt partner in the decimals at the moment and may have even been overtaken him by the time you read this sentence. It’s that tight!
The last of our official sectors - who leads the team in efficiency in the sector the NBA tracks in the bottom half of the paint? Just as we all thought - Mr. Bridges. It all comes down to the fact that Mikal loves getting out in transition, where he ranks in the 92nd percentile in the entire NBA. That and those long ass arms!
He is a beautiful lane filler. Making the most of space, angles and always with impeccable timing. You will find it tough to find a more efficient stat (on volume) than the 71% Bridges shoots from this in close.
Okay, now for some bonus content outside of the official NBA numbers. An OT before OT, if you will. I wanted to highlight the effort Ayton has been giving on the offensive glass recently. Really it has been all season long but in the last 10 or so games since we last spoke, DA seems to have taken it up another notch.
Ayton is just forcing his way to the front of the rim. And with such soft shooters on the Suns, he is being rewarded. Often and with great proficiency. Ayton currently converts on 65% of all putbacks.
Further to that, Ayton’s touch is elite whenever he has a single toe inside the paint. It’s why I’ve wanted to see him force his way inside more, instead of settling for outside jumpers. This season he is currently taking 79.2% of his shots from inside the key. Compare that to 71.1% last season and 73.1% in his rookie campaign.
And why wouldn’t you up the ante when Ayton shoots 74% inside the restricted area and 55% on all non restricted area twos still in the paint?
No real final thoughts needed for this Issue. Let’s see how Phoenix continue to get to their most efficient shots going forward. Go Suns!
Just a brief OT this week. For me, the remainder of the games before the Playoffs are all about learning certain things FOR the Playoffs. One of the big questions is whether Cam Payne can stand up as that third guard. This video was a great recap of Payne’s comeback so far. Let’s hope the story doesn’t end there!