The Suns -- an email to Johnny Ludden

By Jason Wojciechowski on May 6, 2010 at 2:05 PM

So Johnny Ludden wrote this column for Yahoo! about how Alvin Gentry has turned the Suns around on defense. The problem I saw was that he ignored the fact that this year's Suns were actually worse than any Mike D'Antoni Suns team on defense on a per-possession basis. I decided to (more civilly than usually) email him. The below is the text of that email.


Your column on the Suns was interesting, but it misses basic facts: points per possession allowed and scored. That's the simplest team measure of offense and defense you could have, right? Not a controversial "advanced" metric, just a way to see how efficient you are on offense and how good you are on defense while adjusting for the fact that some teams play faster or slower than others.

This season, the Suns scored 1.153 points per possession and allowed 1.102. That ranked first and 23rd in the league, respectively. So their offense was excellent and their defense was bad.

But that's nothing new, right, that's just the Suns? Well, if you go back to the D'Antoni years, here's how they stack up:

2008: 1.133 and 1.081
2007: 1.139 and 1.064
2006: 1.115 and 1.058
2005: 1.145 and 1.071

Notice something? This year's Suns scored better than any D'Antoni team and defended worse!

I understand that they look different. I've watched them, too. Dudley is a lockdown defender just like Raja Bell was. Amar'e looks active on defense rather than acting like Carlos Boozer. The list goes on.

But facts are facts: this team scored better and defended worse than D'Antoni's teams ever did.

Jason Wojciechowski