On paper, the Phoenix Suns did not enter the 2013-14 season looking to be a major threat from the 3-point line -- which used to be one of the hallmarks of the team when Steve Nash was running the point.
However, several players have stepped up and made the Suns one of the league's premier 3-point shooting teams once again. Entering Thursday, the 17-10 Suns are averaging 9.8 makes per game from long range -- the second highest rate in the NBA behind Portland. Phoenix is also tied for the fifth-best shooting percentage (38.4) from behind the arc.
Friday on the Burns & Gambo show, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough credited the return of power forward/center Channing Frye as well as the emergence of P.J. Tucker, Gerald Green and Marcus Morris for the team's efficiency from 3-point land.
"I think that starts at the top with (head coach) Jeff (Hornacek). He's given those guys great confidence that when they're open and they have a good look from three, he wants them to shoot that," the general manager said. "In fact, that might be the only time that he really gets upset with our guys with our guys offensively, that if they don't shoot one of those shots, because his point -- and you know some of this comes into the analytics -- is we're not going to get a better look than an open three from one of those guys."
Tucker, also a guest on Burn & Gambo Thursday, confirmed McDonough's assertion that Hornacek does, in fact, give the team the freedom to take 3-pointers and that he will take players out of the game for not taking an open shot.
Tucker, Green and Morris did not come into the season known as 3-point specialists, but all three have made it a big part of their offensive skillset this year.
McDonough said the team's fast pace and the driving and passing abilities of point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic elicit many open looks from 3-point range. The first-year GM used Green, a seven-year NBA journeyman and former Slam Dunk Contest winner, as a case study for how a player buys into the Suns' offensive philosophy.
"I think a guy like Gerald, in particular, has been told his whole life, 'No, don't shoot that. Let's work the ball and get a better shot,' McDonough said. "And kind of what our philosophy is we're not going to get a better shot than Gerald Green -- who's shooting close to 40 percent from three -- shooting an open 3-point shot in rhythm. So that's what we've tried to do. And I think it's worked out pretty well so far."
That it has.