I’ve decided to let everyone else talk about what they think is going to happen with the team over the next few weeks and months and instead, I’m going to take a look back at what the Suns did numbers-wise pre-Shaq. Then as we get more into the post-Shaq era, we’ll have a good base to build off of.

The Suns played 53 games before Shaq stepped onto the court and won 37 of them – a 70% winning percentage. Assuming they kept that percentage up for the rest of the season, they would have won 57 games. The team also lost 16 games before the Big Cactus put on the uniform. By the end of the season (if percentages stayed the same), they would have lost 25 games. So what was the difference between the wins and the losses?

I averaged the numbers in the wins and losses to see what trends I could find and most of the numbers are very obvious (the Suns score more in wins than in losses), some are fairly obvious (they shoot a higher percentage in wins than in losses) and some not so obvious (they average nearly the same number of offensive rebounds – 7.8 vs 7.1 – in wins and losses).

But there are some stats that I would not have predicted before I ran the numbers:

When the Suns win, their opponents average 42.3 rebounds per game. When they lose opponents average 41.8 rebounds. So there’s not too much difference in the actual number of rebounds the Suns’ opponents get per game. What matters instead is the plus/minus of rebounds the Suns get in wins and losses. In wins, the Suns only average 3.7 rebounds less than their opponents. In losses, Phoenix is averages 9.6 less. That is a huge difference and is one that hopefully Shaq will be able to help the Suns overcome. Another stat regarding rebounds is the percentage of total rebounds the Suns get. They average 44% of the total rebounds in the game when they win while they only average 38% of the total rebounds when they lose.

A few additional statistics that I found interesting are:

  • Phoenix averages more steals in losses (8.1) than in wins (7.0) and the number of turnovers
  • The Suns average the same number of turnovers (12.4) in wins and losses
  • They average the same number of fouls in wins and losses (17.8)

While the Suns weren’t able to pull out the win tonight, they did improve in the rebounding category. As the Suns get more comfortable with Shaq in the lineup, the wins will hopefully start coming as well.

What are your thoughts on the stats above? Is there something I’m missing? Something you’d like me to research further? If so, e-mail me at blog@suns.com.

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