Should Phoenix tank or win?

One of the underestimated pieces of info in trying to project the success of the point guard pairing was the fact that both players had a history of success of sharing the backcourt with another point guard. For Dragic, he had done it in earlier in his career in Phoenix with Steve Nash and then again in Houston with Kyle Lowry, while Bledsoe cut his teeth in Los Angeles playing alongside Chris Paul. That made the transition to playing alongside each other a much easier task. They have flourished, with Dragic saying that "with Eric and me, the defense was cautious about him so there was a lot more space for me [to operate]."

The return of Channing Frye

After missing the entire 2012-13 season due to a heart condition, Frye returned to the court this campaign showing few signs of slippage. His 46 percent 3-point shooting has provided tremendous spacing for the Dragic-Bledsoe dynamic to be able to operate freely, and he's been a boon as an underrated defensive player and rebounder. He's one of only eight players in the league with a defensive rebound percentage of at least 18 percent and a 3-point shooting mark of at least 37.5 percent (minimum 50 attempts), highlighting the dearth of true stretch bigs who are not specialists.

Hornacek's leadership

Hornacek has exceeded expectations as a rookie head coach, putting an emphasis on teaching (a must with such a young roster) and effectively handling minute distributions and lineup management. As an example, this season the Suns rank 10th in both offensive (105.2) and defensive efficiency (101.9).

Most importantly, he's resisted the urge of most young coaches to overcoach during the game, trying to prove they are capable tacticians. Instead, he's put his players in a position to succeed and then given them the freedom to execute on the court.

Players outperforming historical production

Another unforeseen development was the marked improvement over career norms from a number of players:

P.J. Tucker, a defensive specialist who has played as an undersized big for most of his collegiate and non-NBA career, has developed into a reliable 3-point shooter from the corners, shooting 43 percent (30-of-69).

Gerald Green, a journeyman wing, is posting a career high in true shooting percentage (59 percent) while averaging almost 18 points per 36 minutes, giving the Suns an efficient scoring punch off the bench.

• The Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus, are both outpacing their career PER rates (Markieff is at 17.8 versus a career mark of 13.6 while Marcus is at 15.3 versus a career mark of 12.1), becoming reliable, productive bench players.

Miles Plumlee, acquired from Indiana in the Luis Scola deal, has been a fantastic force on the glass (offensive rebounding percentage of 10.9; defensive rebounding percentage of 25.1) and provided the Suns with finishing around the basket, averaging almost a double-double (9.9 points and 9.1 rebounds) after barely playing in his rookie year for the Pacers.

What's next?

Phoenix finds itself in a delicate situation, with a young roster that is unexpectedly competing for a playoff berth with a good deal of cap flexibility and ample pick inventory (it is owed Indiana's 2014 first-round pick, protected 2014 first-round picks from Minnesota and Washington as well as the rights to the Lakers' 2015 first-round pick).

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