This off-season has brought with it the most active re-building phase that the Suns have seen in a decade. In case you've been living under a rock this summer, the former face of the franchise and lone superstar, Steve Nash, is now on the Los Angeles Lakers after the Suns made the decision to go younger with their pursuit and eventual signing of free-agent and former Sun Goran Dragic.
Not only that, but the Suns' elder statesman and veteran defensive leader, Grant Hill was more or less given the green light to seek out another team after the Suns apparently refused to make him an offer beyond a one-year deal at the veteran minimum. Hill eventually agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
With all of the talk surrounding the changes to the Suns' roster this season and all of the new faces on the team, many seem to have overlooked a very interesting dynamic involving who the Suns will choose to start at the power forward position this year.
When the Suns were awarded Luis Scola (32 years old, 6'9", 245lb) from the amnesty auction this off-season, many fans were shocked being that the Suns already had Markieff Morris along with Channing Frye at the position. But with the recent, shocking medical diagnosis that will cause Frye to miss at least this season, the Suns front office now appears to have made a very wise decision by bringing aboard the scrappy, skilled veteran to help solidify the team.
Luis Scola is known as one of the most skilled big men in the interior. Although he doesn't possess elite size, strength, or athleticism, his craftiness and hustle in and around the paint makes him a very effective starting power forward who can not only run the pick and roll but can also post up and create his own shot.
Of course, the flip-side to this is that the Suns' very promising sophomore power forward, Markieff Morris, also appears primed and ready to step into the starting spot.
While Morris had an up-and-down first season with the Suns averaging 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in approximately 20 minutes per game, Morris showed flashes of greatness in his first season...So much so that he was even placed into the starting line-up for a brief five-game stint after playing in only 14 games prior to that.
However, Morris struggled to find his niche last season in an offense that was customized around Nash's strengths, and he initially tried to become a player he probably wasn't the best suited for...a stretch-four. The Suns already had Channing Frye; what they needed was a defensive minded big man who could protect the rim inside, score down low, and gobble up rebounds in and around the paint.
Morris was eventually moved back to the second unit where he claimed to be more comfortable, much to the chagrin of many Suns' fans. However, Morris showed improvement as the season went on, and he finally seemed to realize that his biggest impact could be made inside of the arc.
After having one shortened season under his belt and now a full off-season working out with the training and coaching staff, Markieff appears ready to make his mark.
Morris was the undisputed MVP of the Suns' Summer League and was one of the top performers overall as well. Keef led the Summer Suns averaging 19.8 points (10th highest in the league), and 9.8 rebounds (2nd highest in the league) per game. He displayed an impressive post game, very nice footwork, and an improved jump shot as well.
While this was only Summer League basketball which can't really compare to the NBA, you couldn't help but notice the substantial improvements Markieff had made since we last saw him. Keef now appears both mentally and physically ready to take the reins and never look back.
But then again, Luis Scola is a proven vet who has proven chemistry with the Suns' new starting point guard. Although Dragic is only one and a half years removed from the Suns, this is now almost a completely different team than it was when he last played in Phoenix.
In fact, the only players still on the roster from when Dragic played in Phoenix are Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat (barely). So maybe having another familiar player in Scola, who played so well with Dragic in Houston, would be a better fit to start the season at power forward?
There's no way to know the right answer yet. There are certainly pros and cons for both Morris and Scola to play in the starting unit, and there won't be a clearer picture on who the right player will be until training camp and preseason starts.
It really could go either way...this will definitely be one competition to keep an eye on.