More photos » Laura Rauch - AP
about 1 year ago: Phoenix Suns' Zabian Dowdell passes around Los Angeles Clippers' Kevin Pinckney during their NBA Summer League basketball game at Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)
As expected, the Suns invited Zabian Dowdell to training camp. Valley resident Chucky Atkins is also expected to get an invite to Suns camp, forcing a nice little competition for the fifth and final guard spot with rookie Matt Janning.
The Suns could be one injury away from needing one of these guys during the season, but my master of the obvious senses tell me that Atkins is last year's Dan Dickau, and while it may be wise to stash Dowdell on the bench as insurance, the edge in this battle goes to Matt Janning.
Janning's game has been discussed on BSOTS and you can find an interview here, so most of us know what he brings to the table. The Suns consider him a high basketball IQ guy with upside, but he is certainly NBA raw. Another factor playing into the mix is Jason Richardson's contract situation. After Josh Childress, there is no true 2 guard. If J-Rich gets traded or signs somewhere else in the off season, Janning could provide a cheap, young in house replacement for the future. In addition, he can go at either the 1 or 2, which adds further depth for the Suns.
If the worst were to happen (I won't mention it specifically but it involves injury to certain vital cogs in the Suns wheels), the Suns may be in better shape with either Atkins or Dowdell as a backup. At 36, Atkins has been around the NBA block and would add some veteran poise and ball distribution help (which is about all he adds at this stage in his career). Dowdell isn't nearly as experienced as Atkins with the majority of his career played overseas in Spain (77 games).
But perhaps Hedo Turkoglu makes this decision a little easier for the Suns. Turk's "Point Forward" skills could allow the Suns to invest in young Janning instead of Dowdell. Janning may not be forced into action in the case of a back court injury which gives him time to sit, learn, and put on some NBA style muscle.
The other side of the coin, split between Atkins and Dowdell, is to consider the veteran factor. If one looks at true PG depth for this season, then either Atkins or Dowdell are the best "ready to play" options.
Of course, unless something really awful happens, we're probably only looking at this 5th guard option playing minimal to no minutes per game.