In the first installment of this series, Goran Dragic was proclaimed player of the week and we saw his early season highlights. This week, Markieff Morris dominated the competition over the course of a 3-1 road trip.

This week, Alex Len put up career-high scoring performances in two consecutive games. Alex Len also shot 79% from the field over the course of five games.

And yet, Alex Len is not player of the week. Which is only a testament to the type of week that fourth-year power forward Markieff Morris had.

Admittedly, Kieff got off to a rocky start in Los Angeles. In the first game of the week against the Clippers he shot 2-10 from the field and put up only five points and six rebounds. But after that, he looked like the leader of the team.

Despite Len's fantastic performance against the Boston Celtics on the road, it was Markieff's career-high 30-point performance that led the Suns to a slim four-point victory. Two nights later, it was his game-saving block on Brandon Jennings that netted a two-point win over the Detroit Pistons.

And against the 76ers, his 18 points in only 22 minutes allowed the Suns to gain momentum in the first half that they wouldn't lose for the rest of the night. He put up another efficient stat line in Indiana, but that game will count for the upcoming week.

Overall, Markieff averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks per game this week. He struggled to score from long distance, but shot an astounding 55 percent from the field and a perfect 7-7 from the free-throw line.

What makes it even more impressive is the fact that he logged over 30 minutes in just one of the four games. Morris actually averaged 19.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes.

And that brings us to this week's video of early season highlights. Watch Markieff drill three-pointers, knock down mid-range jump shots and even go to work in the post. Watch him convert fast break layups as well as putback dunks.

This video is a testament to the versatile offensive weapon that Markieff has become. He is now by far the Suns' greatest offensive frontcourt player, and arguably their best option to score in a halfcourt set. He doesn't have the explosiveness of an Amar'e Stoudemire, or the three-point shot of a Channing Frye, but he falls somewhere in between. He is also now quite adept at finishing through contact.

Markieff Morris may not have the ceiling of a superstar, but he's quickly establishing himself as an above-average power forward. His PER of 18.8 currently ranks 12th in the league among starting power forwards, and of those 12 he also has the lowest usage rate.

Years ago, one of Morris' best-case scenario pro comparisons was Rasheed Wallace.

Wallace was an exceptional defender who had both the strength and the quickness to guard power forwards and centers on the low block. He was one of the better defenders of his era. And Markieff still has a lot of work to do in that area.

Offensively, however, there are many similarities. Rasheed's ability to hit the turnaround jumper, score in the post and float out to the three-point line can now be seen in Kieff.

When Rasheed was 25, he made his first All-Star game with Portland. That season, he averaged 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes. He shot 52 percent from the field, and at that time his three-point shot was still a work in progress.

Markieff is currently 25, breaking out at about the same time that Wallace did. And for comparison, he's currently averaging 17.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks per 36 minutes. Markieff is also shooting a career-high 51 percent from the field.

While he isn't on his way to breaking the NBA record for most technical fouls, Markieff, just like Sheed, will do as he pleases and say what he wants. For evidence of that, look no further than his comments on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's missed shot at the end of the Suns-Pistons game a few days ago.

Do we have our very own baby Sheed?

Also, here's a poll for you to vote for your own player of the week. Disagree with my pick? Let your voice be heard!

Who is your Suns player of the week?

  305 votes | Results

As the actual games unfolded, the Phoenix Suns have looked - and felt - disappointed with some of the outcomes. But a 9-5 record after 14 games is really a solid start. Let's look at the rest of 2014.

Great expectations when bumped up against reality are generally met with disappointment.

Rarely does a team with high expectations still make every fan happy. And rarely does a team with high expectations make themselves happy.

Such was the case with the Phoenix Suns coming out of the gate this season. Realism aside, we hoped that the unusual lineup would mesh immediately, and that every player would pre-subjugate their egos for the good of team before finding out if those egos would fit without such sacrifice.

Suns dealt front-loaded road schedule

Will have to dig deep to stay in playoff race

Regardless of the meshing, the schedule itself was not an easy one even though the season started with a bunch of home games. When reviewing the schedule in August, I did not expect the Suns to dominate.

But despite the rocky start, the Phoenix Suns find themselves with a 9-5 record and a few more winnable games in the next 2 weeks before a tough roadie through Texas.

The first 10 - tougher than it looked


Coming out of the chute, we all wanted the Suns to take advantage of the home-heavy slate. But back in August I thought this schedule was a really tough one (minus the easy Laker games) and would have been happy with a 5-5 outcome.

A year ago, the Suns went 10-18 against their non-Laker season-opening opponents.

The Spurs, Jazz, Grizzlies, Kings, Warriors, Nets, Hornets and Clippers were tough on the Suns last season. I mean, you almost couldn't find a tougher group of opponents for this team. A year ago, the Suns went 10-18 against those opponents (and that includes the season-ending "Archie show" against the Kings).

Looking at it that way, a 5-5 record after 10 isn't so bad. I guess we should be satisfied they took care of the Lakers and found a way to go 3-5 against a group of teams that had the Suns number even when the chemistry was great a year ago.

The 6-game roadie


The Suns started the longest road trip of the season with a game against the Clippers, but then headed East with an opportunity to get a run going.

On paper, games against the lowly Celtics, Pistons, Sixers and Pacers should be a walk in the park. But road games are always tough because teams playing at home are playing with the crowd behind them. Luckily, the Suns were able to pull out wins against the Celtics and Pistons in the closing minute before laying the hammer on the Sixers and Pacers on consecutive nights.

The final game of the road trip is on Monday night, against the high-flying Raptors. The Raptors just came back to beat the "vaunted" Cavaliers on Saturday night to run their record to 11-2. They are built similar to the Suns, in that they rely mostly on guards for scoring while using their big men for the dirty work under the basket. They brought back the same team as a year ago, and are right now running roughshod over the league.

Winning that game would be a huge feat early in the season, right up there with beating San Antonio in week one and ahead of beating Golden State and Brooklyn. The Raptors are the real deal.

Even with a loss though, a 9-6 record after 15 games is solid. Not spectacular, but solid.

Coming up - what's your prediction?

The schedule through the end of the calendar year is actually pretty manageable.


The Suns have gone a collective 32-19 against these opponents in the past 1+ years (including this season's first 14 games). Their worst showings are against the Mavericks, Clippers and Kings, while they have swept the Nuggets, Magic, Pacers, Bucks and Pelicans under Hornacek.

I can see the Suns finishing the calendar year at 20-14 easily. With a good run of making their open shots, it's possible we will see an even better record than a year ago's start (21-13 through 34 games, including a 19-11 start before Bledsoe went down).

What's your prediction for the rest of 2014, now that you've seen this team in action?

The Suns demolished the shorthanded Pacers for their fourth straight win, 106-83, behind 23 points in 22 minutes from Gerald Green.

It's never easy to win the second end of a back to back on the road, even when the opponent is shorthanded, but the Suns did just that tonight in winning their fourth straight game behind a supernova performance from former Pacer Gerald Green. He scored 23, making 5 three-point shots in the process, performing like the best player on either team in his time on the floor.

He's become a bit of a bellwether for this Suns team, and Green made his presence felt in the first half with 18 points and 2 assists on 6-9 shooting (4-7 from 3) in only 9 minutes in the half.

The Pacers lost their leading scorer Roy Hibbert to injury midway through the first quarter, as Hibbert twisted and sprained his left ankle. Hibbert went back to the locker room with 6:40 to go in the first, came back for a bit but was clearly hobbled, then didn't return.

Phoenix just had too much for the Pacers tonight, and Green would not be denied. After an early 3-point barrage, the Pacers lacked the firepower to keep up once it became a shootout. Isaiah Thomas chipped in 16 points, and Markieff Morris 13 as the Suns routed the Pacers.

This wasn't much of a contest after a tightly contested first quarter featured the Pacers making 3s and crashing the offensive boards. Indiana made only 36% of their FGs, and 30% from 3, while the Suns converted at 45% and 39%. The game was played at the Suns pace, and more possessions favors Phoenix.

Dragic had a ho-hum night with 11, as Green and IT combined for 39, and the Suns bench provided the difference yet again. A 9-5 record feels good to me. Nothing like playing poor Eastern Conference opponents to get yourself right.

Player of the Game

Gerald Green

We all want to feel loved and appreciated. Nobody likes being rejected, and Green is no different. The Pacers gave up on Green, letting the Suns have him in the Scola trade. I can't get inside Green's head to know whether he feels extra motivation playing against Indy, but he sure played like it tonight.

He did so much more than score, with his 3 rebounds, 2 assists and countless hustle plays to go along with his prolific scoring. If there was a point he was proving, he proved it. The Suns were +24 when Green was on the floor tonight.

The next game will be much more difficult, Monday night vs. the 10-2 Toronto Raptors. For now, let's just enjoy this winning streak. When Green plays like a superstar, as he did tonight, the Suns will play with anyone in the league, and beat most.

Gerald Green scored 23 points in 22 minutes and the Phoenix Suns rested their starters in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row. A 106-83 win against the Indiana Pacers gave Phoenix its...

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The Friday night thrashing the Phoenix Suns gave the Philadelphia 76ers presented Jeff Hornacek the opportunity to save his best players’ legs. Isaiah Thomas led the Suns with 24 minutes...

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