The Suns are officially embarked on two-a-days for the next several days learning the playbook (12 new players).
Post links to all the Suns stories this week, and even some from around the NBA as well, while we gear up for the NBA season.
Of the 17 players who began training camp today, only six have played for Alvin Gentry and this coaching staff before.
And none have commanded Gentry's offense for more than 20 minutes at a stretch. That's the way it is when Steve Nash is your point guard for eight seasons.
But entering the 2012-13 NBA season, someone else has to step up and lead the team. Partially by handling the ball, partially by passing and creating open shots and partially by leading the team through tough stretches. That won't all be encapsulated in one person as it used to be. Now those tasks must be shared among the players.
So far, Gentry's plan is unchanged. Well, mostly unchanged. Play fast and loose on offense. Try harder than ever on defense. The new guys just have to get up to speed.
"At one time, everyone was a student. It's a pretty simple system, really," Gentry said. "The guys are excited. We'll have a full month to get ready, before our first game against Golden State. You have got be in really great shape, and play the basketball you've been playing your whole life. We're going to be up-tempo."
Expecting Goran Dragic, who has been described by himself and everyone else around him as totally different and more confident than when he left the Suns in 2011, to run the team the same as Nash did would be folly.
The play calls may start out the same, but Dragic runs the pick-and-roll totally differently. He will use the screen to attack the basket, and either finish at the rim or feed the ball to open players after the defense collapses.
But Dragic cannot do this all by himself, and Gentry knows that. He is grateful for another offseason addition.
"The difference is Scola," he said at Suns Media Day, per Paul Coro of azcentral.com. "We don't have anyone since Boris (Diaw) that's been him. He can pass. He can score in the low block. I could definitely see us running through him."
And that is not all. Oh no, that is not all.
"Then you have Beasley, who is probably our best offensive player who can score from the mid-block kind of like a Carmelo (Anthony). The thing with him is once he starts scoring, can he make other players better? We know Scola can."
So Beasley can score from anywhere, but everyone knows he has so far not shown an ability or desire to lead a team.
Scola can lead a team, but he is not talented enough to carry them all game long.
Dragic can run a team, and play as many minutes as it takes while doing it, but can't do it all by himself and is certainly not as gifted as Nash in creating shots for others.
None of this fazes Alvin Gentry.
"We're still going to try to lead the league in scoring. We'll play nine or ten guys consistently. We'll still try to lead the league in field-goal percentage and assists."
At Media Day, Jim and I caught up with second-year power forward Markieff Morris in an exclusive interview to talk about his rookie season and what he expects this next year.
He spent most of the summer in Phoenix, only returning to Philadelphia a few times, to work on post moves, rebounding and becoming a more "defensive-minded player." Markieff spent much of his gym time right alongside brother Marcus, making up for lost time during their rookie seasons.
"I watched tape of defensive possessions last year, and I saw I played defense with my hands too much, Morris said. "So I got to do a better job, and I worked on that in the offseason."
Assistant coach Elston Turner, who we caught up with in a separate exclusive, concurred.
"We spent a huge amount of time this summer working with him," Turner said. "He has all the tools. If you can move, if you can run, if you can jump. [Compared to his college reputation as a defender] it's a different league for him. A lot of guys at his position are bigger than him, and he's ... going to have to man up. That shouldn't matter - you just play a certain way no matter who you're playing against."
What does Morris need to work on the most?
"Playing 'til you're uncomfortable," Turner said, after a moment of thought. "There's a comfort zone if you're used to playing a certain way where you came from, that's the way you play when you get here.
"But we want him to play a little bit more upbeat, a little bit more energetic. He has a tremendous amount of talent. I am expecting him to outrun most bigs that are guarding him."
Morris has also been working on his post moves, which he showed off a bit in July summer league. He wasn't finishing at a high clip, but he was aggressive on both ends of the court. The Markieff Morris of the summer league can really help this Suns team in 2012-13.
"We are expecting big things from him," Turner said. "On both ends of the floor."