The Phoenix Suns played their first preseason game on Wednesday, Oct 10, to mixed results. That they won or lost the game was immaterial.
Preseason is all about evaluating players, and Alvin Gentry has to choose three to five guys from a pool of 12 to supplement the Suns returning rotation. From last season, only Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris, Shannon Brown and Sebastian Telfair return. Each will get a rotation spot, at least at the beginning of the season. Alvin Gentry needs some kind of continuity while the new guys learn the system.
Certainly, if any or all of them get beaten out by new guys, that's the way it goes. But Gentry won't be able to see that and make that decision if the new guys are just languishing on the bench all preseason.
So he has to play the new guys as much as possible while also getting everyone into game shape.
"We're just going to take a look at see how players fit together," said Gentry to arizonasports.com. "We had a pretty good gauge in the past about who played well with who and the matchups and the rotations. But, with this group right here it's practically brand new."
I was not surprised when Shannon Brown and Sebastian Telfair were held out of last night's game. Sure they had minor injuries (Brown got stitches on his forehead, Telfair had a sore wrist). But it was also convenient to rest them for the same reasons that Luke Zeller and Ike Diogu didn't play.
"I want guys out there long enough so they can get a feel," he said in that same interview. "We'll give guys some extended minutes. Most of the guys that go in are going to play seven or eight minutes straight so they can at least get a feel of the game."
By not playing Zeller and Diogu, Gentry got to see more of Solomon Jones and Jermaine O'Neal.
So, what did Gentry glean from these guys last night? To be honest, I have no idea. I only had a tiny stream on my computer running while listening to the out-of-synch radio call by McCoy and keeping up on twitter and game stats, not to mention writing the recap and popping into the game thread.
And even if I did have all the video and time in the world, I'm not a basketball coach. I rarely notice the little things beyond the basketball. I don't even know what offensive plays they were running each time, unless it was a pick-and-roll.
I can guess that Gentry can see Johnson in a "shooter" role, and Beasley in a jack-of-all-trades role on the wing. And I can guess that Gentry didn't like the flow of the offense when Marshall or Garrett were running the team.
But those suppositions can change from game to game. Expect Gentry to keep playing roulette all the way through the preseason (and even into the season for a month or two). There's no all-star on this team, no sure-fire winning lineup. It's all about mixing and matching guys who have never played together as a group before. And then figuring out which "good" and "bad" is repeatable to the point of consistency.
Not only does he need to figure out if these guys can play NBA-level basketball, he needs to see who plays best with whom.
And that's a tall order.
The Phoenix Suns have been bitten a bit by the injury bug early in training camp. The first issue is with Shannon Brown, who, according to Arizona Republic's Paul Coro, will miss his second preseason game after suffering what some are calling "Halloween eye." As this photo from reporter Craig Grialou shows, Brown suffered a sizable laceration above his left eye after a collision with forward P.J. Tucker during practice.
The area is pretty swollen and would certainly make it hard for the young guard to play.
The other injury issue the Suns are dealing with is Sebastian Telfair's wrist. He managed to practice on Thursday, but he was held out of Wednesday's preseason game with the Kings as a precaution. Here is the latest from Phoenix:
#Suns Telfair practiced w/his left wrist taped; he was held out of last night's gm as a precaution, should play Friday vs. Blazers— Craig Grialou (@Craig620) October 11, 2012
If you have any free views left to use at AZCentral.com (I have five for the month!), consider spending one on this breakdown of the individual performances from your Phoenix Suns during Wednesday's preseason opener. Here's how Mr. Paul Coro described the Suns defensive effort.
azcentral.com staff blogs - Coro's Orange Slices blog - PaulCoro - How Suns looked in a preseason opener
Many defensive issues popped out. Their rotations in pick-and-roll defense and out of traps were lacking. They broke down after loose-ball scrambles and allowed lane penetration on the dribble. The transition defense worsened as the game went on with players sometimes getting back but just to their men and not all the way to the paint.
You'll have to decide if reading the rest of this analysis (always good) is worth using up a remaining AZCentral view.
It's debatable how "historic" two buildings roughly 100 hundred years old might be, but there's clearly forces within the Phoenix community that want to save the St. James and Madison hotels. The two oldish buildings sit just west of the Suns home court and the team wants to turn them into a convenient location for valet parking.
In the middle of this classic duel between preservationists and those who seek progress sits one man, developer Michael Levine. According to a report from radio station KTAR, Levine has made a Solomon-like proposal to split the proverbial baby in two.
Developer offers Phoenix Suns compromise over site - Phoenix News - KTAR.com
"A cool approach would be to leave the back 20 feet of the building, and the front 45 feet of the building, and actually drive through the buildings," Levine said. "I think they would become architectural icons, and would become a destination for people coming to downtown."
To date, no response from Suns managing partner Robert Sarver has been reported.