It was a bittersweet day where the Phoenix Suns won and the Phoenix Suns lost.
The Phoenix Suns unveiled their new - mostly returning - team to more than 5,000 fans in Flagstaff on Saturday at the Walkup Skydome. And they were treated to a ragtag game of basketball highlighted more by individual plays than team basketball.
The teams combined to shoot poorly, which led to a lot of rebounds and some pretty fast breaks.
Gerald Green showed off his entire game on two possessions - a breakaway windmill dunk and then a breakaway pullup three pointer on consecutive plays.
Eric Bledsoe showed off his greatest strengths on a single sequence in the first half. He emphatically spiked a Dragic floater, grabbed the loose ball, streaked down the court and lobbed an alley-oop to Plumlee.
Bledsoe's Black team - consisting of the Isaiah Thomas, P.J. Tucker, Miles Plumlee and Marcus Morris as well as the surprising Shavlik Randolph - ran out to a 19 point lead early in the second quarter on a series of good defensive plays and run outs.
Dragic's White team - consisting of Markieff Morris, T.J. Warren, Alex Len and Gerald Green - appeared to think this was a fun scrimmage and just couldn't turn on the jets when the other side started to roll.
Before we get too concerned about performance of individual players, let's remind ourselves that this was an instraquad scrimmage held after 8 practices in 5 days at high altitude. Some players handled the fatigue and atmosphere differently than others.
What you can take away from the scrimmage is whether any players have noticeably added to their skill set over the summer:
- Shav's range: Look no further than Shavlik Randolph doing a Channing Frye impersonation with a couple of knockdown threes (2 for 2 on the day) from the angles in game action. This after Randolph was killing it in warmups with several made threes in a row using a fluid release that appears very repeatable. Seriously, if Randolph truly has added the three-pointer to his repertoire then he's just made himself more valuable. Shav led all players with 9 rebounds, and added 13 points and 2 assists.
- Keef's range: Markieff Morris also made several threes (4 for 5 on the day) while continuing to show off dead-eye range from the baseline that was such a part of his game last year. Keef finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds.
- Goodwin's floater: Archie Goodwin did not shoot well overall (6 for 15), but made a floater and a jumper amid his usual array of drives to the basket. Archie was aggressive on offense and defense (4 steals and a blocked shot on a Zoran Dragic breakaway). Goodwin finished with 16 points, 2 rebounds and a assist.
- Plum's hook: Miles Plumlee showed more lift on his hook shot, a necessity to give it every chance to go in. He was also one of the bigger hustlers on the court, appearing to be bursting with energy that others didn't seem to have. Plumlee pulled down 7 rebounds while scoring 12 points. At least six of his points were on alley-oop jams from Eric Bledsoe.
Outside of those developments, the rest of the players looked much like they looked a year ago.
- Alex Len (8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist) looked bigger than anyone else - and at least 2-3 inches taller than Plumlee - but did not stand out. He did make some nice passes and finish well at the rim on dump offs.
- Gerald Green (10 points, 6 rebounds) was Gerald Green, in all his glory.
- P.J. Tucker (3 points, 1 rebound) was P.J. Tucker. For the first 10-15 minutes of the scrimmage, Tucker was a demon on D. He didn't fill up the stat sheet but he was everywhere he needed to be.
- Marcus Morris looked like he hasn't missed a beat from last year, making several jumpers.
- Eric Bledsoe (16 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) showed off his all-around game. He was locked in defensively for the first 10-15 minutes of the scrimmage before taking his foot off the gas after his side took a 19-point lead. He appears to be in incredible shape and ready for a break out season.
- Isaiah Thomas (11 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds) was highly effective as well for the winning Black team in the first half, even though he didn't look like he was taking the scrimmage very seriously. Both Bledsoe and Thomas were "traded" at halftime to the white team, but didn't bring the same energy in the second half.
- Goran Dragic (4 points, 6 assists, 8 rebounds) looked a bit slow out there, but you don't have to worry about the Dragon. He just wasn't dialed in. One time he jammed home the ball on a break away rather than lay it in because he saw Bledsoe coming in his rear view mirror for a chase down block. Bledsoe had already blocked Dragic twice.
- Among the rookies, T.J. Warren (12 points) had a good second half doing what he does best - score in transition and in the paint. The other rookies very just as bad in the game as they were in the dance off (later)
Don't take a whole lot away from this scrimmage, Suns fans. Appreciate the new skills on display, but otherwise there was no surprise player that made you go "whoa" except maybe Shav's threes.
The Suns were good last year and it appears they will be good again.