The 2-0* Phoenix Suns will take on the 1-0* San Antonio Spurs, the reining Western Conference champions, in a rivalry-fueled game with great consequences. Well, not really...but a Suns-Spurs match-up should be enough to get you excited, right? Even last year's abysmal season featured a fantastic duel between the two teams in which Wes Johnson made perhaps the only memorable play of his Suns career.

*Preseason records

Who: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs

What: An NBA preseason game

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

When: 11:30AM PST, October 13, 2013

Why: Because Suns vs. Spurs

How: Listen live on AZ Sports 620. Follow the game live on this game thread!

Probable Starters

Suns:

The Suns went with a fairly normal starting five in their first preseason game, then shuffled pieces around in their second by moving Goran Dragic to the bench and starting Marcus Morris for the sake of experiment. Since it's pointless trying to predict what changes Hornacek will make to his lineup today, let's just go with the probable regular season starters (this will not likely be accurate).

PG - Eric Bledsoe

SG - Goran Dragic

SF - PJ Tucker

PF - Markieff Morris

C - Marcin Gortat

Spurs:

The Spurs have only played one game thus far in the preseason, an overtime thriller against CSKA Moscow in which Patty Mills hit a game-winner to lead the Spurs to victory. Yes, CSKA Moscow. Yes, Patty Mills. There's another reminder that this is preseason.

PG - Tony Parker

SG - Danny Green

SF - Kawhi Leonard

PF - Tim Duncan

C - Tiago Splitter

Key Match-ups

  • Eric Bledsoe vs. Tony Parker - This is the match-up I'm most excited about. Both players are small, quick guards with somewhat similar offensive styles. Obviously, Parker is far more experienced and is the better player at this point in their respective careers but this should be a good (preseason) test for Bledsoe.

  • Goran Dragic vs. Danny Green/Manu Ginobili - Dragic is sure to see at least a few minutes against both Green and Ginobili. The former is a catch-and-shoot guard with size who loves shooting off screens, which is the type of player Dragic and the rest of the Suns team often had trouble defending last season. Meanwhile, Ginobili is a crafty veteran who plays similarly to Dragic. The contrast between Green and Ginobili greatly helped San Antonio last year.

  • Marcin Gortat vs. Tiago Splitter - Splitter received a nice extension from the Spurs this offseason, while Gortat hopes to earn a contract at least in the same range in 2014. Although this is just preseason, match-ups like these are the ones Gortat needs to use to showcase his skills and prove his worth in this season of audition.

  • Alex Len vs. Tim Duncan? I'm not sure if we'll get a chance to see this match-up at all today but it would sure be an intriguing one. It probably wouldn't end well for the rookie but it would a great learning exercise for him to go up against one of the best big men of all time and one of the players he personally loves to watch.

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Time: 11:30 a.m. MST TV: Not on local TV A quick few questions as the Suns face the Spurs in San Antonio for a preseason, pre-noon tip. How do the Suns handle Tony Parker with the revamped roster? It...

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PHOENIX – For the sake of parallels, consider Miles Plumlee the former Kendall Marshall of the Indiana Pacers. The first-round pick for Indiana in 2012 wasn’t a popular choice during the draft...

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The Suns participation in this year's NBA Rank edition ended at spot #63 with the appointment of new acquisition Eric Bledsoe. The Suns actually weren't even the first team to bow out of the convivial collaboration, though. Shockingly, they were fourth. But more on that later. Let me begin this examination with a history lesson.

*The NBA Rank system is a predictive tool (a very shaky one). All rankings are based on expected player performance for the upcoming season.

2012_rank_roster_10

This chart depicts the rankings of last season's opening day roster. I know many of us are trying to efface the memories of last year's ineptitude, but this is unfortunately necessary to illustrate my ultimate point.

Allow me to introduce a mechanic I will employ to assign a player's position in terms of roster depth. If all of the players in the league were subject to a fantasy draft by virtue of their NBA rank score, given 30 teams, the top 30 players would be the best on a team, 31-60 would be the #2 starter... 151-180 would be the sixth man, etc. By this metric, the Suns (according to the geniuses involved with the NBA Rank compilation) nearly had five starter quality players last season and sported eight players worthy of top eight rotation spots. With the obvious exception of top end talent, one could construe that the Suns may have had at least a marginally competitive roster...

But that would have been specious logic. And the vast majority gave no credence to this type of perspective as the prevailing opinion was that the Suns would be one of, if not the, worst team/s in the Western Conference. Despite the clamor from the Brightside that some of these people were ignorant haters (We couldn't be that bad, right?), they ended up being right (for a change).

And these doom merchants predicted our chthonic descent without suggesting that Michael Beasley would be the very worst player in the entire league that was given a significant number of minutes! I sanguinely slotted the Suns higher than the basement, but ultimately gave myself an escape route noted that the play of Beasley and Markieff Morris would be the most important factors in the Suns' success results. Dammit.

Interestingly, every single Suns player who returned from last season received a lower ranking than the previous year. I disagree with a couple of their decisions (which I will elaborate on below) that seem to be misinformed snubs, but I think they kind of got it right even though they may have took a circuitous route. And while the Suns muddled their way to 25 wins last season, the new rankings reveal that the Suns would have been even worse if they kept the band together....

Also, how in the hell can they justify the claim that there are 122 players worse than Beasley?

2013_rank_roster_10

Now we move on to the upcoming 2013-14 season. This is where things get even more insulting interesting. The Suns median and mean drop from 191 and 196 to 306 and 311, respectively. The team goes from eight players in top eight roster spots to three. Three. The Suns only have three players on this team worthy of meaningful minutes. While the Suns traded for their predicted best player, they also acquired four of the bottom 105 players in the league. And while four players are expected to improve this season, double that (eight) are expected to erode.

Arbitrarily using the mean value to augur wins this season (311/196 = 1.58, 25/1.58 = 15.82) the Suns should be on the orange and purple brick road to 16 wins. Keeping the band together would have made the team worse, but this accomplishes the feat in even more spectacularly catastrophic terms.

Now I get to disagree...

Goran Dragic should be ranked higher than #107. Point guard is the deepest position in the league and Goran should probably be 15-20 at that spot (maybe higher). By that logic, the #83 ranking from last season should be pretty apt. I really don't see him regressing and I'm assuming those that do (I believe incorrectly) think that Bledsoe will stymie his production.

A healthy Channing Frye is not the 292nd best player (10th man) in the league. Considering his progress to this point I think he will easily be a top 200 player. This slotting embarrassingly reveals that the national crowd isn't familiar with the situation. Frye apologists man your stations.

P.J. Tucker (#354) is better than a 12th man who should never see the light of day except in circumstances where there is a +/- 20 point disparity on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter... His energy and tenacity are valuable enough to overcome his offensive limitations and at least make him an 8th or 9th man that can contribute to a team. But... the proposition of him starting for the Suns this season is telling of the team's woeful nature.

The encouraging play of Miles Plumlee reveals that he may be able to have a positive impact in limited minutes. He does not appear to be a guy who would be damn near the worst player on any roster in the league. Seriously, he's ranked 36 spots below Beasley...

However, I agree that many of these players are just not that good and won't be surprised if Gortat (the Polish Pillow) underplays his ranking (again). The Suns are likely to duplicate their performance of being a bottom five team. That being said, I still take a little bit of exception to this ESPN/True Hoop compilation (mostly because they truly are ignorant haters).

Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Suns still had a top end talent (Bledsoe - #63) higher than three other teams. The nadir of the league is the Orlando Magic (Nikola Vucevic #97), followed by the Philadelphia 76ers (Thaddeus Young #89) and Utah Jazz (Derrick Favors #68).

Below are the 62 players ranked above Eric Bledsoe

Atlanta Hawks - Al Horford, Paul Millsap

Boston Celtics - Rajon Rondo

Brooklyn Nets - Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson

Charlotte Bobcats - Al Jefferson

Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer

Cleveland Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao

Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki

Denver Nuggets - Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried

Detroit Pistons - Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond

Golden St. Warriors - Stepehn Curry, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Klay Thompson

Houston Rockets - James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons

Indiana Pacers - Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West

Los Angeles Clippers - Chris Paul, Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Lakers - Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol

Memphis Grizzlies - Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph

Miami Heat - LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh

Milwaukee Bucks - Larry Sanders

Minnesota Timberwolves - Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic

New Orleans Pelicans - Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson

New York Knicks - Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler

Oklahoma City Thunder - Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka

Orlando Magic - worst (Nikola Vucevic #97)

Philadelphia 76ers - second worst (Thaddeus Young #89)

Phoenix Suns - fourth worst (Eric Bledsoe #63)

Portland Trail Blazers - LaMarcus Aldridge, Damiam Lillard, Nicolas Batum

Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins

San Antonio Spurs - Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard

Toronto Raptors - Rudy Gay

Utah Jazz - third worst (Derrick Favors #68)

Washington Wizards - John Wall

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Phoenix Suns fans will remember this. As will Minnesota Timberwolves fans.

The honeymoon of a Michael Beasley experience lasts a few months, with more and more doubts sprinkling into our brains as time goes by until the obvious is slapping us in the face - often unexpectedly. (come to think of it, is ANY slap in the face an expected thing?).

Last year, Beasley had a good preseason game or two, just enough to give Suns fans hope that maybe he would be a good rotation player that season.

Michael Beasley did his best impersonation of Denzel Washington in "Man On Fire" last night as he hit shot after shot on his way to 29 points in 33 minutes, including some baskets that didn't look like they had a chance. However, as the old basketball adage states, it's only a bad shot if you miss...right?

Not only that, but Beasley was aggressive and effective on the boards pulling down 10 rebounds to surpass Gortat and Scola, who each had eight a piece, as the leading rebounder.

There was talk all summer and preseason, and even into the season itself, that Beasley was ready to turn the corner and take ownership of himself and his playing legacy.

That proved quite wrong, when Beasley was waived in September of this year before his second season (of a three-year contract) with the Suns.

Before that, the good folks over at the Wolves blog, canishoopus.com, had their own honeymoon period when Beasley arrived as a third-year former #2 pick still just 21 years old.

After one game, who does Beasley have to pass in order to become the best wing in T-wolves history?

Yet, Beasley flamed out there as well. After putting up nearly 20 ppg for a terrible team in 2010-11, he was relegated to bench duty the next season before being released after his four year rookie contract expired. This for the 21st and 22nd years of life for a former #2 overall pick.

And even before that, Beasley was traded away by the HEAT (for 2 second-round picks) just when they wanted to get good again. In the end, the HEAT replaced the 21 year old Beasley's $4 million contract with a midlevel contract for Mike Miller. The HEAT just couldn't find room for Beasley among the new stars they'd signed.

Now, the HEAT have Beasley again - this time on a make-good contract - and the winds of hope and promise are blowing again.

Beasley is dedicating himself to the cause. He wants to succeed. He's hungry.

Beasley, who is signed to a nonguaranteed contract after being bought out by the Phoenix Suns this offseason, entered the game with 4:48 left in the third quarter and converted a three-point play less than two minutes later. He then scored on a breakaway for five consecutive points.

"I'm trying to find my way, but still be myself," Beasley said. "It was fun. It was my first time back, and it felt good to get in there and get up and down."

Ahh, the tease of Beas. You'd think Miami would know about this.

Beasley is apparently so dedicated to improvement, he's inflicting wounds on himself when he messes up.

Upset with himself over a mistake, Beasley started punching himself in the head while running back on defense. He punched himself so hard that he needed treatment after the game from the Heat's trainer. Steel compresses (like the ones cut doctors use in boxing) were applied to Beasley's brow in the locker room.

Of course, a day later Beasley has a different take on the wound, despite what team officials hinted to a reporter the night before.

But Beasley, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and team officials said the wound above Beasley's right eye was the result of an inadvertent blow he took from Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko as he attempted to block a shot in the third quarter, not from a self-inflicted punch.

"I watched the video, and it does look like I knocked the mess out of myself," Beasley said before Friday's preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Sprint Center. "I had everybody in the world calling me and asking, 'Why you so crazy?'"

And, it starts. It begins as a trickle of "whaaa?" moments, progressing to "wut?" moments and eventually on to "WTF!" and "GTFO!" moments.

The only question is how quickly Miami fans and employees get to the GTFO stage.

At least Miami's not paying him any guaranteed money this time, unlike his last three stints in the NBA.

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