No longer a Sun, Steve Nash may still play a big part in the Suns advancing against his new team.


Last week, the first round of the SB Nation 3-on-3 Tournament came to a close and eight teams, including the trio from your Phoenix Suns, advanced. Now it's time for round two.

Check out the mothership for a brief recap, the updated bracket and a preview of round two. Also, remember to follow along with the tournament on the NBA 3on3 StoryStream.

The Suns were the only squad to pull off a true upset in the first round when the team knocked off the Denver Nuggets on the strength of their (pick-and) roll. However, the second round has proven to be a completely different beast as we've already had two big upsets on the first day.

Jump it to see who got knocked out and for a preview of the Suns' second round match-up.

The first match-up of the second round in the Eastern Conference was the 1-9 game between the Chicago Bulls and the Eastern Leftovers. The judges made the Bulls nearly a 4-to-1 favorite to win the series. Likewise in the West, the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs were judged to have the upper-hand against the Western Leftovers, although they were only 2-to-1 favorites to advance. However, both underdogs beat the odds and came out with victories.

Today we have two more great match-ups as the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks face off in the East, while the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves do battle in the West. Check the StoryStream for the results.

On Wednesday, it will be our turn as the Suns march forward with their sling and their stone to challenge the Goliath that is the Los Angeles Lakers 3-on-3 team.

The Suns are represented by Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat. The Lakers counter with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. This doesn't seem fair. However, that's not going to discourage me from telling you the Suns can win this series.

Unlike in the first round series against the Nuggets who featured an all-wing lineup, this one is pretty straightforward and the match-ups are obvious. The Lakers have the edge in talent, but there are weaknesses the Suns can exploit.

We are all familiar with Steve Nash and what he does offensively. His shooting ability and a pick-and-roll partner like Dwight Howard should make him nearly unguardable in this format. However, we also are just as familiar with his defensive shortcomings, and in 3-on-3 play straight-up man-to-man defense is even more important than in 5-on-5 as it is more difficult to send help. Dragic is a little bigger, more athletic and has a more attacking mentality than Nash does, and this is a match-up that favors the Suns.

Dwight Howard is a monster. He's a handful in the post and even more dangerous rolling to the basket. Gortat has excellent mobility but is a tad slender as far as centers go, and he would likely struggle against the brute strength of Howard. However, this isn't necessarily a slam dunk for the Lakers. For one, in 2010-2011 Gortat fared pretty well against Howard (I'm using 2010-11 instead of last season because they only played 26 minutes against each other in 2011-12, compared to 64 minutes in 2010-11). According to NBA.com, Gortat held Howard to 15-34 shooting -- including 8-18 around the rim -- while shooting 7-11 himself. So maybe it's not such a huge mismatch after all. Also, according to the rules players cannot foul out. That means Gortat and company can hack Howard all day long and force him to prove he can hit his free throws, something he has yet to do in his career.

Finally, we have Kobe versus Jared Dudley. Kobe's game is made for 3-on-3. Less players to share the ball with, much more space to operate, Kobe's mid-range, off-the-dribble and post-game would be very difficult for Dudley to defend straight up. However, Kobe is very aware of this, and we all know he has a massive ego and hates the Suns with a burning passion. There's a very good chance he completely ignores his very talented teammates and tries to win the game himself. Especially when he sees Howard go to the line over and over again and miss free throw after free throw. As good as he is, I'll take Kobe going 1-on-3 against a Suns team working as a team. If need be, Dudley could always channel his inner Raja Bell.

Offensively, the Suns would run plenty of Dragic isolations and pick-and-rolls, involving Nash as much as possible. If Dragic torches Nash early, the Lakers may have to send help, in which case whoever they help off of will get some wide open looks.

My prediction: Suns pull off one of the biggest upsets in 3-on-3 history and knock off the Lakers in three games.

Poll
Do the Suns have any shot at pulling this off?

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It's the offseason, and things are incredibly boring in the NBA world.

As I read all about the Suns having informal workouts and pick up games, I got to thinking what it would be like if members had a BSOTS pickup game. Obviously we all live in different parts of the world and so the real thing would never be impossible.

It's the offseason, and things are incredibly boring in the NBA world.

As I read all about the Suns having informal workouts and pick up games, I got to thinking what it would be like if members had a BSOTS pickup game. Obviously we all live in different parts of the world and so the real thing would never be impossible.

I wonder how you BSOTS fare on the basketball court? What sort of basketball experience do you have? What position do you play? Have you ever hit the buzzer beating 3 pointer in a rec league final?

I hope this fan post can generate a bit of fun conversation, and maybe one day we will actually have our pick up game!

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via ic2.pbase.com


I myself am only 16, and have been playing basketball for 3 years. I play for my high school here in Auckland, New Zealand. Last year we were the champions of our province (there are 12 provinces in New Zealand). I play power forward and center, though I am only 190cm (about 6'2-6'3). I am a good shooter from anywhere on the court, and I have a pretty good post game (however, my lack of size and the fact that I am rather skinny can limit me). My biggest strength is passing, particularly from the post. My biggest weakness is that I am smaller and weaker than most of the people I guard, and I don't have the foot speed to guard quicker guards and forwards (though I do guard the slower ones well).

That's me! I'd love to hear from the rest of my BSOTSers!


Editor’s Note: TrueHoop Network contributor Brett Koremenos is a guest writer for ValleyoftheSuns. Follow him on Twitter @BKoremenos. As Phoenix moves forward in the post-Steve Nash era, there...

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Just about everyone on the Suns is hitting the practice floor on a daily basis now, with only two weeks until training camps open and three weeks until the first preseason game.

This long summer of the unknown is about to come to an end!

Michael Beasley and Luis Scola arrived last week to join the rest of the Suns crew already working out together. The only Suns players not already on hand are Marcin Gortat (who less than 2 weeks ago finished an 8-game sked to qualify for Eurobasket 2013 in Slovenia) and 17-year veteran Jermaine O'Neal, he of the one-year minimum contract.

This is the weekly open thread to talk anything Suns.

Will the Suns sign another player or two for look-sees at training camp? A couple of summer league guys are coming, but sometimes the team signs a veteran still looking for work, just to see if he fits into the rotation in any way.

Will we start hearing more and more about who looks good at the pickup games at the Suns arena? Workouts are closed to media for the second year in a row, so we're relegated to third-hand info and occasional suns.com videos. But hey, that's better than nothing!

Is a 5-day training camp enough time to install the offense and defense for what looks like five new regular rotation players? Who knows, but that sure seems short.

Let's get to it!

Just about everyone on the Suns is hitting the practice floor on a daily basis now, with only two weeks until training camps open and three weeks until the first preseason game.

This long summer of the unknown is about to come to an end!

Michael Beasley and Luis Scola arrived last week to join the rest of the Suns crew already working out together. The only Suns players not already on hand are Marcin Gortat (who less than 2 weeks ago finished an 8-game sked to qualify for Eurobasket 2013 in Slovenia) and 17-year veteran Jermaine O'Neal, he of the one-year minimum contract.

This is the weekly open thread to talk anything Suns.

Will the Suns sign another player or two for look-sees at training camp? A couple of summer league guys are coming, but sometimes the team signs a veteran still looking for work, just to see if he fits into the rotation in any way.

Will we start hearing more and more about who looks good at the pickup games at the Suns arena? Workouts are closed to media for the second year in a row, so we're relegated to third-hand info and occasional suns.com videos. But hey, that's better than nothing!

Is a 5-day training camp enough time to install the offense and defense for what looks like five new regular rotation players? Who knows, but that sure seems short.

Let's get to it!


Can these guys hold off Scola and Beasley for PF minutes?

A couple years ago, the Suns had a logjam on the wing. At the end of the 2010 offseason, the Suns were overloaded at the small forward position in particular. Not only did they already employ Grant Hill and Jared Dudley, they had acquired Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu in July.

We spent the rest of that offseason trying to move guys around to make it work, assuming the Suns wanted to give minutes to all five. Childress, Hill and Duds could all spend a little time at shooting guard, we said, since SF and SG were interchangeable in the Suns' offense. In fact, I remember talking myself into Chilly being a straight SG. Don't worry about Warrick, we said, because would be Amare-lite at the PF position. And Hedo? The Suns called him their new starting PF and I, for one, talked myself into that as well. Hedo had played some PF next Dwight Howard, so why not? As we all know now, that roster was flawed in a big way and didn't last two months. All five were truly small forwards at that time.

Fast forward to September 2012. The Suns have had a major roster turnover, and this time it's the power forward position that's overloaded. Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye and Michael Beasley all profile best at PF, and all expect to earn minutes in the regular rotation.

Since there's only 48 minutes available each night at the PF position, let's explore who can shift where.

Disclaimer: for the purposes of this article, Beasley is being classified ideally as a PF because his stats show he is much more effective at PF than SF in his NBA career. That's our starting position, before moving him to SF due to the makeup of the roster.

Before we throw any of these guys into a different spot on the floor, let's review who's already at those spots.

Center: Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal. None of the aforementioned PFs is better at C than Gortat, who will get 30-35 minutes a night. That leaves 13-18 minutes open for O'Neal or anyone else.

Small Forward: Wesley Johnson, P.J. Tucker, Jared Dudley. Dudley will definitely get at least 25 minutes a night, but likely play at least half those minutes at the SG spot. That leaves 36 or more minutes available for Johnson, Tucker or any of the PFs.

Shooting Guard and Point Guard: Dudley, Johnson, Tucker, Shannon Brown, Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall, Sebastian Telfair. All 96 minutes will go to these 7 players. None of the PF candidates profiles as worthy of minutes at shooting guard or point guard. Though Beasley does like to shoot, he is not quick enough to defend a SG or PG for any length of time.

To recap, the available minutes for Scola/Morris/Frye/Beasley are: 48 minutes at PF + 13-18 minutes at C + 36 minutes at SF = 97-105 minutes per night.

The only competition for those 97-105 minutes are Johnson, Tucker and O'Neal.

Sounds simple, right? Scola, Beasley, Frye and Morris can each play about 25 minutes a night at three positions. Problem solved!

Channing Frye

Channing Frye can play either PF or C. In fact, he was most effective in 2009-2010 as the change-of-pace to Robin Lopez at C, and floor-spacer next to Amare Stoudemire. By standing at the 3-point line (and with zone defense being illegal), Frye drew the other team's biggest player outside the paint. This opened the passing and scoring lanes for Nash and Stoudemire's devastating pick-and-roll.

That same thing happened last year, with Frye spacing the floor for Nash and Gortat's pick-and-roll. The only difference being that Frye officially played the PF position because Gortat is a C. But otherwise, it was the same offensive scheme as 2009-2010. Now Dragic takes over the PG spot from Nash. He still runs the p-n-r, but it's more of a drive-and-pop where Dragic is the aggressor rather than the roll man being the aggressor.

Yet the Suns really don't want Frye to play in the same lineup with Dragic and Gortat. That would make Frye a starter. The Suns would rather play Luis Scola or Markieff Morris or Michael Beasley over Frye. The say that because the Suns FO acquired all three in the past 15 months despite having Frye on the roster, so I'm just reading the writing on the wall.

That puts Frye on the second unit at C or PF, most likely next to one of the other three PFs. Let's, for now, chalk Frye up to 12-15 minutes a night as the floor-spacer at PF/C. If Frye regains his 2010 shooting touch, or one or more of the other guys is injured or playing poorly, Frye might get more than that.

Luis Scola

Scola is different than any PF we've seen here in Phoenix in a long time. He has a lot of post moves, likes to back down his man and figures out crafty ways to score around them. He plays about 10 feet from the basket, out to 15 feet. Defensively, he's the PF version of Steve Nash. Can't play effective straight-up defense, relying instead on arts and crafts and smarts to get by. He needs Gortat's help to be really effective.

Scola can be just as effective at C vs. PF, but you really don't want to expose Scola for too long at C simply because he's too undersized to take on the opponent's biggest player. If Scola is playing C, you're employing a small lineup. Great at scoring, bad at defense. Don't be suprised if you see Scola at C in some lineups, surrounded by Frye, Beasley, Dudley and Dragic. You can swap Frye for Johnson for an even smaller lineup.

For now, let's chalk Scola up to 25 minutes a game, with a couple of those being at C.

We have now chalked up 37 minutes a night at PF/C for Frye and Scola. Assuming 12 of those are at C, that leaves only 23 PF minutes a night remaining, plus 36 SF minutes.

Now you see why the Suns are calling Michael Beasley a SF?

Markieff Morris

The big question is which Markieff Morris will we get this season. Is it the brash, confident Morris that started his rookie season making nearly 50% of his threes as the Channing Frye clone? Or the one who hit his rookie wall and nearly lost his rotation spot? Or the guy who dominated the Summer League with a variety of scoring moves and very few three-pointers? The summer Morris was the alpha male, clearly the best player on the court for either team in each game he played.

Summer Morris would earn at least those remaining 23 PF minutes each night, squeezing Scola and Frye down to the bare minimum. Rookie Morris would get lost in the shuffle. If you see a more of Scola in 2012-13 than you expected, it's because Rookie Morris reappeared.

Regardless, Morris doesn't profile at any position other than PF. He could spot time at C, but I think Gentry would rather play O'Neal, Frye or Scola there first.

Can Morris play alongside Frye or Scola in the same lineup? Depends on which Morris shows up. Rookie Morris WAS Frye, so that wouldn't work. No one would be inside 13 feet of the hoop. Rookie Morris could complement Scola though, as the 3-pt floor spacer just like Frye could. If Summer Morris shows up, he would appreciate the floor-spacing Frye provides, but would clash with Scola.

Let's assume Summer Morris shows up this year. Can he play next to Gortat? I would guess so. Gortat is a garbage guy who could clean up Morris' mess when he drives or shoots, and grab passes from Dragic. Morris has never appeared to be a good p-n-r guy. You'd think anyone could be the roll man, but it does take acumen to take the pass on the run and creatively score in traffic.

Michael Beasley

Beasley is a talent. He's a basketball player who can play multiple positions - PF, SF or even some SG. So with three other guys on the roster who really need the PF minutes, Beasley has already been designated the starting small forward (SF).

The problem here is that Beasley is much better at PF. While his skillset - shooting, driving - seem well-suited to the SF position, he settles way too much for contested jumpshots when he's slotted on the wing. Beasley is a major mismatch under the basket, with a variety of smooth moves and ability to finish with either hand. But when he has two bigger teammates on the floor clogging the lane, he just pulls up for jumpers.

Yet that's where Beasley is slotted right now, as the third biggest Suns player on the court most of the time. Playing with Gortat and Morris/Scola, Beasley will see a clogged lane and settle for the easy shot attempt. Gentry can open the lane by playing Frye, or telling Morris to be Rookie Morris, but is that the best PF option?

Does the upside of an aggressive Beasley outweigh the downside of Rookie Morris or Frye standing at the 3-point line all night?

Who knows, but expect to see Beasley at SF for up to 36 minutes a night. If Beas isn't playing well, Johnson or Tucker could take some of those minutes, but otherwise that's what we have.

Summary

Alvin Gentry has a lot of options. And there's a chance that everyone meshes perfectly and the Suns become an unpredicable juggernaut. Scola and Morris would ideally share the PF position, with Fye at floor-spacing backup C and Beasley an aggressive SF.

But it could all be disjointed too. An aggressive Summer Morris might mean a passive, jump-shooting Beasley. Passive Rookie Morris might mean Scola gets a lot of playing time, which also means a clogged lane and passive, jump-shooting Beasley. Maybe Frye gets a lot of PF minutes to clear the lane for Beasley (and Dragic), but then tehe FO has brought in the other three guys to unseat Frye's hold on the PF minutes.

Only time will tell what happens.

I just can't wait for it to start!


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