Two games into the Summer League and the Phoenix Suns are two games over .500, a feat they accomplished exactly zero times last season. With a win tonight they will tie the longest winning streak in the calendar year of 2013 at three games. See, there is something to root for!
Eighth Topic: Five Questions on Summer League
Breaking the Ice: What were your initial thoughts on the Phoenix Suns Summer League debut against the Portland Trail Blazers and subsequently, their second game against the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Jim Coughenour: My biggest takeaway was the positive vibes I got from the front office and coaching staff after the Blazers game. It seemed like genuine excitement rather than the contrived kind from last season. You know, the feigned "I. am. so. happy. meh." routine.
Dave King: It looks like they have come to play, and win games. Marcus said after the last-second win over Minny that they were embarrassed at halftime because there were some NBA starters in their lineup (true enough, Marcus started for both Houston and Phoenix, while Markieff and Tucker started in Phoenix), so they came back to win.
Kris Habbas: Honestly? It is pretty obvious that either in Summer League or the D-League the Morris Twins are superior to their opposition. It is also pretty obvious that Kendall Marshall has a tougher learning curve than even he expected.
Richard Parker: I'm pleased, mostly because I love seeing the Suns win and I know they probably won't be doing much of that during the regular season. Goodwin had one good game and one bad, and that is to be expected. The Morris brothers are playing well for the most part, as is Marshall. Another guy I've been impressed by is Dionte Christmas. And Onuaku has proved to be a solid presence on the boards and in the paint.
Sean Sullivan: I think the players I was hoping to see the most from, the Morri and Marshall, have all stepped up and done fairly well. Goodwin looks like the raw, young rookie we all expected him to be, and Onuaku & Christmas have been the best of the rest.
Seven or so of the actual regular season roster members are playing Summer League this year, what improvements are you looking to see from Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, and P.J. Tucker?
DK: I am looking for Marshall to look like a game-controlling floor leader (and not for him to put up 20 points per game). I want the Morris guys to play like team players, who make their teammates better than when they are on the bench. And I want Tucker to help Hornacek show these guys who to play hard. So far so good, after two games. As far as Goodwin is concerned, I just want to see him show up and flash potential.
KH:For the four returning players with NBA experience there needs to be progression. Marshall needs to raise his release point on his jumper, gain more of a burst off the dribble, and go to the Andre Miller School of Non-Athletic Point Guards. Tucker simply needs to get the Monstars ability to steal powers and take the offensive potential of either Morris Twin to complete his game.
RP: I was hoping to see Marshall be a bit more aggressive in terms of creating offense in the half court, as well as shooting the ball better. He has shown a bit of both already. Although I've been impressed with the Morris brothers, I still have my doubts about their abilities to translate their SL success to the regular season. They both look to be in better shape though, so that's a very good sign. Tucker is basically the same player he was last year and that's ok.
SS: I want to see more scoring, or at least shot attempts from Marshall, so far he's done pretty well in that respect. Tucker has been Tucker (in a good way). And I wanted to see more post play from Markieff, and though he's done well overall, I think that's still lacking.
JC: By "looking", are you implying hoping or expecting? Kendall - increased aggressiveness and improved shooting form. P.J. Tucker - hitting the corner three. The Morri - find identities and develop consistency within them (I'm still not sure these guys know what kind of players they want/need to be).
Of the two rookies that played; what are your thoughts on Archie Goodwin and Alex Oriakhi?
DK: Goodwin is a natural talent who will be a player in this game for a long time, and could be a star if he develops a jumper that's consistent. He's active and instinctive on offense and defense, which is rare, making him the best Suns prospect in a long, long time. For Oriakhi, just play better than Dwayne Collins and Arinze Onuahu.
KH: So far Goodwin has been a talented 18 year old and Oriakhi has played 17 total minutes... The raw talent is there for Goodwin as a defender and slasher, but C.J. McCollum took him to task in the opener and in the next game he seemed to lose his confidence. How about getting Oriakhi on the court?
RP: Archie Goodwin has oodles of raw talent. He has shown it in several instances already but his lack of offensive polish and his young age have also been displayed. I still like him very much and am confident he'll develop into a good player. I have no thoughts on Oriakhi. He has been a non-factor thus far and Onuaku has outplayed him.
SS: Goodwin shows flashes, but still very inconsistent and plays too out of control at times which is no surprise. As for Oriakhi, he's clearly been outperformed by Onuaku thus far. His chances of making the roster aren't looking too good at the moment.
JC: Goodwin was a standout in the first game comparative to incoming expectations. He should be fun to watch mature over the next couple seasons. Oriahki will be in a heated competition among a triumvirate (including Onuaku and Collins) of filler bigs trying to crack the regular season roster.
There was apparently a lot of talk of having Goodwin run some point and that he is a point guard; are you buying that?
KH:I know McDonough mentioned this once, but this is not a school of thought I entertained while watching countless hours of Goodwin in high school, college, and while running the point out of need. He is a two. A combo at best, but definitely not a point guard. Versatility does not have a defined position and that is what Goodwin is; versatile.
RP: I'm buying that they want to try him out at the point, but I don't buy that he'll be a full-time PG. I think he'll be best as a 2-guard that can handle the ball and create offense.
SS: No. I just don't see it at all. I never thought of him as a PG at UK and I still don't now. I think he could be a very good SG in a few seasons with the right development though.
JC: Obviously he isn't a pure point guard, but a team can operate without one. George Hill is a good example in Indiana. If Goodwin can get to the basket and create his own offense it will help mask less than elite facilitating abilities. Depending on his backcourt counterpart and the possibility of a point forward in the mix, I can see Goodwin succeeding at the point on a situational basis. Also, he's only 18, so who knows what his game will look like in five years.
DK: Not yet. He can get his own shot any time, that's for sure. But I haven't seen the passing yet.
Should the team focus more on the guys they know are going to make the roster or those that might have an outside chance? Explain.
RP: Ideally, it would be a mix of both. However, the Suns' roster is nearly full already I have no problems with them focusing on developing the young guys that will be part of the team's rotation during the regular season.
SS: A little of both. I would like to see more from Onuaku, Christmas, and Oriakhi...but I think those are the only guys who have a shot of making the roster, so the rest of the minutes I'd rather see go to our rookies and players who are already on the roster but still need more development.
JC: It's a really good experience for Goodwin, so I'd like to see him get as much burn as possible. I guess there may be a chance for a big to make the regular season roster so some time there makes sense, the Morri have been through this routine before. It's pretty unlikely to stumble on a legitimate NBA talent in a Summer League invite, but then again... P.J. Tucker.
DK: I think they should just focus on their system, and getting the guys to buy in to a hustling, fast-paced game. Doesn't matter who plays, just that they commit and play hard.
KH: If they feel there is a P.J. Tucker out there, yes, but otherwise this is a chance for new Head Coach Jeff Hornacek to evaluate his young players. He needs to get a feel and more importantly set boundaries for his young talent.
BONUS: Up next are the Memphis Grizzlies featuring the opaque talent Tony Wroten (12 PPG 3.5 APG 5-23 FG)... What do you expect to see in this match-up?
SS: I think we'll see more positives from Goodwin in this game. I'm not sure what happened against Minny, but I think he'll bounce back.
I also expect to see Christmas and Onuaku really get their chances to shine as I think Markieff and Tucker could begin having their minutes reduced.
JC: Another Suns win. I was surprised that they dug a hole they almost couldn't claw out of against the Wolves. The Suns are starting four regular season rotation players... so they should be competitive. It will be interesting to see if Christmas (especially) and Onuaku get heavy minutes again or if Hornacek gives other players extended playing time.
DK: I expect the Suns to come out flat, and then fight to win the game in the fourth, just like the first two games.
KH: An interesting difference between the Suns and the Grizzlies (in Summer League) is the element of raw athleticism. Other than Goodwin, the Suns are out-athleted at every position and that should be an interesting factor in this match-up. The Suns could cement themselves in the new SL Playoffs with a win so that is obviously the goal here, right?
RP: I'm hoping to see another good outing from the Suns. I'd really like the Morris brothers and Marshall to show some consistency and for Goodwin to get some touches to display his scoring ability.