Pretty simple concept here. I asked new Phoenix Sun Isaiah Thomas and GM Ryan McDonough to give a scouting report on the team's terrible triumvirate of guards so I could examine the comparative and contradistinctive qualities. It's the Match Game!
Media day is a
tedious process great opportunity for players and personnel within the Suns organization to regurgitate the shampoo algorithm as they answer and re-answer rehashed versions of the same questions to a mind-numbing degree.
Actually, it's not as weary as that makes it sound. Most of the people there seemed to have a pretty good time.
T.J. Warren didn't.
But the induction of T.J. into the Eric Bledsoe stoicism cult isn't the focus of this post. The focus of this post is something even less relevant to the upcoming season.
Like I mentioned, there is no shortage of duplicate content at these types of functions, so this is one of the
inane ideas I came up with to break up the monotony.
It's the Match Game!
That picture looks a little scrawny... unlike the chiseled Archie Goodwin.
Here's how this goes. I cornered Isaiah in a tunnel outside of the main media staging area on the team's practice court and asked him to give scouting reports on his new point guard peers. I'm pretty sure he was sneaking off to go the bathroom, but he couldn't evade my furtive stalking.
Then I was able to ask Ryan for scouting reports later during the session, after prefacing that I'd already asked the same questions to Isaiah previously.
The point was to see how closely their evaluations matched, how banal the talking points were and maybe do a little profiling to look past the words into their cognitive processes... since my personal slant is obviously more important than the explicit content.
Maybe try this before you read on... Give a ~50 word scouting report of each player to see how your analysis matches the ones below. Think of it as an audience match exercise.
Isaiah: Dragic is a strong left handed guard who likes to be in attack mode. He's always in attack mode, so he keeps defenders on their toes. He can drive and kick. He makes the right play at all times. He's somebody that's just very aggressive.
Ryan: Goran's ability to attack the basket, especially in transition, stands out. He pushes the ball as well as anybody in the league. He's fearless going to the basket. He had an unbelievable year shooting the ball last year. He was extremely efficient. He's kind of the heart and soul of our team in a lot of ways, just the passion and fire he plays with is infectious.
First off, notice that McDonough uses Goran's first name while Thomas refers to him as Dragic. This trend continues through the rest of the snippets. I'm assuming part of that is because Isaiah is still acclimating to his new environment and teammates while Ryan is more familiar with everyone and his surroundings.
Isaiah mentions that Goran is left handed. That's kind of important because there aren't that many lefties in the league, especially that bring what Isaiah and Goran do to the table. Guards like Mike Conley and Brandon Jennings may be closest. James Harden and Manu Ginobili are left handed, but don't play with the speed of the Suns guards. I'm sure there are other good examples, but researching that isn't the point of my gimmicky article. What this means is that the Suns can throw out two backcourt lefties that are better than any other duo in the league.
Next we'll note attack mode, aggressive and on their toes. Isaiah uses these words ad nauseum. When I asked him what his favorite foods were he responded, "Attack mode, aggressive and on their toes." Coruscating consistency.
McDonough's report was a little more thorough, as were the others - he's a little more prolix. He touches on Goran's great transition skills, which are an elite part of Dragic's skill set, and his overall offensive efficiency. Ryan will come back to that efficiency theme later. I think that last part about Goran's intensity on the court is important, too. I feel P.J. Tucker is another good example of a player on the team that imposes his will on the game. They are both great on court leaders.
Match Game performance: Both allude to Goran being an attack style player. That fills in the blank with "attack". I'll also accept aggressive/fearless. Two points awarded.
Isaiah: Eric Bledsoe is one of the best two way guards in the NBA. He defends. He's a very athletic guard that is getting better at shooting and learning how to run a team. He's somebody that is also very aggressive and in attack mode.
Ryan: I think Eric has the potential to be one of the best two way guards, best two way players in the entire league. His ability to defend the ball with his length and strength and agility is really impressive. He's a terrific pick and role player. I think he learned a lot from Chris Paul in terms of how to stop and start and get defenders off balance. He's a guy who breaks down the defense and creates a lot of good shots for himself and for other teammates.
Right off the bat the two way guard mention resonates. The defensive prowess of Isaiah and Goran never came up, but it was the first thing mentioned by both Thomas and McDonough in their impromptu analysis. This is a very important part of Bledsoe's game. He has great tools to play defense and has the chance to be a truly elite defender if he can shore up the mental side of dominating that end of the court.
The word learning comes up in both replies, too. Isaiah points more to the fact that Bledsoe is still improving while Ryan gravitates more towards lessons learned. McDonough seems to really hammer down positive points of Eric running the offense in half court sets. Neither of the other guards elicited those types of plaudits from McDonough. On the other hand, though, Isaiah was complimentary of Goran's ability to run an offense, but didn't mention that with Eric. Interesting.
Of course aggressive and attack mode popped up again. On their toes was conspicuously absent.
Match Game performance: Two way guard and defend jump off the page. I'm also going to award athletic/agility and learning. That's four points. Great job guys.
Isaiah: I go at any and everybody. I try to keep everybody on their toes, keep the defense guessing and don't take any plays off. That's my game, and it's kind of similar to theirs as well.
Ryan: Isaiah is a guy who has been extremely efficient. He's a guy we were always scared of when we were playing against Sacramento. We preferred it when he was on the bench rather than on the court. He'd come in and he'd just change the game. At 5'9" he doesn't look the part, but he's just so efficient. He's a self made player. Nothing was ever given to Isaiah, he's earned this every step of the way. There are only a handful of guys in this league who averaged 20 points and six assists a game and to do that as efficiently as he did is impressive.
The tandem kind of hit the wall here.
Of course Isaiah mentioned keeping everybody on their toes... His repetitive themes would really seem like platitudes by now if they weren't so true. I think we need to get him coached up on some more diverse vocabulary. Maybe ferocious or relentless... Easy stuff.
Another thing I noticed is that McDonough emphasized efficiency with both Dragic and Thomas... but not with Bledsoe. Thomas also mentioned that Bledsoe is still getting better at shooting. Sure seems like a trend that he has room for improvement on the offensive end. Even when Ryan talked about him running the offense it was secondary to his defense.
Most of Ryan's response seemed more like a vague complimentary generalization than a scouting report... a press conference spiel. He did mention efficiency first and last, so I think that is a recurring theme in what appeals to McDonough about Thomas's game.
I thought that Ryan might mention Isaiah's role as a vocal leader. When I was talking with Thomas after we got this part out of the way he told me that the Suns had discussed this with him. The team had players that led by example on the court, but not a lot of guys that took charge off of it. They expect him to be that leader. But alas, it wasn't to be.
Match Game performance: Slim pickings. I'll take earning it/not taking any plays off. One point.
If they would have both hit on something like persistence, pertinacity, assiduousness or determination they might have made the bonus round. Tough buckets.
What are your thoughts? Anything else that you noticed from the quotes? Anything that should have been an indispensable part of even a terse evaluation? How would you have done in the audience match?
Here are two more videos with the head honchos.
They will auto-play, but you can click the Playlist in the upper left for a bit of control.