This year the Phoenix Suns have a lot of options in terms of roster flexibility and there has been a phrase that new head coach Jeff Hornacek has been using this summer. He has the luxury, or burden depending on the individual outlook, of carving out this team in his image with little to no hand-cuffs, even as a first year head coach.

The image he has been painting the verbal picture for the past few months is that of a team that will runs, scores off of energy, and plays the right way overall on both ends of the floor. All things that about 29 other teams want to do.

In order to get there Coach Hornacek is going to, in his words, "tinker around."

IT WOULD BE NICE IF WE WENT OUT THERE, HAD A LINE-UP THAT WORKS EVERY NIGHT, A BENCH THAT WORKS EVERY NIGHT, AND WE DON'T HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES. -Coach Hornacek on the rotation

Last year the team acquired Marcus Morris, brother of 2011 No. 13 Overall Pick Markieff Morris, in an effort to add more young talent. The potential ripple effects of adding Marcus to the fold was that he would ignite his brother and the Suns would have the opportunity to capture lightning in a bottle. When the two played together in college they were one of if not the best duo in the game playing off one another to dominate games.

It is hard enough to get two brothers to share an XBox remote playing a game let alone get them to share the spotlight of a basketball career. These two are different. They want to play with each other as they have their entire careers to date and Coach Hornacek and the Suns are going to give them that chance again.

The team has questions all over the roster, but the three and the four, the forwards, seem to be the most in the air based on comments by the coaches and the pre-season to date.

So far Markieff, Marcus, P.J. Tucker (last years starting three), Miles Plumlee, and Gerald Green have all started at least one game at one of the two forward positions. There is uncertainty at the forward position as to who starts, who plays, and what the roles will be for each team going into the season. The logical long-term option would be to give the Morrii a chance as the youngest combination, former lottery picks, and as the duo with the most potential as well as experience playing with each other.

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During their time at Kansas the duo went 68-6 overall and 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament as starters. They were dynamic for their positions and caused mismatches nightly.

What made the Morrii unique and special was that they did things that other players at their position could not do. Marcus, a combo forward, was capable of handling the ball a little, score in the paint, and rebound the ball from either the three or the four position. He was a classic tweener coming out of college, not big or strong enough to play in the paint for 30 minutes a night, but also not quick or skilled enough to play on the perimeter for those same minutes nightly. That makes for a versatile player, but it also limits the gameplan when he is on the court. In the end he is a small-ball four that will play some at the three in the NBA as seen in Houston and now in Phoenix.

Markieff was the counter-balance. He was another tweener, but from the four and the five which is easier to fit into a gameplan. In his final season with Kansas Markieff was the Big 12's best rebounder by total rebounds (316), per game (8.3), and percentage (19.7) proving to be the leagues best rebounding and defensive big man prospect.

In college they balanced each other out, against non-comparable competition, but nonetheless they each carved out roles.

I WOULD GUESS WITH OUR GROUP, MAYBE ALL YEAR LONG, WE WILL TINKER WITH THINGS. -Coach Hornacek on seasonal changes


Marcus was the scorer and Markieff was the rebounder defender that catapulted the duo into the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. Over time Markieff was seen as the better long-term prospect because of his rebounding and defensive potential. He had the size to play the four and lampoon the five at times. That was the idea when he was drafted one spot ahead of his more offensively skilled brother to the Suns and onto a team that was attempting to fill the void of the loss of Amare Stoudemire.

The one common element that made the Morrii a productive duo at Kansas was the threat of the three-point shot. It was something in their back pocket as a pace change, like a change-up in baseball, and made them hard to guard.

In college each brother shot the ball exceptionally well from the field. Marcus (55.5%) and Markieff (55.3%) were efficient from the field and both played inside the three-point line. Back then Markieff was a true post player and popped out for a three (40.4%) from time to time (5.5:1 two-to-three point shot ratio) to keep the defense off balance. His threes were rationed and more meaningful. Since coming to the NBA he has shot 40.4% from the field, same as his three-point percentage in college with a 3.2:1 two-to-three point shot ratio.

The three-point shot has become more of their identifier versus the change-up that kept the defense on their toes.

Shooting is an important element for an NBA team for spacing and overall court balance. Through two seasons in the NBA the Morrii have shot their share of threes (508 combined), but have not produced (34.6% collectively) from behind the arc. Since they were drafted Markieff has logged more minutes and starts shooting 34.1% from three (40.4% from the field) providing little spacing as a "stretch-four."

From the field Marcus (41.0%) and Markieff (40.4%) have become less efficient players overall as well. They provide shooting, but so far not in a positive way.

With Coach Hornacek "tinkering around" with things one element he mentioned was playing the Morrii together. They got very little time together in this system in Training Camp and in the pre-season to date. Last year however they logged 132 minutes together as a three-four duo with a center on the floor with them according to 82games.com data. Those line-ups had an effective plus/minus of -36 and an overall win record of 5-11 based on the data collected.

There were very effective line-ups last year, but in the time the brothers shared on the court last season they were not as dynamic as they were back in Lawrence.

Shooting aside they just looked uncomfortable on an NBA floor together. To date Markieff has been the more productive NBA player, but throughout their careers playing together Marcus has always been the better half. It was that way in high school and in college.

Coach Hornacek has a full season to see if the Morrii Experiment can work at this level.

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Based on the projected starters for every other NBA team and the individual career shooting numbers the Morrii would be the least efficient starting forward duo in the league in terms of field goal percentage. With Marcus at the three and Markieff at the four the Suns would be one of five teams in the entire league with a three shooting under 45% and a four shooting under 50% for their careers.

A basic baseline for shooting at the three is about 45% for an average-to-good shooter and 50% at the four. In fact, if you factor out Wesley Johnson, the Lakers projected starting three, Marcus would have the lowest career field goal percentage entering the season for a starting three and Markieff is the lowest shooting four entering the season. As a rookie Cody Zeller is not factored, but in college he did shoot 59% from the field.

The team can go in numerous directions with the starting three and four, including the Morrii, but there are other combinations that are equal or better in terms of shooting.

A P.J. Tucker (47.4%) and Markieff would be an improvement in overall field goal percentage, but gives them little spacing as Tucker is inconsistent as a shooter from three-point range, especially from the weak-side corner. Re-introducing Channing Frye (44.5%) to the starting line-up with Marcus would be better and with Tucker would be statistically the best combination. The forward positions are up in the air with no player taking the reigns and standing out in the pre-season as a locked in starter.

There is a lot of tinkering that can be done here still. Long-term the Morrii are the youngest players with the most potential as Tucker (28) and Frye (30) are on the back nine of their careers.

If the Morris brothers can learn to share court time as productive and cohesively as their matching tattoos then all this tinkering will be well worth the time.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

If you're reading this and aren't brand new to this forum then you should know that we are under the SB Nation umbrella. Then that umbrella is under the Vox Media cloud. At least I think that's how the hierarchy works. Sometimes it's hard to see way up there from the bottom - especially with that umbrella obstructing my view. Anyway, a partnership has been established with Gameday Depot to handle the apparel between the concatenated sites within the SB Nation network. That means in addition to our inimitable site you can purchase attire specific to any other site.

Now... please don't traduce me for being a shill for the man (even though shamelessly I am).  Obviously, whenever an entity sells something to a consumer someone is turning a profit... rest assured that someone is not me.

But... I really like my t-shirt (I've got the white one in the cover art) to the point that I've just about worn it out over the last year or so.  They gave us staff writers (sorry for being late to the party Sreekar) a freebie for doing (about) a dozen hours of training related to the SB Nation United launch. Yes, we do all kinds of things behind the scenes to make this bad boy hum.  That's almost two dollars an hour considering these financial considerations... (but it's a labor of love)

Standard price is $16.99.  2XL ($1.50) and 3XL ($2.00) are slightly more expensive.

I live in Arizona and my price for a medium is $16.99 for a medium with a $4.95 flat fee for shipping, which is the cheapest option, and no tax.  That brings the total to $21.94.  $22 for a t-shirt isn't that bad.  Of course shipping considerations will vary based on planetary location.

Now the nebulous and somewhat disconcerting area of size discrepancy.  Nothing like ordering a shirt online to find that it doesn't fit.  All shirts sizes are not created equal...

I'm 5'8" and 140 lbs (slender muscular build) and a medium fits me very well. Jacob 6'0" and 165 lbs & Dave 6'0" and slightly heavier (remember when I wrote that I used to guess people's weight at a carnival in a former life?  I lied.) both wear a large that both have told me fit.  Jacob says his is slightly loose, but that's the way he likes it... I would call Dave a medium build.  Kris (also 6'0") is slightly stockier than Dave and comfortably wears an XL.

On a completely useless sidenote, Sean (7'0" and 290 lbs) wears a 4XL that fits ok, but is a little short.  If you're about 6'8" then disregard that completely useless part and ask for a 4XL.

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If you want to check it out just go to the more tab on the header and select store as I have illustrated in the above screenshot.

We don't have to stick with the status quo on these, either.  Want one of the older BSotS logos?  We can do that. Want different colors?  We can do that.  Want brand new designs inspired by our creative, technologically savvy members? We can do that.

If you're handy with Illustrator or Photoshop, the best way to get designs up in your store is to send the original art files to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Vectors (Illustrator and the like) are always best, but if you need to use bitmap art (Photoshop and others), it's best if it's at 300 DPI and at least the same size as it will be on the shirt. Most of our designs are between 9" and 10" wide.

If you're not handy with Illustrator or Photoshop, you can use our online design tool, which can be found here: http://custom.gamedaydepot.com/sbnation/DesignStudio/Home. The short version of what to do when you get there is this: Make your design on the color of tee you want, put it in your cart (so we can retrieve it), and then email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to let us know it's there. There are more details on how to use the designer in this short video tutorial: http://www.screencast.com/t/b2kwpekf.

Old_logo_medium

I know they have this on file on an orange shirt.  I'm sure we can send them other retired logos if we want to go old school.

Thanks for reading my pitch. Now go buy a shirt.

Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic suffered a nasty-looking ankle sprain Thursday night in a game against the Sacramento Kings and will sit out the next few days to rest an injury described as...

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Summing It Up

The Phoenix Suns dropped their second straight preseason game, losing at Sacramento 107-97. The Suns dominated on the glass (50-39) and shot better from the field (48-43 edge in shooting percentage with four more made field goals), but they doubled up the Kings in turnovers (28-14) and the free-throw disparity was laughable (the Suns were 7-20 while the Kings were 26-36).

Not only did the Suns lose the game, but they also lost point guard Goran Dragic to an ankle injury early in the second half.

Telling the Story

The Suns jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead, but Sacramento answered with a 12-2 run of their own to take a 15-12 lead. Phoenix tied the game at 17-17 on an Eric Bledsoe technical free throw before taking a 19-17 lead on a jumper by Markieff Morris. However, the Kings scored the last eight points to lead 25-19 after one quarter of play.

The Suns scored the first two buckets of the 2nd quarter to trim the lead to two, but the Kings pushed it back to six at 31-25. Phoenix tied it back up at 31-apiece, but then things began to go wrong. Sacramento built a double-digit lead, outscoring the Suns 22-11 to go up 53-42. The Suns scored on each of their last four offensive possessions (a post-up by P.J. Tucker, a 20-foot pull-up by Eric Bledsoe, another post-up by Tucker and a drive and scoop shot by Bledsoe) and got a couple stops to keep themselves in the game heading into the break.

DeMarcus Cousins was a monster in the first half, destroying everyone he matched up with and getting to the free-throw line at will. He finished with 23 points and seven rebounds at the break. His final stat line reads 29 points, nine rebounds and 13-18 from the stripe in 27 minutes as he didn't need to play much in the second half.

The Second half got off to a rough start. The Suns badly missed their first three shots (all long jumpers) and turned the ball over once while the Kings scored twice, stretching the lead back to double digits at 61-50. Then things went from bad to worse, as Goran Dragic rolled his ankle on a drive while being fouled by Jimmer Fredette. Dragic was carried off the court and was shortly after taken back to the locker room. The official word was a sprained ankle and he was done for the night.

With Dragic out of the line-up and Bledsoe running the show at the point, the two teams traded buckets over the next three minutes. Then Bledsoe orchestrated a 6-0 run with a bucket and two assists to bring the Suns within four at 67-63.

Following a Kings timeout, the game devolved into Jimmer Time. The Suns left the former college superstar open again and again, and Fredette made them pay like he was still at BYU. Fredette hit three long 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the third, then hit two more and scored 10 in the fourth to give him 21 total points, all coming after halftime.

The Suns were only down seven at the start of the fourth quarter, but things quickly got out of hand and the Kings cruised to an easy 17-point victory.

Standout Performers

  • Kings' Dynamic Duo: I already mentioned the dominant games by Cousins and Fredette.Those two had nearly half the Kings' points (50 of 107) between them.
  • Markieff Morris: Markieff Morris was the only Sun to truly have a good game. He went off early, scoring 11 quick points in a variety of ways. He knocked down jumpers, showed off a post move or two and crashed the offensive glass. Toss in a couple nice passes and a few hustle plays and you have Keef's best performance of the preseason. Final line: 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, 7-8 shooting and 1-1 from deep in 23 minutes. He single-handedly outscored the two Kings power forwards (Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson) 15-13.
  • Um... Shannon Brown: Shannon actually had a pretty decent game. He finished with 11 points on 5-8 shooting. He made a nice mid-range catch-and-shoot jumper and had a couple nice finishes at the basket. He only showed a glimpse or two of the bad Shannon (I can only remember one really bad play), although the 1-4 shooting from the charity stripe hurts a little bit.

Final Thoughts

  • While Dragic and Bledsoe scored fairly efficiently (20 points on 9-14 shooting combined) they really struggled to run the team and get the offense flowing tonight. Dragic had six turnovers and only three assists, while Bledsoe finished with four turnovers and five assists. They never found a rhythm when they played together tonight, and when one sat down the other one over-dribbled and struggled to create anything. I am a believer in this backcourt, but tonight definitely wasn't their best outing.
  • The officiating tonight was atrocious. The disparity in free throws (36-20) and fouls called (18-30) should speak for itself. At one point, Kings center Hamadi Ndiaye all but hip-checked Marcus Morris out of bounds as he slid over late trying to cut off the baseline. They called a charge. The Suns lost this game all by themselves through poor offensive play, but they definitely weren't playing on an even playing field.
  • Alex Len and Archie Goodwin still have a long way to go. Len was eaten alive by the Kings' bigs. He looked slow and weak out there trying to defend Cousins and Thompson. Both he and Goodwin have yet to adjust to the speed of the NBA game. Suns fans are going to have to have patience with them.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

The Suns played their worst game of the preseason. They committed 24 turnovers and 30 personal fouls in a 107-90 defeat, but their biggest loss was an injury to starting guard Goran Dragic. Dragic...

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