The night started off well. Everyone was happy to see each other. Alvin Gentry joked with the local media before the game, quipped that he had "eight great years here... I was here nine, remember."

And it ended well, with the deep bench scrapping and clawing to cut the big Clippers lead to 1 with 38.6 seconds left. A 30% full stadium cheered louder than I've heard since the Lakers game last spring. Hornacek's ragtag lineups didn't ever give up, and found a way to get the crowd on their feet, screaming to close out the game.

Former Suns forward Louis Amundson got a nice dunk to give the Clips a late 3-point lead and then Kendall Marshall got blocked on a drive. After getting hacked on the fast break, the Clippers' Willie Green made a couple of free throws to ice the game.

But at least it was interesting, which is more than can be said of last year. The Suns did not give up - finding a way to make it tight at the end, even with the deep bench.

Jeff Hornacek was still experimenting with lineups tonight. Before the game he talked of the twin tower look he started with Plumlee and Gortat.

"We'll find out a little tonight," he said, of whether Plumlee can play the four position. "Probably the best lineup for [Plumlee] is at the 5 spot with a stretch guy. But we'll play several teams with two big guys, so we have to find out if he can play the 4. If not him, then can we move Gortat to the 4? Or if Alex Len is in the game, can we move one to the 4. We'll just have to see how it's going to work."

The Clippers started Jared Dudley, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, while Redick and Blake Griffin were out hurt.

Chris Paul had two assists on his first two possessions, while the Suns worked a two-man game to expose Byron Mullens in the post. Dragic took the ball on the side to pass into Plumlee in the post.

Paul accounted for nearly all the Clippers points (3 assists, 8 points), possibly to make a point to Eric Bledsoe that he can still dominate the younger player, on the way to a 17-7 early lead that didn't look as close as the score. The Suns, as you can guess, came out tentative rather than aggressive, like they will need to be this season.

DeAndre Jordan had two early blocks to help the Clippers extend their lead, making the Suns tentative in the paint despite starting two 6'11" guys.

Paul had 13 points and 3 assists, the Clips with a big lead, before Eric Bledsoe was able to steal the ball away from Paul for a breakaway playup. The whole first 8 minutes felt like the Paul vs. Bledsoe show, where Paul reminded Bledsoe who was boss.

Loouuuuuu and Duds were on the court for the last few minutes of the first quarter, making plays exactly as Suns fans remember them. Lou with a good rebound in traffic, Dudley with a second-effort breakaway finish.

And then Shannon Brown stepped in, and immediately got himself into a dribble tantrum where he dribbled around the wing, into a defenders area, and then took a contested two. Luckily, Lou fouled him on the way back down.

Amundson committed three fouls in his first three minutes, by the way. Just by being Lou.

Jared Dudley had a really good exorcism first half by scoring every time he got the ball. His only miss, a fastbreak layup in traffic, he got his own o-board and put it back in. His five makes included a very long two and a pair of threes on the wing.

"They're going to have to box out," Hornacek said of his guys. "A guy like Miles, in practice does the same thing a lot of guys do - if you don't box them out, they get the rebound. He's actually made our guys box out, get used to doing that. So hopefully we'll keep that up."

The Suns did not keep that up early in this game, getting outrebounded 11-4 in the first 10 minutes, and 26-12 deficit by halftime.

"You would think that after 3-4 exhibition games," Hornacek said of the rotation. "Guys would separate themselves. But every guy that gets in there has done well."

Except for tonight, when the Clippers played like they really wanted to play basketball, at a level of execution the Suns had not seen yet this preseason. Very few Suns players looked good in the first half against the Clippers. Outrebounded 26-12. Out-blocked 6-1. Out assisted 15-10. And outscored 63-47.

To be fair, the Suns played a lot of weird lineups that they hadn't tried before, while the Clippers top 6 players got regular minutes and then some. So there's that. The top six Clips played at least 13 minutes apiece, while only two Suns reached that mark (Plumlee and Bledsoe).

The second half was a different story altogether. It's as if the Suns and Clippers decided to play entirely differently at halftime. The Clippers came out with the same lineup but were flat, while the Suns turned up the effort behind Bledsoe and scrambled into a comeback that saw the Clips only score 3 points in 8 minutes while the Suns cut the 16-point lead to 3.

Then Chris Paul woke back up and scored 4 points to steady the Clips as the quarter drew to a close. Archie Goodwin switched onto Paul after that, but Goodwin got the steal as Paul tried to shake and bake the taller player. Guessing Paul won't let that happen again.

On the next possession, Paul dipped and weaved into a great alley oop to DeAndre Jordan for a 7 point Clipper lead. By the end of three, it was back to 10 points and the Clippers never allowed the score to get any closer as Jordan stayed out there into the fourth and then Chris Paul came back at the 8 minute mark.

The Suns did not help themselves by playing lineups that just didn't work together. There were so many substitutions that it was hard to keep everything straight.

When Kendall Marshall came in, you knew the game was a "tryout" for minutes the rest of the way. He teamed up with Goodwin, Green, Plumlee and Marcus Morris. And then Kravtsov comes in. Where's Christmas?

Crowds love breakaway dunks even more than anticipated threes. Plumlee and Green both got big dunks in the 4th, eliciting bigger cheers than any other play tonight. Let's hope the Suns can have more of these nights - at least exciting the crowd that stays late into a big loss to a good team. That would be a step up from last year.

Game notes:

First half

  • Markieff Morris "grabbed" a rebound that hit him in the stomach (where he hadn't raised his hands for the carom) and then on the other end faked an open three and instead drove a couple of steps into a running, one-handed 15 footer. I mean, what could go wrong with that shot selection?
  • Play got sloppy when each team went to their deep benches, with the Suns sporting Shannon Brown and Ish Smith together to "run the show".
  • By mid second, Markieff had been beaten for at least two rebounds for not putting his hands up when the shot came off the rim. He hustled otherwise, but really needs to hone that "get your hands up for rebounds" skill.
  • Dragic and Bledsoe came back late in the second and had a nice possession with Bledsoe swinging the ball over to an open Dragic at the 3-point line. I can see that happening a lot this season because Dragic can easily put the ball on the floor if the defense over-reacts on a close out.
  • The Suns at one point cut the lead to 5 at 45-40, but then Chris Paul ran a nice pick and roll to set up Jordan and then set up Jared Dudley for an open three (that was counted as a two with Dudley's toe on the line).
  • Channing Frye had some real nice shots for three, making 3 of 5 threes against the slow close outs by fellow stretch-four Mullens.
  • Suns weak side defense on the pick and roll was terrible, leaving Dudley open over and over for 2-2 on threes, plus that long two with his toe on the line.
  • This is an example of how tough it will be for the Suns this season against good teams, by the way
  • Halftime: Frye leads Suns with 11 points. Bledsoe has 6 points, 6 assists and 3 steals (along with 2 turnovers), while Dragic has 10 points and 1 assist. Plumlee had a bad half, while DeAndre Jordan looked bigger than anyone on the court (5 blocks at half)

Second half

  • Rivers is not even coaching the second half, by the way. Gentry has taken over coaching duties.
  • Markieff Morris gets the second half start over Plumlee, gets an early offensive rebound. Suns get three o-boards on first possession.
  • Morris got another o-board and putback layup. He's the difference!
  • Tucker quickly gets his third and fourth fouls on new "points of emphasis" calls on perimeter
  • Tucker bricks two straight corner threes. THAT'S why he can't start with Bledsoe and Dragic
  • Gortat is actually boxing out Jordan this half. In other news, Clippers are not nearly as dialed in this half.
  • Suns have missed three open threes this half already, all wide open, all right before they wanted it (Tucker x2, Bledsoe). Dragic finally makes one to cut the Clipper lead to 10.
  • Suns are looking much more active in rotations, making Clippers go to fourth, fifth options. Bledsoe leading the energy charge.
  • Paul is so good at drawing contact on his shot even when in a bad position
  • Morris with ANOTHER o-board, followed by Dragic open three. Lead cut to 7.
  • Then Suns force shot clock violation. They are worked up!
  • Dragic has a good drive/dish to Gortat, drawing Jordan to him for the easy Polish layup
  • More hustle from the Suns, more points as a result
  • Markieff Morris having a very positive impact on the Suns in the second half.
  • Clippers had only 3 points in the third Q through eight minutes until a Chris Paul long jumper.
  • Paul helped steady the Clippers to retake a 10-point lead, basically going one on one for jumpers against Goodwin and Bledsoe.
  • Gerald Green trying some hero ball, driving the rock to the hoop but not putting up a good shot.
  • Clippers rode the Hollins and Mullens duo to the end, with good results because Paul stayed in the game to control the ball
  • Crowds love breakaway dunks even more than anticipated threes. Plumlee and Green both got big dunks in the 4th, eliciting bigger cheers than any other play tonight. Let's hope the Suns can get more of these nights - at least exciting the crowd that stays late into a big loss to a good team. That would be a step up from last year.
PHOENIX – Alvin Gentry’s final months as the Phoenix Suns head coach weren’t ideal. The end of a long tenure in Phoenix didn’t come smoothly. But as the always upbeat Alvin Gentry...

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It's not often that a preseason game is something to look forward to, but that's exactly what we have here.

Clearly in an effort to rest up for the undefeated Suns tonight in Phoenix, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Matt Barnes all sat out a loss to Sacramento Kings last night while former Suns Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson scored 4 points between them in 39 minutes of play.

But tonight, the fight is on. Surely, the Suns will see the best of the Clippers, but that likely won't be good enough to stop the juggernaut that is Phoenix Suns Preseason Basketball.

Back to reality

While it's true that all those guys took last night off, it doesn't mean they are gearing up for the Suns either. Preseason is a time for experimenting, and for giving minutes to guys who won't see them once the regular season starts. Teams are looking for someone(s) to step up to play a bigger role than originally envisioned. Preseason is also about staying healthy, as a quick check of the league's injury report can attest.

Expect the unexpected. It's still the preseason after all.

About the Suns lineup

In three preseason games, the Suns have started 3 different shooting guards (Eric Bledsoe/Goran Dragic, Shannon Brown, Archie Goodwin) and 3 different small forwards (P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green). The point guard spot has seen Goran Dragic start twice, while Eric Bledsoe started once.

Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat have been the only two mainstays in three games, at power forward and center respectively, though they have each been subbed out liberally throughout the game.

Looks like it's time to start experimenting with different front court lineups in the starting roles. My guess is that Hornacek will go with a big man lineup against the high-flying Clippers, and will start Miles Plumlee or Alex Len at C with Channing Frye sliding into the starting PF spot for a night in his first home game of the season,* or Gortat will shift to PF as he has recently requested for a chance of pace.

*It's also possible that Hornacek will wait to bring Frye into the game as a backup so he can get his own round of applause outside the hoopla of the starting lineup intros.

About the Clippers lineup

Who knows what the Clippers want to do, but my guess is that all the guys who sat last night will play tonight. That includes 2 All-Stars - Griffin and Paul, a shot-blocking extraordinaire in Jordan and another former Suns player Matt Barnes.

With the Clippers liberally sitting guys out, it wouldn't be a surprise to see former Suns Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson ride the pine the whole game after playing last night. Why play a back-to-back when you don't have to?

Here's hoping they each at least get a cameo at some point. Certainly, each will get an ovation of appreciation from loyal, classy Suns fans.

Special matchup

I would call this a "special" matchup rather than a "key" matchup. It's preseason, after all.

It makes sense to start Eric Bledsoe against his mentor, Chris Paul, at point guard tonight. After two years of beating each other up in practice, this is Bledsoe's first chance to play competitive basketball against Paul and prove he's a starting caliber point guard in this league.

It's better to get this game over with before the games count, too. Bledsoe is likely to be really hyped, probably translating into a lot of steals and rebounds but also turnovers and bricked shots.

Bledsoe's turnovers seem to be more about over-passing to unsuspecting teammates than lazy play, and against the Clippers he might try too many alley-oops that the Suns just aren't ready to convert.

The other bench

I'm sure there will be some quotes out of the visiting locker room before and after the game tonight, as former head coach Alvin Gentry returns to US Airways Center for the first time since being unceremoniously ousted last season by the Suns after a 13-28 start. Gentry is a noted performer for the media, so he will certainly make some obligatory benign comments for local papers with the outside chance of a zinger or two.

Fighting for minutes

Jeff Hornacek still has 17 players to rotate. With so many of relatively equal talent/skill combinations, it's not yet possible to write anyone off besides the rehabbing Malcolm Lee.

In three games, Channing Frye sat out once (and since said he was told he's playing from now on). Also sitting a game are Shannon Brown, Dionte Christmas, Viacheslav Kravstov and James Nunnally. Four of those five acquitted themselves with 10+ point scoring game to offset the DNP. Only Nunnally has seen the numbers really crunch his opportunity.

What will happen tonight? Is it possible, or practical for that matter, for Hornacek to narrow his rotation down? He's played 16, 16 and 13 players in the three games.

Lineup Prediction

PG: Chris Paul vs. Eric Bledsoe

As I wrote above, this figures to be a big game for Eric Bledsoe and I would expect Hornacek to give Bledsoe plenty of minutes tonight. Bledsoe loves to play basketball and will likely get 35 minutes a night this season for the Suns so why not start now, against his mentor? Paul, on the other hand, has nothing prove so he will likely play less than 20 minutes, with the remainder going to his new backup - Darren Collison.

SG: Jamal Crawford vs. Goran Dragic

Everyone plays with lineups in the preseason, so why not start the gifted sixth man Crawford? I have no idea what the Clips will do here. For the Suns, Dragic barely played on Sunday so it figures he will get some time tonight in a lineup next to Bledsoe. It's interesting that they've still barely shared the court this preseason.

SF: Marcus Morris vs. Matt Barnes

Despite some hot shooting by Gerald Green this preseason, it's still my guess that Marcus Morris has the small forward spot in hand. The Suns need someone who can make 3-point shots when Dragic and Bledsoe are on the floor. That could be Green, but I'd guess it Mook's job to lose. He's younger and potentially a better NBA player. P.J. Tucker will be the first backup off the bench, and may end up playing more minutes than Mook overall.

PF: Marcin Gortat vs. Blake Griffin

Gortat has mentioned a few times that he'd like to play big with another of his 7-foot teammates, and that he'd love to try the PF spot when that happens. The problem with this is that Gortat has no game outside the paint, so the middle will be clogged when this happens unless the other big is Channing Frye. My guess is that Frye will come in the game later, so he can get his own applause outside the lineup intros. Maybe even just a minute or two into the game.

C: DeAndre Jordan vs. Miles Plumlee

Miles Plumlee has been a revelation so far this preseason. He appears to have a future similar to Jeff Foster (former dirt worker in Indiana) or Louis Amundson (former Suns fan fave). Expect Hornacek to reward him with a start either tonight or sometime soon before the season starts.

Final Score

Who cares? All I want is a feel-good, entertaining game featuring a lot of fast breaks and dunks. Whoever wins this game has no more than momentary bragging rights. Preseason.

Go Suns!

Time: 7:00 p.m. MST TV: Not on local TV A few quick questions as the Phoenix Suns return home from their mini two-game road trip to host a Pacific Division foe in the Los Angeles Clippers. How do...

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At times it can be easy to play a video game and think, "Why can't life be like this?" Hopefully we are not thinking that while playing Grand Theft Auto, but that is a whole different conversation entirely.

In the world of basketball improvement could be like it is in a game of NBA2K, but for most athletes it is not.

There are so many opportunities for young players (or veterans) to get better during the off-season that they do not take advantage of. Go work on your strength and conditioning, go shoot 500 jumpers a day, go watch film to develop instincts, or just go do something to get better in general. Often times trips to the club and vacations home trump the development of the best athletes in the world.

If this was NBA2K how would you improve the Phoenix Suns? Let's focus on the youngsters first.

Nineteenth Topic: Roster Battles

1. Breaking the Ice: In NBA2K you have the ability to send a player to a school that automatically makes them better at a specific skill. How awesome would that be in real life? Automatic improvement in any field by simply practicing it...

Jim Coughenour: The causality between practice and improvement only holds true to a certain extent. Despite the message conveyed in a well known aphorism, practice does not always make perfect. Most things I work at I notice at least incremental improvement in, but I also face plateau issues. At least some of these NBA players have actually put in time in the gym (shocking), so many of them are at or near plateau stage. It takes a lot for salient progress to take place. Sometimes people just hit ceilings and can't unicorn themselves into better attributes video game style. So... it would be super duper awesome if the guarantee fairy would leave a quarter under my pillow and I could realize automatic improvement in any field by simply practicing it.

Jacob Padilla: For much of this past summer I either played pick-up ball or shot 400 or more shots every day in the hopes of making even minor improvements in my game. Minor describes the improvement I made pretty well. Video game style improvement would have been much easier and probably would have been a lot more time effective. While we're bringing video game improvement to real life, can we bring video game play as well? I can dunk when I'm playing 2K.

Dave King: The problem with giving K-Butter only one new skill is that still leaves him deficient. I'm getting a little excited about the Suns having a guard rotation someday soon that doesn't need to be hidden on defense (Dragic, Bledsoe, Goodwin). If there was one player I would give a new skill to, it would be to give Dragic the ability to shoot a higher percentage. But, you're asking about the kids. Soooo, I would give Alex Len a healthy pair of ankles, but that's not really playing the game right. Okay, I'll give the Morrii some humility. Still not playing it right? Okay, let's give Archie the sweet jumper so he can become an athletic Klay Thompson/Steph Curry combo.

Kris Habbas: At some point in time every hoop head that played a video game has taken a player they love, that may not be great, and make them a superstar. In theory this exists in real life, but very few professional athletes take their profession serious enough to take the summer to get better. Then again normal people do not take the weekends to polish their skills at their respective 9-to-5, so completely bashing an athlete for taking his "weekend" to relax is unfair.

Sreekar Jasthi:

Sean Sullivan: First thought is that I would love to send Markieff to "big man" school. That's not a knock on him like it may sound. Conversely, it's because I see that he has the potential to be a much better post player, rebounder, and defender than he currently is. He was drafted for this exact purpose, but for some reason seemed to catch "three-itis", and thought he could turn into the next Channing Frye. The Suns could of course use this ability for many of their players who are sorely lacking in at least one department, but I guess that's what separates video games from real life.

2. Let's focus on the young players with that logic. What school of training should Kendall Marshall go to?

JP: I'm going to send him to something called "2000 shots." It's a summer camp put on by a local basketball academy here in Omaha that is all about scoring. Shooting is definitely a big part of it, but it also teaches you footwork, different ways to finish around the basket, some ball-handling moves used to get to the basket and create scoring opportunities, and so on. Marshall of course needs to improve his shooting, but equally or perhaps even more importantly, he needs to learn how to be a scoring threat. That will open his distributing game.

DK: If I had to pick one school for K-Butter, it would definitely be shooting school. He really, really needs a better shot. But everyone else is going to say the same thing, so I'll be a little different. MY shooting school for Marshall is a post-play, trick shot school like the one that Luis Scola went to. If Marshall could regularly post up other point guards (he's 6'4", 200 after all) and score like Scola, he'd be a threat that every team has to scheme against.

KH: Shooting is obviously the clear cut option here, but lets take this in a different direction. In the end Marshall may never be a dead-eye shooter and exhausting a summer to train him may not be the wisest use of his time. Getting a full summer working on in the weight room, on the block, and with his footwork will allow Marshall to play closer to the rim while becoming a more efficient scorer and passer. Adding that to his repertoire could elevate his game. Think of Andre Miller and Baron Davis for the younger crowd or Dennis Johnson for the historians at the table.


SS: Is anyone not going to say shooting? I'll try to switch it up a little I guess and send him to the Jared Dudley school of learned athleticism...where Kendall would begin his own dunk-o-meter each season. Kendall would be throwing down awkward looking, tip-of-the-finger dunks in no time!

JC: What direction to go in for a player with so many flaws? While many areas can be honed through assiduity, others tend to be more innate. That's what I would improve in Kendall - a genetic imperfection. I would send him to a training camp to improve his quickness and agility. If I can help Marshall get to the rim it will make him much more difficult to defend and will help set up drive and kick opportunities. In 2K14 the closest approximation would be the Isiah Thomas training camp. It provides boosts to quickness, ball security, layups and shooting off the dribble. This would help Marshall become a much more dynamic threat on offense and the quicks would even help on the defensive end. Then off to the gym to improve on that K-Mart jumper.

3. Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris (The Morrii) both have skill and talent, but struggle with consistency. Would you send them to the Big Man School, Shooting School, or Athletic Training?

DK: I think both are athletic enough. I'd send Markieff Morris to any school that teaches him balance on his shot. He's got some nice post moves, but when he gets into shooting position he's too often off-balance which makes his shot go awry. If he could find balance on his shot, he'd be a bigger force down low. I'd also get someone to teach him how to get his 3-point shot off quicker.

KH: Players with lesser athletic ability than their peers end up using that as a skill in the latter part of their careers, so athletic training may hurt the Morrii now and later. Over two years in the NBA there have been enough jump-shots (508 three-point attempts and 293 blocks/steals career combined) between the two, it is known that they can and want to shoot the ball, but they need to learn how to defend a position to stay in the rotation going forward. Big Man Defensive Academy for both.


SS: I swear I didn't read "Big-Man School" on this question until right now, after I already answered question one in this very regard to Markieff. This is without a doubt the direction I would go with question. However, with Marcus, I don't see him in the same mold. I think he shows much more promise as a small forward, so for that, I would like to improve his jump shot a little more. So yes, Shooting School for Marcus, but keep Markieff out of there!

JC: I would actually split them up and go in different directions. I think Marcus should work on being more of a perimeter threat (shooting school) and Markieff should play as more of a traditional four. That means off to Larry Bird for tutelage in Marcus's case - to improve three point shooting, free throws, mid-range jumpers and consistency. But with Markieff should the focus be on the offensive end of defensive end? I'll go defense with Bill Russell. Hopefully improving his post defense, defensive rebounding, shot blocking and strength will also translate to a concerted effort to improve on close to the basket skills on offense.

JP: Focusing on their defense will merely get them to passable as they are both somewhat below that level t this point. Improving their athleticism will still leave problems with the rest of their games. Big man school would be a good idea for Keef, but Mook is better suited as a small forward or stretch-four. I'm going in a similar direction as Dave on this one. I'm sending them both to shooting school. But this school isn't just about 3-pointers; it's about making your shots form all over the court. Bo0th Keef and Mook have a lot of natural talent as scorers in terms of making moves and getting off shots; however, neither one is good at finishing off those plays. They need to learn how to finish around the basket, hit the elbow jumper and knock down their threes at a much higher rate.

4. It is hard to know where Alex Len should go since he has not played a game, but which would he most benefit from between Strength Conditioning and Big Man Defense School?

KH: He can shoot a little from the mid-range, is a quality athlete for his position, and can score on the block. Working on his strength and conditioning, especially over his first two years, will allow Len to come back from his injury and become a consistent performer from the five spot.


SS: I think both are good options, though the Big-Man Defense school is probably a little less necessary for him at this point since he already shows pretty good instincts and seems to play like a big man already. So yes, I would send him to strength and conditioning school to help him increase his strength and overall health to hopefully keep him off the injury report and on the court. Len could also stand to get a little stronger, which would increase his effectiveness in the post as well.

JC: Alex and Markieff will be bunking up. I actually wouldn't mind pairing Len with the Dream, but given the two options I would definitely lean toward making our jumbo large 7+ footer a dominant defensive presence. Those types of players tend to be useful. At 20, Len is still growing into his frame. With his body type I expect Alex to naturally fill out. Now, if I can send him to "he will never get injured again school"... sign his ass up.

JP: I agree with pretty much everything Sean said (and him being 7-feet himself and all, who am I as a puny 6-footer to disagree?). Len already has good defensive instincts and just needs to learn his role in the Suns' defensive system and develop chemistry with his teammates. Strength is one of the things he needs to improve in the most. Offensively, I'd like to send him to a polishing school. He already has a nice-looking shot, has a hook shot, shows some nice footwork and can roll to the basket and finish some; he just needs to get to the point where he's consistent with those things.

DK: Len really needs to develop his body. He's got some great natural skills at everything a traditional big man needs to do - shooting and finishing with both hands around the basket, agility, sense of size (ie. reaches high for rebounds, taking advantage of his height). He simply needs to develop the necessary sand in his bucket to fight down low for position when needed for rebounding and/or boxing out. He's got a bright future, but I don't want him to develop a "soft" game.

5. Young Archie Goodwin has a long way to go as a player, but is essentially a blank canvas to paint on. Go ahead and paint...


SS: Archie needs shooting school first and foremost... He has the aggressiveness and athleticism already, and if he can develop a consistent jumper he will have a very nice career in the NBA. Secondly, and I know this is a bit risky, I would send him to the Kobe school of self-confidence. Archie needs to have a short memory as a rookie, and as of now it seems he gets a little unsure or overwhelmed at times, which is perfectly normal. But if he could play with a little more confidence in his ability (not reckless abandon, mind you), then I think he can hasten his development and feel more comfortable overall in his ability as a player.

JC: Sticking with the 2K14 theme, I'm going to make Goodwin a deadly two way player by sending him to some crazy a**hole Dennis Rodman. Archie already appears to have great offensive tools and a knack for getting to the basket and drawing contact (Maybe he becomes similar to James Harden in that aspect?). Let's make him a great on-ball and overall defender (which Harden isn't). The Worm can imbue on-ball defense, defensive awareness, burglary (steals) and offensive rebounding in the Suns' precocious apple. Never hurts to have a 6'6" all-NBA defensive player to throw against the opposing teams best 2/3.

JP: Archie already shows some good defensive tools and instincts; all he needs on that end is some experience and some good coaching. And he can obviously handle the ball, get to the basket and create contact. What he needs is a consistent jumper, so I'd send him to a shooting school. Right now, his form has way too much movement, which leads to inconsistent actions and release points. He needs to tighten up his shooting motion and he needs to make sure he's releasing the ball at the same point every time. His form isn't as ugly as Marshall's, but there are some mechanical issues that manifested themselves in his inconsistency as a shooter in college.

DK: I mentioned Archie above, so I'll do it again. Archie can already handle, drive and finish. If he could add a deadly jumper to his arsenal, the game would come so easy to him. Add in the defensive mindset he already has, and Archie could be a 40-minute player in this game. The only thing holding him are (a) maturity and (b) a consistent jumper.

KH: The team talks about Goodwin like he is the next converted point guard a la Russell Westbrook, but he might be more Monta Ellis with his ability to handle and slash. Early in Ellis' career (28.5% first three years from three) and became a better shooter to complement his blurring speed and attacking style. That is something Goodwin can pattern his game after while working on his shooting these first few years.

BONUS: Hakeem Olajuwon has his famous ranch in Texas to train big men. Who would be your ideal guard, wing, or forward from NBA History to open their own "ranch?"

SS: OK, I traversed into enemy territory and went with the Kobe school for Goodwin... So I have to bring it back to the purple and orange for this one. I would open up the Steve Nash Passing Ranch (sorry Lakers, he'll always be a Sun in my book). Nash, in my opinion, is the most gifted passer of all-time. Not only that, he was an excellent floor leader and shooter as well (sorry, no defense will be taught here).

JC: The Rick Barry Underhand Free Throw Camp. Kevin Fixler with SB Nation did a great piece on Barry titled "Shooting for Perfection." As Barry hilariously asserts, "How can you live with yourself if you can't make four out of every five free throws you shoot?" Yeah, how do you do it Rodman, Russell, Wilt, Shaq, Howard, etc... The "Miami Greyhound" averaged a robust .8998 from the charity stripe for his career (third best in NBA history) with the granny toss. Maybe doing anything and everything possible to help your team win just isn't manly enough... Barry also famously reinvented himself as a player by shifting from a primary scorer to a primary distributor as a "point" forward. Lots to learn from this man. Elliott Perry would be his assistant in charge of dress code. Hard to shoot free throws with cold legs.

JP: I'd be remiss not to throw in a Creighton reference on this Roundtable so I'd love to open up the Kyle Korver school of shooting, movement and passing. Any time you set the single-season record for 3-point percentage and have a beautiful shooting stroke, I think you're worth learning from. But unlike someone like a Steve Novak, Korver has mastered using his textbook jumper from everywhere on the court and not just 3-point range, as he's deadly as either a shooter or passer coming off screens and curling around the elbows.

DK: LOL, I never put any thought into this. I'll be different and say Luis Scola. That man is unique in the way he plays the game without having a lick of jumping ability. We used to kid Jared Dudley on his vertical; Duds was a jumping bean compared to Scola. Yet, Scola found a way to score and rebound at a high level in the NBA with a variety of self-made skills to get the job done. More players should develop those skills.

KH: I am a 1990s hoop head with that being my generation growing up. One of the "lost arts" in the game of basketball has been the mid-range shot and that has to do with a lack of development of off-ball movement and mechanics. It would be nice to see a camp run by either Reggie Miller (gets him off TV) or Ray Allen with Richard "Rip" Hamilton as the assistant. Not sure how any of those three would be as teachers, but their game speaks for itself.


Bright Siders, what do you think?

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