During the same week that Michael Beasley is showing he might be worth the headaches and a $6 million per year contract, a recent news story has quickly put that thought back into serious...

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Suns One On One: Aaron Nelson
Suns One On One host Greg Esposito sat down with Suns head athletic trainer, only the second in the team’s 45 year history, Aaron Nelson to discuss his almost 20 seasons with the organization. Find out which former Suns fan favorite is his brother-in-law and how two familiar names in Suns history almost became accountants rather than basketball players. Hear all that and much more on this week’s episode.

This is a fun interview for both fans of Suns history as well as those interested in the guy behind the best medical staff in the business. Listen here.

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Sitting at 16-32 the Phoenix Suns hit the road for three straight and what will amount to six out of seven total in the coming weeks. Challenging times for the team as they are currently sitting on two straight losses and it does not get any easier looking at the upcoming schedule.

What did they do?

Practice in general ran long. They were scrimmaging there at the end and ran a little longer than they originally anticipated, but that is how you get better as a team. But missing the flight to Memphis is not, so they better get on that bus!

After practice Interim Head Coach Lindsey Hunter discussed the teams goals on the road and what they are trying to do, which are not very different than day one of his tenure here.

"The same thing that we have been preaching, getting better," stated Hunter on his goals this trip. "We had a really good, intense practice today and we will continue to do that and continue to build. Just trying to continue to sure up our foundation defensively and clean up our passing offensively."

Going forward the team needs to maximize the effort from rookie Kendall Marshall and lightning rod Michael Beasley, because they play major roles for the team, and without their play, the team is very limited in terms of depth. With Sebastian Telfair getting DNP (Did Not Play) Coaches Decisions the past two games it is even more important to get everything they can out of Marshall. More on him later.

Beasley was not down on himself after the Dallas loss and it showed with another quality showing at Golden State. The outcome was not what the team was looking for, but they got production out of their Six Million Dollar Man.

"We had a chance to win the game, but they broke out late," Beasley on the Dallas loss. "They really made the right plays, we didn't necessarily do anything wrong, but we just didn't do everything right. As far as me individually I just missed shots. Just missed shots."

The team needs to gain confidence in the system, which takes time, but all the coaches are looking for is confidence and for the players to get better, "I think indecisiveness brings questions of where to go. You cannot do it full speed until you are sure."

Injury Updates?

Jermaine O'Neal -- He stated he is ready to go in full on Tuesday at Memphis, interim head coach Hunter agreed, but insinuated the leash may be short.

We don't know yet. We don't know how he will respond after today's practice so we will see. We will talk to the trainers and play it by ear.

Interim Coach Lindsey Hunter on road games:

It is a lot of variables that go into it. I think experience, how good defensively you are -- I think that really counts when you are on the road, and not turning the ball over. Those are all areas that we can get better in and that will be our focus. Like I said, we will focus on the fundamental things we have been working on and everything else will take care of itself.

More Coach Hunter on Kendall Marshall as the teams back-up point:

There really is no timeline, just production and how he handles the situation. He is coming along pretty good. I like what I've seen out of him, our guys really love playing with him, and he just has to get used to the length and the speed of these guys. Some of those passes I am sure he could get away with at Carolina, but he just has to realize he cannot throw those halfcourt lackadaisical passes and he will get better at it.

Hunter also added, "If he keeps growing and he keeps better and producing, you know, we will push him until we see what we got."

Sebastian Telfair on the recent DNP's:

"Nope," stated Bassy on whether Hunter has spoken to him about his role going forward. "Just staying ready and when my number is called I will be ready. We are having a losing season right now and I guess I am one of the casualties of it."

The 2013 NBA Draft Update (Changing It Up)

As of today the team is slotted in the 6th spot and the 13th spot in the draft if it were to happen today. The 13th pick comes via the Los Angeles Lakers who are playing sub-playoff quality basketball hence the swap of the pick.

Here are the players they are taking in the current Mock Draft:

Prospects to consider: Ben McLemore, Alex Len, and Isaiah Austin

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Sometimes you have to move a few steps back to get the lay of the land, learn how to lose, and therefore see things clearer to know how to win. Right now the Phoenix Suns (16-32) are in the phase of learning how to lose. At times they trick themselves into thinking they are getting the lay of the land, but right now they are not there.

Game Recaps

vs. Los Angeles Lakers - W (92-86)

vs. Dallas Mavericks - L (109-99)

@ Golden State Warriors - L (113-93)

A 1-2 week is not a banner week by anyone's standards, but the team did "Beat L.A." spoiling the return of Steve Nash. That win was short lived as they dropped back-to-back games by double-digits. The first quarters were bright spots, but the rest of the game there was not the same energy.

With Kendall Marshall taking over as the primary back-up to Goran Dragic this week there has been an obvious drop-off in the teams execution with the second unit. They have not been bringing the same energy and effort on defense, and still not scoring the ball at a high level. There are some solid fixes to some problems, but a lot of the fixes have proved to be band-aids thus far.

Key Stats

2-10

That is the current record of the team on back-to-back games. Just to give perspective the best team in the NBA (San Antonio) is 6-4, the most average team (Boston) is 5-6, and the worst team (Washington) is 2-11 in the same type of games. That is a scope of three teams on three different levels, which one is the most similar to Phoenix?

The Highs

Steve Nash Came Home

Unfortunately the "Coming Home" video was removed by the team after putting it up for everyone to see, here is Nash in the post-game talking about the fans, his reception, the video package, and the game.

And even sweeter than that the Suns dropped the Lakers helping morale, team confidence, and their lottery standings!

The Lows

All season offensive rebounds have made a quality Suns defense look below average to bad because they did not finish the possession with the ball. In a lot of cases it was unacceptable. Against the Mavericks it hit a new low with seven offensive rebounds allowed. In the fourth quarter.

Marion with three (led to four points)

Mayo with two (led to three points)

Brand with one (led to zero points)

Collison with one (led to zero points)

The Mavericks scored 35 points in the fourth quarter, but seven on easy shots after misses.

Practice Report

Here is this past weeks Practice Report

Look for this weeks later today.

Grades

A look at three different players on the Suns for the week forming a good, bad, and a surprise either way each week.

A- for P.J. Tucker: The stats won't tell the entire story here as Tuck clamped down on Kobe Bryant and O.J. Mayo playing great on and off ball defense. Is going too far to call him a Top 5 Off-Ball Defender?
D+ for Kendall Marshall: This is not an indictment on Marshall, but when you are given the opportunity as the back-up point guard in back-to-back games, basically given an opportunity to showcase your game, you cannot total three points and five assists. Not to mention the four turnovers. He has taken Sebastian Telfair's job, but now he needs to do something with it.
C+ for Michael Beasley: It was an up-and-down week for Beasley who brought his A Game (27 points 6 rebounds) against the Lakers, but didn't show up against the Mavericks (4 points 6 rebounds). A lot of the shots were the same, but the results were not.

    Player of the Week:

    Goran Dragic - 14.3 PPG 3.7 RPG 8.0 APG 41.2 FG%

    Those numbers tell the story of an entire game, but it has been the play of Dragic in the first quarter that has elevate the Suns offense early. On the season the team is averaging 25 points per first quarter and are typicalling giving up 25.5 to their opponents. Over the course of the last three games that is up to 28.6 while giving up the same to their opponents.

    Dragic is the one to credit with the extra energy in the first as he has averaged 8.0 PPG 2.3 APG and 1.3 RPG in the first quarter alone. He is bringing the energy and attacking early.

    Part of that is a newfound confidence or freedom in the offense. He had the ability to take over games earlier this season, but just didn't do it consistently, now it is a regular thing early in games. So far the only negative is that the second quarter has been a major drop-off, primarily because Dragic has to sit a considerable amount after playing so hard for the first 10+ minutes early on.

    Previewing the Week Ahead:

    Tuesday, February 5th @ Memphis Grizzlies (30-16)

    Wednesday, February 6th @ New Orleans Hornets (15-33)

    Friday, February 8th @ Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12)

    Sunday, February 10th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12)

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    1. Goran Dragic

    Weekly Average: 15 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals in 35.5 minutes of play

    Dragic continued his efficient and productive play this week, and at times showed absolute dominance on both ends of the floor. Goran has the ability to be a game changer when he is playing aggressive...Let's hope we see more of it.

    2. Marcin Gortat

    Weekly Average: 10.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block in 29.5 minutes of play

    Gortat had another very productive week for the Suns, which has become the norm lately. Suns' fans know what they can expect out of Marcin on most nights and he usually delivers. He and Scola have been the two most consistent players over the past few weeks.

    3. Michael Beasley

    Weekly Average: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assists, 1.5 steals in 29 minutes of play

    Beasley followed up his breakout week with another very productive week with nearly identical stats overall. Other than his game at home against Dallas in which he scored only 4 points on 2-13 shooting, Beasley has been fairly efficient and made a positive impact on the team.

    4. Luis Scola

    Weekly Average: 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assist in 29 minutes of play

    Scola continues to be Mr. Consistency for the Suns. His veteran play and his hustle are present every night. Scola almost always finds a way to help the team, and his stat line from week to week is rock solid.

    5. P.J. Tucker

    Weekly Average: 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists in 32 minutes of play

    Tucker to a step up offensively this week and began contributing as more than just a defender. With his increased minutes, this is what I was hoping to see from P.J., and this week he delivered. Tucker isn't ever going to be a star player or an offensive juggernaut, but he is proving he can be a solid starter in this league with his defense and all-around hustle on both ends of the court.

    6. Jared Dudley

    Weekly Average: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists in 29 minutes of play

    Dudley had a decent week, with his best game coming against Dallas at home in which he scored 17 points on 7-12 shooting. However, he is continuing to slip in the rankings due to other players like Beasley and Tucker stepping their game up. I wouldn't be too concerned about J.D. though, he knows what his role is and is playing well overall.

    7. Shannon Brown

    Weekly Average: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assist in 18 minutes of play

    Brown improved over last weeks drop-off, and had a 20 point game against Dallas in which he went 7-11 from the field. But overall, Brown's minutes seem to be declining due to his defensive deficiencies. Head coach Lindsey Hunter appears to be keeping his word so far regarding his focus on defense, and is rewarding players who are producing in this respect.

    8. Markieff Morris

    Weekly Average: 3 points, 3.5 rebounds in 24 minutes of play

    Morris had a bad week. After quietly being one of the most productive overall players on the team over the past few weeks, Morris derailed. He went 4-17 from the field over the week (ouch), and failed to even register a point against either the Lakers or the Mavs at home. His rebounding also dropped off significantly this week, which is something he can't afford to let happen when struggling with his shot. Markieff is still a young pup though and is still figuring things out, so I wouldn't be too concerned at the moment.

    9. Kendall Marshall

    Weekly Average: 2 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist in 11 minutes of play

    Marshall played significant minutes in every game this week other than against the Lakers, and he did ok with the minutes he was given. Marshall is still very much a work in progress, but we are starting to see some of the abilities he has as a player and what he can bring to the team. The key word here is patience.

    10. Sebastian Telfair

    Weekly Average: 3 points, 1 assists in 11 minutes of play

    Bassy only played in one game this week which happened to be the lone win against the Lakers. However, Telfair has been unable to prove that he deserves to keep the spot as the back-up point guard over the development of Kendall Marshall, and we are seeing now that his minutes and playing time are being significantly reduced.

    So there you have it. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below!

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