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.

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?

PHOENIX — It’s not the operative word a collective fan base wants to hear when talking about a No. 5 overall pick, but it’s a fitting one for Phoenix Suns rookie center Alex Len, who has more...

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The NBA is a business, and part of that business is to swap out incumbent players for new players until you get it just right. And even then, "just right" has a very short shelf life. Turnover is king in the NBA. The further down the rotation, the more obvious that is.

In major league baseball, the trickiest position or area of the game to repeat year over year is the bullpen. One year, a player is unhittable and the next he's a pinball machine. David Hernandez of the Diamondbacks is a good, local example of this. He was acquired out of anonymity, became ultra-reliable for two seasons and then suddenly lost all of his mojo this past season.

In NBA basketball, that fleeting level of performance is the chemistry and effectiveness of a bench rotation. Make one little change and what was once a good rotation becomes suspect. Some of that is driven by impatient General Managers creating turnover that ultimately upsets the apple cart. Armed with fresh, cheap draft picks every year along with another 250 players available in free agency, it's difficult to sit there and return every player from last year's bench rotation.

This past offseason, the Phoenix Suns wheeled, dealed and drafted TEN new players for their team. Eight players still remain from last year's squad. Of all 18, not a single one should be considered untouchable in the right trade.

The Suns are still projected to be the worst team in the West. It might be an entertaining worst, but worst nonetheless. The Suns are still trying to "trade up" to the point that they have cornerstone pieces for the next great Suns team. Right now, only Eric Bledsoe qualifies as young AND talented AND ready to display that talent in the 2013-14 season.

Which players are next to go?

The likelihood of trading players is a combination of value in return (stock) and their fit with the vision of the future of the team (desire). Players acquired by previous management generally rank lower than those just acquired. Unless, that is, the new GM is starting from the bottom. In that case, even recently acquired players are considered assets rather than future cornerstones.

Given those parameters, let's group these Suns into tiers of likelihood to be traded.


In response to the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas, yes there's a chance these guys get moved in a trade. In fact, there's a very good chance. However, their inclusion would be random, based solely on the whim of the other team's GM and/or for salary matching purposes. A few of them were acquired in such a transaction this summer.

Dionte Christmas, James Nunnally, Viacheslav Kravtsov, Ish Smith and Malcolm Lee are fighting for two roster spots at best. They are much more likely to be roster casualties than trade inclusions, however it would be best for the Suns' bottom line to include them in a many-for-few trade before the season starts. Which of them and for what in return doesn't matter. They each carry a one-year deal of varying guarantees.

Gerald Green and Shannon Brown have very little trade value at this time. Each has already reached his NBA peak and is making $3.5 million this season to ride the bench of the worst team in the West. Each would provide marginal value to a playoff team, but most likely would only be included in a deal for salary matching purposes. Hence, they fit the "random" category.

Unlikely, but not for lack of effort

New GM Ryan McDonough inherited a small handful of recent draft picks upon taking over the reins this summer. None of these players were properly showcased or adequately developed during their short NBA careers to date, leaving them with almost no trade value.

Each has upside higher than their current play, though, so they would only be included in a talent-for-talent trade. But the reason to trade these guys right now is their escalating contracts, which will soon outsize their production.

Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Kendall Marshall all have NBA rotation talent. But none are coveted throughout the league. Lucky for McD, nearly every NBA team has one or three of these as well. Players from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 drafts are all still on their rookie contracts, and nearly all of them are still waiting to hear if next year's team option will be picked up.

At about $2 million each, K-Butter and the Morrii share the same trade value as dozens of other recent draft picks. The only issues are salary matching and gravitas. Every year, recent draft picks are swapped for other recent picks, but rarely are they traded one-for-one in a mutual "lemme try yours for a while" trade.

An armchair GM can envision a trade such as Kendall Marshall for Utah's Alec Burks. Both make about the same money. Both are waiting for news of their rookie option for 2014-15. Neither is a clean fit on their current team. Yet, each team's GM is likely to say "that's not worth my time", because neither is a clean fit on the other team either.

Another such trade would be one of the Morrii for Washington's Jan Vesely (this year's Wes Johnson). The 7-foot small forward has been a huge disappointment for the Bullets/Wizards and is unlikely to get his fourth year option picked up. Yet, he's a lithe runner, an elite athlete, who can do a lot of things on the court if his confidence ever resurfaces. He dominated in Eurobasket last month, so there's always a chance he could find his way in the NBA.

Would the Suns want either of those two players, Vesely or Burks? Maybe. Is either a long-term answer? Almost certainly no. Because of that, the likelihood of trading for either player is a long shot.

If the Suns trade anyone in this category, it would likely be of the "roster churn" variety.

Unlikely, because the Suns want to keep them

Some players won't be traded because (a) the Suns value them and (b) the market likely doesn't apply the same level of value. In other words, the Suns would only trade these guys in a sweetheart deal no sane person would turn down.

Alex Len and Archie Goodwin are both likely valued higher by the Suns than any other team at the moment. Len is coming off ankle injuries, while Goodwin just recently was passed over by nearly every NBA team in June's draft. Yet both have barely scratched the surface of their talent, and the Suns hope they dramatically outplay their contracts for the next four years.

P.J. Tucker and Miles Plumlee are low-salaried, high-effort players worth keeping around, making them unlikely to be included in any deal as a salary-match throw in. The Suns have a half dozen other guys who can suit that purpose (listed in the 'random' group).

Goran Dragic fits in this "unlikely" category for two reasons. On one hand, the Suns love his attitude, production and reasonable contract. Of all the players on the team, Dragic exemplifies the team's new direction - fast and furious. On the other hand, Dragic is still undervalued throughout the league. His trade stock is likely a lot lower than the Suns' own value on him.

Dragic is going nowhere, unless he gets on shooting hot streak AND a playoff-caliber team loses their starting point guard AND that team has something of real value to give back that the Suns simply cannot turn down.

If the Suns trade anyone in this category, it would be a clear "trading up" scenario with some measure of angst attached.

Likely, as part of the rebuild

That leaves three NBA-quality rotation players on the Suns current roster that are "most likely to be traded" this season. If any of these guys are traded, the Suns will be getting back something of real value. The definition of real value here is one or more assets with a lesser 2012-13 outlook but a higher NBA ceiling than the outgoing player.

Marcin Gortat is still considered a viable starting-caliber center with a high-value deal (expiring) - perfect fodder for playoff contender that needs someone to man the pivot due to injury or lack of performance but doesn't want to break their cap situation. The potential landing spots are few right now, but injuries can change that entire landscape.

The Suns' asking price for Gortat is likely a young asset with a higher ceiling than Gortat ever reached. If you count Gortat as having been top-15 at his position for at least one season, that's a pretty good prospect. #NBARank gave Gortat a grade for the past two seasons equivalent to that of a top-three player in any team's rotation.

Channing Frye is another of the most likely players to be traded. You could put him in the Dragic category, but I just don't see it yet. Channing Frye is such a good guy, overcame such adversity, is the best shooter on the team and reminds us of the glory days of the 2010 playoff run.

But good-shooting stretch fours are valuable in this league, and Frye has already proven he's ready to contribute this season in that role. But he's got two seasons left on a deal that outsizes his production as a bench shooter - a contract that fits a contender's bench much better than a rebuilding team's bench.

The asking price for Frye would be lower than Gortat. Again, if the Suns require someone with a higher ceiling than Frye, that would be a player who can eventually make a playoff team's rotation off the bench. Someone who could be a 6th-8th man for a winner within the next couple of years.

Likely, depending on contract demands

Finally, we reach the one player with the highest combination of value and desire.

I am sure you agree that Eric Bledsoe is the Suns' most valuable trade chip (not counting future lotto picks), but you may be surprised that he is also most likely high up the Suns' "desire to trade" list. Bledsoe does a lot of everything on the court, and has already shown a better court vision than the Suns expected. But is he worth a max deal ($13 million, then 7.5% raises)? And, would anything less than a max offer secure Bledsoe's services ahead of next year's restricted free agency?

I've already written that the Suns must avoid overpaying Bledsoe. Given his contributions to the league so far, he compares most favorably to a $8-10 million starting value contract.

That's the problem for the Suns. There's no reason for Bledsoe to accept a "good deal" right now. He's expressed no real affinity for the Suns other than a starting opportunity. It's not that he doesn't want to play here, but that he's already tasted life on a contender. At this point, he simply wants Chris Paul's job - to quarterback a highly talented and exciting team deep in the playoffs. He won't get that right away in Phoenix, so of course he's not hitching his wagon quite yet.

Given those conditions, unless the Suns want to offer $12+ million and Bledsoe takes it, he becomes a very likely trade candidate this season. Bledsoe is still the best trade asset in the NBA. There is a small rub: the acquiring team knows it has to pony up a lot of cash on Bledsoe next summer.

What is that ransom, then? What could the Suns get for 24-year old Bledsoe?

Applying the rule of returning a young asset with the potential to exceed Bledsoe's value, the question is Bledsoe's current value. Is he better than Dragic, who currently fits in the 15-20 range among the league's PGs, along the lines of Ty Lawson or Mike Conley? Is he better than Deron Williams or even, gasp, Chris Paul? Or, is he a poorer shooting Brandon Jennings? Depending on the answer, that could change the Suns plans for the future.

If the Suns can't get Bledsoe for less than max, they might decide to flip him.

If the Suns just don't envision getting Bledsoe to agree for less than max, they might decide to flip him. Maybe a guaranteed lotto pick in 2014, one that's possibly top-ten. Maybe a fellow 2010 draftee who can't agree on an extension with his current team but is arguably deserving of a $10+ million contract (Greg Monroe, Derrick Favors, etc.). Maybe a 2011 or 2012 guy still under control for a couple years who could explode on the NBA in the near future.

Either way, the Suns are in good shape with Bledsoe. He might become the Suns centerpiece of the future. Or, he might bring that centerpiece back in trade.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek isn’t rushing a finished product. During the regular season, there likely won’t be any panic either considering this team could look very different next season....

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The Phoenix Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-99 behind strong performances from Gerald Green, Dionte Christmas and PJ Tucker.

The Suns began the game with a starting five of Goran Dragic, Archie Goodwin, Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. Meanwhile, the Spurs didn't rest any of their big three (Duncan, Parker and Ginobili) but surprisingly elected to give young Kawhi Leonard the day off, rolling with a starting group of Tony Parker, Danny Green, Corey Maggette, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.

The Suns began running from the very start, with Gerald Green and Marcin Gortat leading the way. Both teams' "stars" played sparingly today. The Suns dynamic duo of guards didn't play much and weren't great in their limited minutes. Goran Dragic went to the bench after 07:32 of play and an 0-3 shooting start and got the rest of the night off. Eric Bledsoe then checke din and struggled mightily with his shooting and shot selection initially, missing all of his first eight shots before finding some rhythm and making his next three shots to finish with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 16 minutes of play.

Tim Duncan played 22 minutes (more than any Suns starter) and finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds. Tony Parker went for 11 points in 19 minutes and Manu Ginobili came off the bench in his sixth man role to play 22 minutes, tallying 11 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds.


  • Marcin Gortat was very good in his limited playing time, tallying 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a block in 17 minutes.

  • Gerald Green took the most shots of any player in the game, finishing with 19 points in 19 minutes on 8-15 shooting and making some difficult shots he'd probably miss most of the time. He also had the easiest-looking windmill dunk I might have ever seen.

  • Dionte Christmas provided a great spark off the bench and finished with 14 points in 19 minutes, including 3-4 from beyond the three point arc. If he can keep making those threes, he'll have a great shot of sticking to this roster.

  • PJ Tucker bullied his way to 14 points off the bench in just 14 minutes in typical PJ Tucker fashion, finishing strong drives and bulldozing his way to the hope. He even made a couple jumpers!

  • Alex Len played the most minutes of any Sun and although he struggled and looked tentative initially, he finished the game in strong fashion and looked better overall tonight than in the last two games. He finished with 6 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in 25 minutes, finishing inside and making a long jumper. That rebounding rate is the most impressive sign at this early stage of his career.

  • Archie Goodwin started the game alongside Goran Dragic and played nearly 20 minutes, finishing with 6 points and 3 rebounds on 3-7 shooting from the field. He looked great on a strong drive and while finishing an alley-oop pass from Marshall but understandably needs to improve his feel for the game.

  • Kendall Marshall didn't stand out statistically (5 points and 1 assist in 12 minutes) but he played well and showed an improved jumpshot (1-2 from the three point line).

The biggest takeaway from the game is that these Suns, no matter what, will look to run and push the pace against anyone. It remains to be seen how much success they'll have in the regular season but so far, they're undefeated. Andrew Wiggins who?

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