The Phoenix Suns are expected to be at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings, the Western Conference standings, and just about every other type of standings there are in the NBA this season. But, don't look now because the Lakers are not looking at the Thunder and the Spurs in their rear view mirror, instead they just a few car lengths ahead of the likes of the Suns and the Kings.
Full podcast here: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 39 w/Drew Garrison
If you're anything like me it's difficult for you to muster too much excitement about the upcoming 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns season. Sure there's a Top 5 pick about to make his debut and the unveiling of the NBA's next great superstar in Archie Goodwin but expectations for the next 82 games are about as low as it gets.
Given I typically write about things that have already happened and things that suck, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to marry those dual pursuits into a column running down the least anticipated seasons in Suns history.
A lot goes into making a season one of the least anticipated. You have to factor in the performance in the previous year, coaching changes, personnel changes and really any other aspect that would make a season either worth looking forward to or not. This only considers the pre-season hype around a team - so take the 1973-74 Suns who traded Connie Hawkins 8 games into the season as an example. The expectations of the fans were likely that Hawk would be with the team for the season. Think of it like that.
Let's use the 1992-93 Suns as an example case study of my evaluation method. Say you're a normal Suns fan in September of 1992, what do you see? You had a 53-win team with three returning All-Star level talents (KJ, Majerle, Chambers) and added a front-line superstar in his prime (Barkley), along with a three point gunner to replace the departed Jeff Hornacek (Ainge). Not only that you had the team moving into palatial America West Arena and they were going to be coached by franchise legend and coaching heir apparent Paul Westphal.
That's a ton of stuff to be excited about.
So take all of those things and think of what happened if they were completely the opposite - that's this list.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not personally old enough to have experienced the 1970's seasons first hand so there's a bit of assumption and guess work in those. I figure you'll let it slide. If not I look forward to your well-researched response in the comments.
I put it in Top 10 order because listing things can be fun.
Reasons To Be Excited: The team drafted big man Alvan Adams with the 4th pick in the 1975 draft. They also added one-time NBA champion Paul Westphal from Boston and still had the Original Sun Dick Van Arsdale. That's a large chunk of the Ring of Honor right there.
Reasons For Apathy: These Suns were coming off back to back seasons where they won 30 and 32 games respectively and to acquire Westphal they traded their leading scorer -a 26 year old Charlie Scott who was coming off of back to back 24+ point per game seasons - to Boston. Not to mention, to that point Westphal was a reserve for Boston and a guy who'd failed to average more than 9.8 points per game in his first 3 NBA seasons. As for Van Arsdale, he was already in his 30s and 4 seasons removed from his last All-Star berth. The high flying days of Connie Hawkins were well in the rear view mirror.
How It Went: Well the gamble that a young reserve on a contender could step in and be a major player paid off handsomely as Westphal blossomed into a 20 point a game scorer (I tried to phrase that to sound as much like Eric Bledsoe as possible). Not only that but Alvan Adams won Rookie of the Year and though the Suns won just 42 games they caught fire at the right time - beating defending champion Golden State and advancing to the Finals where they fell to old friend Charlie Scott and the Celtics. So it went well.
Reasons To Be Excited: This website has been near expert in finding reasons to be excited about this season so I'll keep it brief. Alex Len was the 5th pick, Archie Goodwin was good in summer league, Goran Dragic was All-Eurobasket, and Eric Bledsoe is a Sun. Channing Frye is back which is pretty sweet and Michael Beasley is gone which is sweeter. Also they are coached by former Suns star Jeff Hornacek which is basically the equivalent of shaking a set of keys in front of an infant in an effort to distract them from anything else going on (but I'm cool with that).
Reasons For Apathy: Alex Len wasn't even selected one of the best 15 players in the ACC (he was Honorable Mention All-ACC) and has already had stress fractures in both feet, Archie Goodwin is a project guard (I know...blasphemy), nobody has a clue how Eric Bledsoe will do with major minutes, and Dragic making All-Eurobasket means about as much as Hedo Turkoglu making All-FIBA World Championships in 2010. The team has also jettisoned pretty much every veteran player - including Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, and Caron Butler - leaving Frye (a guy who hasn't played in a game since April of 2012) as the elder statesmen.
How It Went: It hasn't happened yet but I'm guessing it goes bad. On the plus side we have lots of draft picks coming!
Reasons To Be Excited: Stephon Marbury was entering his second season in Phoenix and was a 25 year-old former All-Star. Shawn Marion had turned into a double-double threat (19/9 the previous year) in just his third season in the league and the Suns picked up Amar'e Stoudemire with the 9th pick in the 2002 draft to add to Joe Johnson who they traded for the previous year. Plus Penny Hardaway and Tom Gugliotta were still on the roster. Because names, right?
Reasons For Apathy: During Jason Kidd's 4 full seasons in Phoenix, the Suns won 50 games 3 times - the 4th season being the 50-game lockout year. In the summer of 2001 the Suns swapped Kidd for Stephon Marbury who was a young and dynamic scoring point guard. In Marbury's first season in Phoenix the Suns win total was lopped off by 15 (from 51 to 36) and Scott Skiles lost his job half way through the year. Because as Suns fans would quickly learn - Stephon Marbury isn't quite as good at point guarding as Jason Kidd. Marion was certainly something to be excited about but in 2002, Stoudemire and Johnson were just a raw high school power forward and a 20 year old guard the Celtics gave up on after half a season. There was upside on the roster but it was pretty clear Marbury wasn't leading these guys back to 50 wins.
How It Went: Despite Marbury's high volume gunning (43.9% shooting, 30.1% from three, and 22.3 points per game on nearly 19 shots), Marion made an All-Star team, Stoudemire had the best rookie year of anyone coming straight out of high school (to that point, LeBron was better the next season), and the Suns won 44 games and returned to the playoffs. In the playoffs they managed to steal 2 games from eventual champion San Antonio and provided Suns fans with one of the most famous shots in franchise history.
Reasons To Be Excited: Goran Dragic was returning to town with a flashy new contract earned on the back of a 28 game starting stint in which he posted 18/8 with 49% shooting and 38% from three. Dragic came in with the underachieving yet (thought to be) talented Michael Beasley and amnesty waiver pickup Luis Scola to represent a glimmer of hope that success might be sort of possible.
Reasons For Apathy: Dragic had effectively proved nothing about his ability as a starter beyond a small sample size, even in his prime Scola's game carried the excitement value of drying paint, and Beasley was what one would call "troubled". Additionally, prior to the season Channing Frye was ruled gone for the year with a heart issue and the Suns acquired Wesley Johnson with the expectation that he'd actually get minutes. Oh and the team's lottery pick was a third string point guard who couldn't shoot or play defense and they were general managed by Lance Blanks.
How It Went: You remember. Dragic was decent, Beasley was a train wreck and Scola just kind of was. The team started PJ Tucker 45 times and won 25 games. If you don't think those are at all correlated then I'm pretty sure you have Thanksgiving dinner with the Tucker's.
Reasons To Be Excited: Larry Nance was coming off of an All-Star campaign, Alvan Adams was still around, and Walter Davis was returning from a season that saw him play just 23 games. In addition the team made the playoffs the year before and added Final Four hero Ed Pinckney from Villanova with the 10th pick in the draft.
Reasons For Apathy: Nance was a cool toy but pretty much everything else was easy to blow holes in. After his awesome rookie year Adams effectively plateaued, never making another All-Star team - he was good, just more the above-average type. As for Davis, his shortened season was a combination of knee problems and drug problems. And that playoff berth? Well the West was a joke that season as the Suns won all of 36 games to get their berth and were dispatched by the Lakers with ease - losing each game of their 3 game playoff series by at least 16 points. From a roster standpoint, starting point guard Kyle Macy signed with the Bulls and double-digit scoring forward Maurice Lucas was dealt to the Lakers for 2 second round picks.
How It Went: The team won just 32 games and although Davis played in 70, he was placed on the suspended list by the Suns in December as he admitted himself to a 30 day drug rehabilitation program. A season in which you won 32 games and your best player put himself in rehab is bad, yes?
Reasons To Be Excited: Steve Nash was still around and coming off a season during which he played at a pretty high level. There was a full season of Marcin Gortat to look forward to or something I guess. Also Shannon Brown was signed! At least there was basketball - although it was going to appear in 66 game form. I personally hated this season before it started.
Reasons For Apathy: The team effectively made no significant roster moves off a team that won 40 games the season before. In addition the star of the team was 37 (Nash) and his wingman was 39 (Grant Hill). Maybe I'm a little biased because going to all the games this season made me want to gouge my eyes out but it was impossible to be excited about a team that added only Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Sebastian Telfair (Michael Redd was added after the season's 2nd game) to a roster filled with old guys and role players being asked to start (Dudley, Frye).
How It Went: Pretty much exactly the same as the previous season which is pretty much exactly what anyone could have expected. The Suns went 33-33 and weren't eliminated from playoff contention until the 2nd to last game of the season where Utah physically punished Marcin Gortat like he was Rocky Balboa in his first fight with Clubber Lang. A statistic I'd really like to see for this season is time I spent looking at my phone during home games which I attended.
Reasons To Be Excited: For three straight seasons in the mid 90's the Suns were bonafide title contenders and they were just a year removed from that period. In fact, Kevin Johnson, Danny Manning, AC Green, and Wayman Tisdale were still around from those teams. And now they were flanked by young talent like Sam Cassell and Robert Horry - those dudes were NBA Champions twice over you guys. Plus Michael Finley was All-Rookie team his first season and the Suns were adding exciting shooting guard Rex Chapman!
Reasons For Apathy: That "year removed" from title contention was one which saw the Suns trade All-Star Dan Majerle for "professional basketball player" Hot Rod Williams, go from 59 wins to 41, saw Paul Westphal lose his job, and saw Charles Barkley force his way out of town. Barkley's 35 cents on the dollar trade brought Cassell and Horry as the young prospects and Chucky Brown and Mark Bryant as the career backups. This roster was a uninspiring combination of players who were either too old to be the man or just plain not good enough - and sometimes both. Barkley's trade truly signaled the end of an era.
How It Went: The team started 0-8 which caused Cotton Fitzsimmons to resign his post and turn the reigns over to Danny Ainge. The high point of the season was in December when Cassell, Finley, and Green were shipped off to Dallas in a deal which brought Jason Kidd to Phoenix. The low point of the season was probably a few weeks later when Horry - a guy who is basically a cartoon super villain for Suns fans - threw a towel in Ainge's face in a huddle in Boston. He was gleefully given a ticket out of town days later in a deal which put him on the Lakers, setting him up to wound us all for years to come.
Reasons To Be Excited: Charlie Scott averaged 25 points per game as a 25 year old, Dick Van Arsdale was still around and scoring, and the team drafted All-American big man John Shumate out of Notre Dame with the 4th pick in the draft. And...how about they traded for Dennis Awtrey's perm?
Reasons For Apathy: Future Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins had been dealt to the Lakers 8 games into the previous season and Neal Walk - who had just posted back to back double-double seasons and was 25 years old - was traded to the Jazz for Awtrey, Nate Hawthorne, and Curtis Perry who combined were right around Walk's production (seriously...Walk was 16.8/10.2 and the other three were 14.9/12.3 combined). Not to mention double digit scorer Clem Haskins was traded for Dave Stallworth - a guy who ended up on this list. All that rostery goodness plus the Suns were coming off a 30-win season which was their worst since the expansion season.
How It Went: The team rocketed up the standings by winning 32 games instead of 30 and missed the playoffs by roughly forever (11 games). Shumate missed the entire season while suffering from blood clots.
Reasons To Be Excited: Walter Davis had returned to 20 point per game form the previous year, Nance was officially a consistent 20/8 guy, and James Edwards was a reliable big man. Phoenix snagged 7 footer William Bedford with the 6th pick in the draft. Also Alvan Adams was still around which people seemed to really like.
Reasons For Apathy: The team won just 32 games which was their worst performance in more than a decade and although Davis was quite the scorer again, as previously mentioned he was coming off of a season during which he went to drug rehab for cocaine use. So the best player was constantly a threat to relapse and outside of Bedford this was basically the same roster that just won 32 games. Expectations were not at an all-time high.
How It Went: They won 36 games basically because Davis played at an All-Star level again and Nance was really good still. Bedford stunk out loud and John Macleod lost his job. See #1 on this list for what happened to this team with three games left in its season.
Reasons To Be Excited: Walter Davis was an All-Star the previous season and the team added prolific scorer Eddie Johnson to flank him. They were also rolling out the 2nd pick in the 1987 draft in UNLV power forward Armen Gilliam, and still had Larry Nance around.
Reasons For Apathy: Sure the team had won just 36 games the previous season, fired long-time head man John MacLeod in-season, and dealt the 6th overall pick from 1986 (William Bedford) because he was such a train wreck but yeah....it was just this:
On April 18, 1987 the Maricopa County Attorney's Office indicted 13 people including three members of the Suns on charges of possessing and trafficking in cocaine or marijuana. The two month investigation showed the players were frequenting a local establishment and obtaining cocaine.
That scenario had begun to trouble the partnership that owned the Suns. Colangelo sensed this-and worried that the team might soon be bought from under him and perhaps moved to another city. "I felt pressure, subtle or whatever, that there were some people in this league not so anxious to see this thing resolved so that Phoenix lived happily ever after," he says. "Maybe they felt it was best if this franchise wasn't even here." When asked who gave him this feeling, Colangelo shrugs. A moment later he blurts, "Might have been the league office."
Phoenix Suns center Nick Vanos, a crowd favorite and a candidate to start next season, was among those killed Sunday in the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 near Detroit, a team spokesperson said Monday.
So as far as I'm concerned it really can't get any worse than your team facing a drug scandal in the offseason - a drug scandal so bad that your owner was concerned the team would be ripped away from him and moved out of town, followed by an active player and fan favorite dying tragically in a plane crash. Until there's an offseason that bad, you win 1987-88. And I hope you win forever.
How It Went: The team won only 28 games but Jerry Colangelo overhauled the roster in-season, trading Nance for Kevin Johnson, Mark West, and Tyrone Corbin and dealing Jay Humphries and James Edwards out of town. The next summer they drafted Dan Majerle, signed Tom Chambers, cut ties with Walter Davis, and moved on completely from the darkest era in franchise history.
Discuss away. I'd imagine 2010-2011 warrants some consideration but I think a lot of us had talked ourselves into something to the effect of "Who needs Amar'e, we've got Steve and he can do anything with whatever crap we give him."
Welcome to Bizzaro World. The Phoenix Mercury won a thrilling game three against the Los Angeles Sparks on the road, in their house, in what will amount to an instant classic behind what amounted to a game winning shot and a huge defensive stop in the final seconds.
In the final 10 seconds Candace Parker made a quick move to the basket on a brilliant out of bounds call, which was countered by a Brittney Griner jumper and anchored by a DeWanna Bonner closeout on the defensive end.
Something about that feels backwards.
But as the Mercury celebrated in Los Angeles like kids in a pool on a hot summer day, they marched off the floor to an appropriate tune echoing; I Don't Care.
After losing in game two, Griner wore her emotion on her sleeves and took it out on a traffic cone, which was not necessary after she turned over her left shoulder and nailed a baseline jumper that was the penultimate moment before the confetti fell. This season has been about accomplishment and struggle for the rookie phenom. She took her lumps learning how to play in the pick-and-roll at the professional level.
Griner is a physical specimen that has dominated based on that and that alone. She has come a long way to not only have the confidence from her coach to be the second option on a final offensive possession in the win-or-go-home play.
You are really screening for Diana... Interim Head Coach Russ Pennell barked in the final huddle of the game. Griner was being setup to give a screen for Taurasi to spring free and attack. We have enough time to throw it there and you have to post. Additional directions for Griner in case the defense jumped Taurasi. Once you screen we can throw it right into you. There was some more direction for Briana Gilbreath to give some fake action and Dupree to set a pin down, but the gist of this was obvious; the game was coming down to Taurasi or Griner.
That was the final huddle where Coach Russ Pennell drew up the final play that was designed for Taurasi, but setup the opportunity up for Griner to make a play if the defense keys in on the superstar like they had the play before. Coach Pennell had the confidence in the moment to put the ball in his rookie's hands if the play broke down for her to make a play.
Throughout the season Griner has had her ups-and-her-downs on the offensive end surely making this one of the more satisfying moments in her young career.
"It's been up and down," Griner stated after the game of her season. "Especially tonight. It wasn't one of my best games until the end but that's really all that matters. I'm glad I could do that for my team."
Conversely, Bonner has been an offensive Swiss Army Knife for the past few seasons for the Mercury either off the bench, in a staring role, or starting as a compliment like this season. She has created the reputation as a tough one-on-one cover inside 10-12 feet and a deep bomber from three. There are very few things that Bonner cannot do on the offensive end, but this season has been a struggle on the defensive end.
Those struggles were evident in rotations and team scheme situations this year as opponents would target her side of the defense for easy baskets and momentum changing three-point shots.
Bonner has great length and size to disrupt an offensive player when she gets after them. That is what Candace Parker realized as she tried to turn the corner, but was met with the 6-4, long, and determined Bonner not allowing her to turn the corner like she had just three seconds prior (in game time) for an easy lay-up. The rotations have been criticized often, but in this game, in that final play, they were the difference in Parker turning to the rim for a drive or passing to Kristi Tolliver for a makeable three-point shot.
With Bonner and Taurasi trapping Parker she turned to Tolliver as the secondary option only to see Gilbreath there instead in the passing lane.
The trap was set and Parker, forced with no other options, threw-up a shot with no chance of going in as the Mercury move on to the Western Conference Finals for the forth time in five years.
On the surface this seemed like an improbable feat; beating the second seeded Los Angeles Sparks on their home floor in not one, but two games and advancing to the Conference Finals as the three seed. Then again that was the plan from the beginning now wasn't it? Before the season a poll of five ESPN Basketball Analysts including Rebecca Lobo and Kate Fagan thought that the Mercury would be a playoff team and 60% of them saw them as the uncrowned WNBA Champions.
Over on Swish Appeal Albert Lee saw the Mercury as the second best team out west only behind the Minnesota Lynx.
This is where the team was expected to be, but the journey was so bumpy and filled with unexpected twists that this almost feels like a surprise by the Mercury, getting to this point. Taurasi was a pre-season MVP candidate and Griner was a Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year favorite to boot.
This was expected.
But in a bizarre way, winning only 19 games, losing three in a row, and at one point, six out of seven games in a particularly low stretch. The team struggled with injuries, coaching changes, and a general sense of underperforming. There were positives and negatives, some extreme lows and, with their recent play, an extreme high heading to the Western Conference Finals.
The Mercury are right where they are supposed to be, but found a way to do it with a former Division I Men's Basketball Coach, a defensive enforcer hitting game winners, and an offensive dynamo closing games out with a fortified defense.
In Bizzaro World this is how the 2013 Phoenix Mercury advance and win. In this Bizzaro World they have become the team everyone expected them to be.
The NBA season is on the horizon as the Phoenix Suns will host their annual media day September 30th before heading up north for Training Camp. There are loads of new faces on the roster and throughout the organization that are going to start putting their fingerprints on the franchise going forward.
With the Suns there are more questions than answers making them more provocative than the generic lottery team and a fascinating case study going forward.
Break up the Bright Siders, we got some questions and some answers, and likely some shenanigans as we take a look at the outlook of the Suns as they head to camp.
Seventeenth Topic: Training Camp is right around the corner. Need I say more?
1. Breaking the Ice: Last year the team delivered convincing lip-service that this was a playoff contender. What do you expect the message to be this year?
Jim Coughenour: Although I'm sure it won't be something even remotely as fatuous, it is kind of nice, in a twisted sort of way, when they say things that turn out to be insanely idiotic (in retrospect). Even those of us who were gullible enough to buy last season's ketchup popsicle (to varying degrees - Jim sheepishly raises hand) still had the opportunity to chuckle at/deride the lack of front office foresight. We had plenty of discussions as to what they should have said, after all they can't just come out and say they're going to suck, right? Well, I think this year we'll get a much more diplomatic prediction along the lines of youth, development and improvement.
Jacob Padilla: I think it's the same thing we've been getting since the regime change. They're going to talk about youth, development and up-tempo basketball, with little mention of tangible expectations or predictions.
Dave King: I am highly curious about the message I will hear next week. Dragic and Frye have both already said they expect to play to win as many games as possible. As Babby put it last year, how can you tell actual NBA basketball players you don't want them to win? That's puts a loser mindset on the entire organization. I expect to hear some conflicting messages. Kool-aid flows through players and front offices just as much as fans. The front office will be circumspect, while the coach and players will be optimistic. That's my guess.
Kris Habbas: I hate to answer a question with a question, but -- How much hurt could honesty bring? The fans are not ignorant to the fact that this is a rebuilding team and it is unwise to patronize fans in general, it could even be considered a slap to the proverbial face even. The message of a rebuilding team with an exciting new coach, athletic new players, and the promise of a promising future is enough to appease the fan base.
Richard Parker: All about the future. They might say something along the lines of the team wanting to compete for a playoff spot (which is understandable), but I don't think anyone's going to say this is a playoff team. They'll continue to emphasize focus towards the future.
2. Should the team sell false hope or reality to the fans?
JP: Selling false hope is the worst thing they can do right now and will only serve to poison the team's relationship with the fans. Focus on the positives, but be realistic. As I said in my first answer, all of the emphasis must be placed on the youth and development and the implementation of the new system. No need to address concrete team goals in terms of the number of wins or anything like that.
DK: No. Despite my earlier answer, I do expect the message from the front office to be very even-keeled and introspective. I expect to hear "we don't know what this team can do" immediately followed by "this is a transition year - don't expect much". This summer's moves have been made with a clear vision: sustainable future. Expect that to be sold by McDonough and Babby. Where we will hear the kool-aid is from players and coaches.
KH: The great thing about reality and hope with the Suns in specific is that they are one in the same. There is no sales required to let the fans know that the team is building through the draft, has an aggressive gameplan, and that they have the right people in place to make the decisions going forward. Hope, reality, or whatever it is called, the Suns have plenty of it to sell.
RP: Not at all. They should market hope, but only the kind that actually exists with this team, and that entails the team's future prospects.
JC: Reality. Especially after last season. I don't like being treated like an idiot and I'm sure that the vast majority of fans share that sentiment. It's one thing to not live up to expectations, but setting realistic goals is definitely the right approach for this season.
3. Overall the roster is set at 17 players and have to trim some fat, who ends up being the fat?
DK: The Suns have a month to figure this out, and I am sure they will. Either McD will make a massive trade to get a 2010-extendee who can't come to terms with his current team, or they will simply eat the contracts of Smith and Lee (for example). It's also possible they decide four centers is too many. I think Christmas stays, no matter what.
KH: It seems the team is obnoxiously deep at the "point guard" position with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Kendall Marshall, Malcolm Lee, and Ish Smith. If there is fat to trim it is there. The future is in either Dragic or Bledsoe, but the team has already invested so much into Marshall that he should get top priority over the newcomers for a chance to prove he can be a part of the teams future. Either Lee, Smith, or both should be the casualties after camp is out.
RP: Malcolm Lee, Ish Smith, Viacheslav Kravtsov and to a lesser extent, Dionte Christmas are my picks. Expect two of these guys to be never suit up in one of those spiffy new Suns uniforms.
JC: It is going to be tough to decide between such a talented group of players, so I propose a steel cage death match... or we could run them through an obstacle course like MXC. No reason why we can't turn this into an entertaining venue instead of the banal pink slip process.
JP: This team has a lot of small guards. Goran Dragic, Eric Bledose, Shannon Brown, Gerald Green, Kendall Marshall and Archie Goodwin aren't going anywhere before opening day. However, Dionte Christmas, Ish Smith and Malcolm Lee are all on the bubble and still need to earn their spots in training camp and the preseason. The Suns also have a pair of bottom-of-the-roster bigs in Miles Plumlee and Slava Ktravtsov. Kravtsov was actually better than Plumlee when looking at their numbers in limited minutes, but Plumlee was the highly drafted player. With a Marcin Gortat trade possibly on the horizon, the Sun may choose to keep both of them. But I wouldn't be surprised to see either one cut. Lee, Smith, Christmas, Kravtsov, Plumlee would be my list in order of likeliness to be cut.
4. Thoughts on the team bringing Training Camp back home to Flagstaff?
KH: Less distractions, closer to home for the fans, and a call-back to yesteryear for the team as they try to initiate a nostalgia plan while building a better basketball team. Cannot be mad about that.
RP: Like Jacob, it doesn't mean too much to me. I guess I can be happy about the team embracing its history, though.
JC: Good for the players. Phoenix is still running over 100 degrees and most of these guys enjoy cooler climates during the offseason. If it was me I'd rather be there. I don't think fans here in Phoenix would be clamoring to get into canned food for admission practices anyway (are you?) so it seems like a winner.
JP: Cool? Doesn't really affect me in any way. I don't even know where Flagstaff is, other than a LONG way away from me.
DK: Love it, love it, love it. It just doesn't work out to head up the hill for the open scrimmage, unfortunately, but I loved it when the Suns took over Flagstaff for a week each year when I lived there. Those guys will love it too.
5. Since the team went into Training Camp with 23 players in 2012 and left with 15 to start the season; Should they carry a full 15 this year or a smaller roster?
RP: It really won't make a difference, to be honest. I guess the team SHOULD carry 15 players so they can maybe find a keeper among those end-of-the-bench guys.
JC: Might as well carry as many as they can. McMiracle has already displayed a penchant for wheeling and dealing, and even if these guys never see meaningful minutes they can still be useful commodities in some sense. Injuries and other situations can also change the landscape in terms of playing time.
JP: Sure. If the 15th man needs to be cut to make a deal happen later on, so bet it. But the more the merrier right now. The young bigs and guards at the bottom of the bench will be good practice bodies and give McDonough enough "depth" to trade away a contributor if a good opportunity arises.
DK: Sure. The Suns still have a ton of cap room. They have to pay 17 contracts regardless, so why not put 15 of them into uniforms?
KH: If there are 15 talented, NBA level players with potential, then you carry a full 15 players into the season. Hording talent is something every team should be trying to do every season. Last year Luke Zeller didn't make it that far into the season even after being dubbed one of the "best shooters in the world" from the management team. Maybe this management group can just find an NBA player coming out of camp.
BONUS: What do you want to see the team add in camp this year?
JC: More cowbell. The sooner they can get rid of Gortat the better, but I think the fact that he's still on the team is fairly indicative of the market (welp). They've added plenty. I'm ready to see how this conglomeration
takes forever to come together melds through training camp and in the early season. October 1st here we come. Basketball.
JP: I just want the team to get on the same page on both ends of the court. That was a big problem last year, an one that comes down to coaching and effort by the players. I'd like to see everyone buy in and do their jobs and start to develop some chemistry.
DK: I identity that everyone can follow. I am tired of seeing the team come out of training camp and preseason without an identity. They need to "this" team or "that" team, not some amalgamation of several styles.
KH: Shooting. Period. This team has the potential to be historically bad from behind the arc if they do not find some shooters this summer or find improvement with the cast they have. Whether that is a young player or a veteran, this team needs some reputable shooters more than anything else to avoid historical pitfalls this year. Is there a third Morris Twin we do not know about?
RP: Andrew Wiggins. Kidnap him, take him to training camp, get him to stay, and somehow fool the rest of the world into thinking he's Gerald Green.