The Phoenix Suns decided that 17 players weren't enough to survive a 5-day training camp and 3-week, 7-game preseason schedule. So they added an 18th player, and 9th guard, to the roster for competition.

While Nunnally's chances to make the Suns regular season roster are quite slim due to the guaranteed nature of everyone else's contract, it's always fun to watch players compete for playing time. Nunnally is one such underdog.

After going undrafted last year, 6-7 swingman James Nunnally (Tweet him at @AllorNunn21 to wish him well in Phoenix!) went to the D-League to further develop his talents. While he did not star for the Suns' affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, Nunnally created a niche for himself that has become popular in the NBA.

Ridiculous Upside - Unsung players to watch in Summer League

Nunnally is the ultimate 3 and D player who can spread the floor offensively (shot 40% from 3 last year) while being able to defend some of the best guards the D-League had to offer.

Nunnally still was a role player for the Miami Heat's Summer League team, starting only 1 of 7 games, but like Dionte Christmas for the Suns he made his mark by being a scorer when he got his chance.

Nunnally scored 13 points per game in only 19 minutes, making his mark on 3-pointers to the tune of 63%. Nunnally's best game was a second-half surge in the Vegas Semifinals against the Suns that helped Miami erase a 20+ point deficit in short order.

Also, that little video helps to remind starving Suns fans of (a) Suns basketball and (b) a winning SL team that almost took home the Vegas crown (reportedly a pair of Elvis sideburns).

Screen_shot_2013-09-29_at_6

Screen_shot_2013-09-29_at_6

As Kris says, the Suns need shooters. Hopefully, Nunnally can show his defensive moxie while continuing to make threes at a torrid pace. While he might now survive to the regular season, Nunnally has an opportunity to advance his dreams of an NBA career.

The Phoenix Suns added forward James Nunnally to the roster, giving the team 18 players heading into training camp, which begins Monday. The 23-year-old from UC Santa Barbara has played in the NBA...

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After an offseason of brilliance and blundering we've trudged through another summer desert and arrived at a training camp oasis.  The media days for teams playing international games started yesterday (Friday, September 27th), which means that Derrick Rose has already gone through a bombardment of questions as he makes his return.  Here are dates and locations for the overseas schedule as well as a full schedule of all games and tv times and networks carrying the games (as well as some stateside preseason contests).

The Suns version of the media day tradition occurs Monday, September 30th.  The Brightside will be bringing all the best and "bright"est from that event and will be following the team up the hill to Flagstaff for coverage of practices and the team's intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, October 5th.  But... before all the pandemonium ensues I figured I could help refresh your memory as to some of the summer activity around the league.

There was plenty of it. 13 coaches went by way of the carousel.  Six of them led teams to the playoffs last season. Lionel Hollins was given a pink slip after coaching the Grizzlies to their best season in franchise history.  Dwight Howard left the Lakers (ha!) for redder pastures.  Cleveland unfathomably selected Anthony Bennett first in the NBA draft, possibly beginning a run on Canadians as #1 overall picks.  Still a surprising pick to me, although I guess getting the #1 pick last year was kind of like winning a shopping spree in a dollar store...  The Celtics ended an era.  The Pelicans began one.  The Spurs did very little (but will almost surely manage to improve nonetheless).  And, of course, the Miami Heat signed Michael Beasley.

Think about that Suns fans... Michael Beasley may very well get a championship ring. After you stop feeling dizzy please read on. After all, it's training camp time.  You've had all summer to rest (particularly the last few weeks in September).

Just remember everyone... Winter Basketball is coming.  And it's going to be a long season.

I'll go ahead and get the Suns out of the way first, because that's what the ransom note says to do they might be a sucky team, but they're OUR sucky team.

Phoenix Suns

Out - Michael Beasley PF, Jared Dudley SF, Diante Garrett PG, Hamed Haddadi C, Wesley Johnson SF, Jermaine O'Neal C, Luis Scola PF

In - Eric Bledsoe SG, Dionte Christmas SG, Channing Frye PF, Gerald Green SF, Viacheslav Kravstov C, Malcolm Lee SG, Miles Plumlee PF, Ish Smith PG, Alex Len C (#5 Maryland), Archie Goodwin SG (#29 Kentucky)

**UPDATE: In - James Nunnally - 6'7", 205 pound shooter who made 41% on threes in D-League last year and 63% on threes in SL. Also, he scored 21 second half points to help Miami come close beating the juggernaut Summer Suns. Remember that?

Out - Lindsey Hunter

In - Jeff Hornacek

The Suns were one of the most active teams in the league this summer.  I didn't (have enough time to) go through the front office situations specific to each franchise, but the Suns also turned the GM reigns over to Ryan McDonough after the ouster of the oft derided, and deservedly so, Lance Blanks.  Phoenix was finally able/willing to scrap the final remnants of a bad team full of veteran players and construct a bad team full of young players.  The potentates running this show also made the (very sagacious) decision to scrap a socially awkward (sorry, that was the nicest thing I could think to write) coach, Lindsey Hunter, and bring back a fan favorite to help incite the rebuild.

Why this team will be fun to watch - Well, they are the Suns... but besides the attention from fans of the purple paladins there isn't going to be any much interest.  For those of us who are devout followers, though, there has been so much tumult that this is really going to be like getting to know a brand new team.  Players may have to wear name tags. Alex Len and Channing Frye have both been medically cleared.  There is going to be a lot of running.  There will be a ferocious competition for the final roster spots (between players who are very unlikely to contribute in any capacity).  To be perfectly candid, though, this is actually going to be the start of something very refreshing for many who have stuck with the team over the last few seasons.

Los Angeles Clippers

Out - Eric Bledsoe SG, Caron Butler SF, Lamar Odom PF

In - Darren Collison PG, Jared Dudley SF, Antawn Jamison PF, Byron Mullens C, J.J. Redick SG, Reggie Bullock SF (#25 North Carolina)

Out - Vinny Del Negro

In - Doc Rivers

Even without the tragically comedic soap opera that is Lamar Odom the Clips should have no problem keeping both of their fans engrossed.  They actually have added a complete five man lineup this offseason that could probably hang with, or beat, the Suns best five man lineup.  The Clippers might be the deepest team in the league this season as they should have between 9-11 quality contributors depending on how things play out.

Things should play out well with new head coach Doc Rivers as the architect and Chris Paul as the engineer. (Punching bag) Vinny Del Negro may have taken more grief than deserved, but there's no rational argument that this isn't an upgrade.  Seeing these guys mesh together and take on their roles should be interesting.  Are the Clippers, and Chris Paul for that matter, poised to go past the Conference Semifinals for the first time ever?

Brooklyn Nets

Out - C.J. Watson PG, Gerald Wallace SF, Kris Humphries PF, Keith Bogans SG

In - Kevin Garnett PF, Andre Kirilenko PF, Shaun Livingston SG, Paul Pierce SF, Jason Terry SG, Alan Anderson SF, Mason Plumlee C (#22 Duke)

Out - P.J. Carlesimo

In - Jason Kidd

The Nets are officially in win now mode with eight players (over half their roster) over 30 years of age.  The plan is to add the old guard, and I do mean old, from the Celtics last successful era to a nucleus of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez in an attempt to topple the Heat.  That's the hope as Garnett and Pierce have a history of playing them tough.  They will face stiff competition from the Bulls and Pacers as well...

The dynamic in their practices should be unique in that new head coach Jason Kidd is basically the same age as the new veterans.  Will Kidd actually possess plenipotentiary power over the team, or will the presence of other legends detract from that?  Will there be a harmony in that interaction?  Will there be enough left in the tank for the Brooklyn Celtics to make a run this year?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Out - Shaun Livingston

In - Jarrett Jack SG, Earl Clark PF, Andrew Bynum C, Anthony Bennett PF (#1 UNLV), Sergey Karasev SF (#19 Triumph Lyubertsy, Russia)

Out - Byron Scott

In - Mike Brown

Cleveland has one of the most electric young stars in the league in Kyrie Irving and will trot out the #1 overall pick from the 2013 draft in Anthony Bennett.  This should be a fun growing team to watch and it will start with the improvement over the summer from the precocious returning players. The Cavs added Jack to combine with Anderson Varejao as the veteran presence on a team whose core four players are all 22 and under. In fact, Jack and Varejao are the only players on the roster over the age of 26.

Bring in Mike Brown.  Err... I mean, bring back Mike Brown.  That's why you never burn your bridges folks.  Brown has actually had the daunting task/privilege of coaching LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and (now) Kyrie Irving over a four year period.  So far he's working on his zeroth consecutive championship.  Will he be able to return and bring Cleveland the trophy that eluded him in his previous stint?  He gets nearly a blank slate, as only Varejao remains from the last season he coached.

Golden St. Warriors

Out - Jarrett Jack SG, Carl Landry PF

In - Toney Douglas PG, Andre Iguodala SG, Nemanja Nedovic PG (#30 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, Lithuania)

I might have been a little slow to catch on, because I didn't get enveloped by bay fever until their captivating first round series against the Denver Nuggets during last year's playoffs.  This team was just flat out fun to watch and has the chance to be even more entertaining this season with the addition of Iggy, which promises to help the Warriors enter whirling dervish mode.  Whenever I think of this team I correlate them with the scrappy underdog.  They're like Little Mac from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! except everyone reading this has actually heard of them.

Then consider that Golden St.'s core of sharpshooters Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are all young and improving.  This team can catch fire like NBA Jam characters and will have stretches where they are absolutely unstoppable.  The chance to see Jackson's tutelage firsthand away from the cameras and maybe catch a couple of behind the scenes games of horse would also be great theater.

----------

I've also constructed some cliff's notes for the other 25 teams.  Note that I haven't included all transactions and movement.  I mostly limited the shifting of veterans to players who logged at least 1,000 minutes last season with a few exceptions.  I also included all 30 first round draft picks.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Out - Kevin Martin SG

In -Steven Adams C (#12 Pittsburgh), Andre Roberson PF (#26 Colorado)

Denver Nuggets

Out - Corey Brewer SF, Andre Iguodala SG, Kosta Koufos C

In - Darrell Arthur PF, Randy Foye SG, J.J. Hickson PF, Nate Robinson PG

Out - George Karl

In - Brian Shaw

Utah Jazz

Out - DeMarre Carroll SF, Randy Foye SG, Al Jefferson C, Paul Millsap PF, Jamaal Tinsley PG, Mo Williams PG

In - Richard Jefferson SF, Brandon Rush SF, Trey Burke PG  (#9 Michigan), Rudy Gobert C (#27 Cholet Basket, France)

Portland Trail Blazers

Out -J.J. Hickson PF, Eric Maynor PG

In - Robin Lopez C, Thomas Robinson PF, Mo Williams PG, Dorell Wright SF, C.J. McCollum SG (#9 Lehigh)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Out - Andrei Kirilenko PF, Luke Ridnour SG, Greg Steimsma C

In - Corey Brewer SF, Kevin Martin SG, Shabazz Muhammad SF (#14 UCLA), Gorgui Dieng C (#21 Louisville)

Los Angeles Lakers

Out - Earl Clark PF, Dwight Howard C, Antawn Jamison PF, Metta World Peace SF

In - Chris Kaman C, Nick Young SG, Wesley Johnson SF

Sacramento Kings

Out - Tyreke Evans SG, Thomas Robinson PF

In - Carl Landry PF, Luc Mbah a Moute SF, Greivis Vasquez PG, Ben McLemore SG (#7 Kansas)

Out - Keith Smart

In - Michael Malone

San Antonio Spurs

Out - Stephen Jackson SF, Gary Neal SG

In - Marco Belinelli SG, Livio Jean-Charles SF (#28 ASVEL Basket, France)

Memphis Grizzlies

Out - Darrell Arthur PF

In - Kosta Koufos

Out - Lionel Hollins

In - David Joerger

Houston Rockets

Out - Carlos Delfino SF, Toney Douglas PG

In - Dwight Howard C

Dallas Mavericks

Out - O.J. Mayo SG, Darren Collison PG, Chris Kaman C, Elton Brand PF

In - Monta Eliis SG, Jose Calderon PG, Devin Harris PG, Shane Larkin PG (#18 Miami)

New Orleans Pelicans

Out - Greivis Vasquez PG, Robin Lopez C

In - Tyreke Evans SG, Jrue Holiday PG, Greg Stiemsma C

New York Knicks

Out - Steve Novak SF, Chris Copeland SF, Jason Kidd PG

In - Andrea Bargnani PF, Beno Udrih PG, Metta World Peace SF, Tim Hardaway Jr. (#24 Michigan)

Boston Celtics

Out - Paul Pierce SF, Kevin Garnett PF, Jason Terry SG

In - Gerald Wallace SF, Kris Humphries PF, Keith Bogans SG, Kelly Olynyk C (#13 Gonzaga)

Out - Doc Rivers

In - Brad Stevens

Philadelphia 76ers

Out - Jrue Holiday PG, Dorell Wright SF, Nick Young SG

In - Nerlens Noel C (#6 Kentucky), Michael Carter-Williams (#11 Syracuse)

Out - Doug Collins

In - Brett Brown

Toronto Raptors

Out - Alan Anderson SF, Andrea Bargnani PF, Ed Davis PF

In - D.J. Augustin PG, Tyler Hansbrough PF, Steve Novak SF

Indiana Pacers

Out - Tyler Hansbrough PF, Gerald Green SF, D.J. Augustin PG

In - Chris Copeland SF, Luis Scola PF, C.J. Watson PG, Solomon Hill SF (#23 Arizona)

Chicago Bulls

Out - Nate Robinson PG, Marco Belinelli SG

In - Mike Dunleavy SF, Tony Snell SF (#20 New Mexico)

Milwaukee Bucks

Out - Brandon Jennings PG, Monta Ellis SG, Mike Dunleavy SF, Luc Mbah a Moute SF, Marquis Daniels SF

In - Caron Butler SF, Carlos Delfino SF, Brandon Knight PG, O.J. Mayo SG, Gary Neal SG, Zaza Pachulia C, Giannia Antetokounmpo SF (#15 Filathlitikos, Greece)

Out - Jim Boylan

In - Larry Drew

Detroit Pistons

Out - Brandon Knight PG, Tayshaun Prince SF, Jason Maxiell Pf

In - Brandon Jennings PG, Josh Smith PF, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG (#8 Georgia)

Out - Lawrence Frank

In - Maurice Cheeks

Miami Heat

Out - None

In - Michael Beasley PF, Greg Oden C

Atlanta Hawks

Out - Josh Smith PF, Devin Harris PG, Ivan Johnson PF, Zaza Pachulia C, DeShawn Stevenson SG

In - Elton Brand PF, DeMarre Carroll SF, Paul Millsap PF, Dennis Schroder PG (#17 Phantoms Braunschweig, Germany)

Out - Larry Drew

In - Mike Budenholzer

Washington Wizards

Out - Jordan Crawford SG, A.J. Price PG

In - Eric Maynor PG, Otto Porter SF (#3 Indiana)

Charlotte Bobcats

Out - Byron Mullens C

In - Al Jefferson C, Cody Zeller C (#4 Indiana)

Out - Mike Dunlap

In - Steve Clifford

Orlando Magic

Out - J.J. Redick SG

In - Jason Maxiell PF, Victor Oladipo SG (#2 Indiana)

S : Best in the game (LeBron)

A+ : Right on heels of best player (Durant)

A : Top 5 player

A- : Top players at their position/Potential All-NBA players

B+ : All-Stars

B : Good starters/fringe All-Stars

B- : Good starter

C+ : decent starter

C : fringe starter/bench player

C- : good bench player

D+ : average bench player

D : Fringe rotation player

D- : bad player

F : not NBA caliber

Factors: production+efficiency+talent (emphasis on this year but whole career taken into account)

*Note: There is no specific order within each tier

- Previous Position Breakdowns -

I took a break from these rankings to break down Eric Bledsoe's game, but now I'm back to take a look at and grade the final position: centers.

As a reminder, for the purpose of these grades/rankings, I am not looking at last season in a vacuum. I am trying to give an idea of where each of these players stands in regards to each other after last season. One poor season doesn't sink a player's stock if the rest of his career paints a different story, the exact opposite is true as well. However, I am not factoring potential into my rankings, meaning rookies are graded as NBA players and do not garner special consideration because of their youth.

I'm probably making this more complicated and subjective than it needs to be, but I suppose that only makes for more discussion. With that being said, on to the rankings.

Tier 1 (A-)

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Even with a bad back playing in a system that he didn't really fit in, Dwight Howard still put up a big double-double season and led the league in rebounding. Full strength Dwight is an A on this scale as one of the most dominant players in the league.

Tier 2 (B+)

This is a really solid group of excellent centers. Brook Lopez is the best scorer in this group, but the other five make up for being a lesser scorer by being great defensive players. They all get it done in their own way but they most certainly do get the job done.

Tier 3 (B)

Cousins_mediumMandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

In his old age and based on his last couple years with Boston, I've classified Kevin Garnett a center. He'll be moving back to power forward this year in Brooklyn so we'll see how that goes. KG isn't quite what he once was but he's still a solid player that can impact the game on offense, defense and on the glass. DeMarcus Cousins is a tremendous talent but his attitude issues and inefficiency mean I can't put him any higher on this list.

Tier 4 (B-)

Defensive dynamos, relentless rebounders and prolific post scorers make up this tier of players. None of them are complete centers, but all of them are very talented and are definite starters.

    Tier 5 (C+)

    Pierre_mediumMandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

    Okafor and Nene are both best at the five, but even playing together they're playing pretty well in Washington. Kanter and Valanciunas are both young players who have flashed their talent in limited roles but are primed for a break-out campaign in 2013-14. Splitter is a player who has been very effective in his limited role in the San Antonio system. JaVale McGee is weird and hard to rank. The physical tools and at times the numbers are unbelievable, but the basketball IQ is unbelievable in a completely different way.

    This is where Marcin Gortat belongs at this point. Some continues to say that Gortat is atop 1- center, but I have 17 players ahead of him and another six on the same level. Gortat is a good player and would start for many teams, but overall he's just not that special.

    Tier 6 (C)

    These are solid role players that can start for a team with strong players elsewhere in the line-up, but are likely better coming off the bench.

    Tier 7 (C-)

    Kaman_mediumMandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Back-ups that can step on the floor and hold their own in the paint are valuable for teams, and all of these guys bring one or two skills to the table that makes them effective.

    I searched for a picture of former Sun Jermaine O'Neal in our photo editor, but for some reason no pictures of him in a Suns jersey popped up. So instead you get Kaman beard.

    Tier 8 (D+)

    Most of these are young players still trying to find their role in the NBA. Oh, and Kendrick Perkins.

      Tier 9 (D)

      Slava_mediumMandatory Credit: Rick Osentaski-USA TODAY Sports

    • Joel Anthony
    • Nazr Mohammed
    • Johan Petro
    • Andris Biedrins
    • Timofey Mozgov
    • Bernard James
    • Brendan Haywood
    • Ryan Hollins
    • Cole Aldrich
    • Slava Kravtsov
    • All of these guys are marginal NBA players at this point.

      Tier 10 (D-)

      These guys aren't really all that good at basketball, but at they do have one thing going for them: they're very tall. Byron Mullens was one made basket away from pulling a Beasley last season (more shot attempts than points). New Sun Miles Plumlee made just five of his 21 shot attempts in only 55 minutes of action.

      The 2013-14 NBA season is quickly coming upon us, and the Phoenix Suns' first preseason game is less than two weeks away. However, if you consider yourself a die-hard fan and yet can't still name all of the players on the Suns right now, don't feel too bad...you're far from alone. In fact, I also had to cheat by looking at an official roster while writing this piece.

      Heck, even the official roster still has Diante Garrett listed as part of the team (he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder on August 29th).

      After a whirlwind of activity over the past few months by Ryan McDonough and company, and rightly so, it's difficult to remember all of the additions and subtractions.

      Sure, you can remember acquiring Eric Bledsoe, but what about Viacheslav Kravtsov?

      Although the Suns' roster is certain to change again before the start of the regular season begins, let's take a look at the current Phoenix Suns roster as they get set to begin training camp...as it stands for the time being, at least:

      Guards:

      Incoming: Eric Bledsoe, Dionte Christmas, Archie Goodwin, Malcolm Lee, Ish Smith

      Outgoing: Jared Dudley, Diante Garrett

      Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG

      Shannon Brown, SG

      Dionte Christmas, PG/SG

      Goran Dragic, PG

      Archie Goodwin, SG

      Malcolm Lee, SG

      Kendall Marshall, PG

      Ish Smith, PG

      You read that right. That's eight...count them...eight guards currently on the roster. This group isn't just likely to change again before the season officially begins, it's guaranteed to.

      Forwards:

      Incoming: Channing Frye* (returning from ailment), Gerald Green, Alex Oriakhi, Miles Plumlee

      Outgoing: Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Luis Scola

      Channing Frye, PF/C

      Gerald Green, SF

      Marcus Morris, SF

      Markieff Morris, PF

      Alex Oriakhi, PF

      Miles Plumlee, PF

      P.J. Tucker, SF

      Like the guards, you should expect to see some more change to this group before the actual season begins.

      Centers

      Incoming: Viacheslav Kravtsov, Alex Len

      Outgoing: Hamid Haddadi, Jermaine O'Neal

      Marcin Gortat

      Viacheslav Kravtsov

      Alex Len

      While this is the Suns' position of least depth, the return of Channing Frye still gives the Suns additional flexibility at this position. They could choose to hold onto Kravtsov as a cheap third option and trade Gortat before the trade deadline, or it's possible that Kravtsov doesn't make it past training camp...time will tell.

      What's next?

      The sum total of all the moves the Suns' organization made over the off-season has left us with this group of mostly fresh faces. If you were keeping a tally, that's only seven (eight if you count Frye) players of the 18 total who are currently listed on the Suns roster who played for Phoenix last season.

      While this roster is certain to see more movement before the start of the regular season (if nothing else, cutting at least three players to get to the maximum allowable of 15), this should hopefully give you a good idea of who you need to be rooting for, starting on Oct. 7th.

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