In going 3-2 in the preseason, the Phoenix Suns are showing some small trends of improvement. Sure, this is preseason but you take what you can get, and this is all we got.

The team is shooting 49.9% from the field and 36.3% on three-pointers, 43.5 rebounds, 9.0 steals and 105.2 points per game, all up from last year by a wide margin. On the downside, the Suns are only making 61% of their free throws and committing 18.8 turnovers per game.

Earmarks of a young team and a deep, deep rotation. Seventeen different players have seen action in at least 3 of the 5 games, with 11 of them getting at least one start. Only three players are getting at least 20 minutes per game (Eric Bledsoe, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat). And only one player is getting less than 10 minutes per game (Viacheslav Kravtsov), probably an indication that he will start against the Thunder.

While the Suns aren't running as hard as they want to throughout the year, they are playing fairly well and showing some moxie. After the loss to the Clippers last week, Jamal Crawford said, "they played hard. It's a preseason game but they played hard and the guys that came in really produced."

Here are some other random preseason numbers, in relation to the rest of the league:

Minutes per game

  • Eric Bledsoe leads the Suns in minutes but is only 81st in the league (23 mpg)
  • No other Suns player cracks the top 130
  • As you look at the Suns rankings below, it's important to remember the fewer minutes

Points per game

Steals per game

  • Eric Bledsoe is 2nd (3.0 per game)

Assists per game

  • Eric Bledsoe is 5th (5.4)

Rebounds per game

  • Marcin Gortat is 34th (5.4)

Blocks per game

Among rookies

  • Archie Goodwin and Alex Len are 28th and 29th in minutes per game (17.2 and 17.0)
  • Alex Len is 5th O-rebounds (1.8), 11th on D-rebounds (3.3), 8th overall (5.0)
  • Alex Len is 5th in blocks (0.8)
  • Dionte Christmas is 25th in steals (0.7)
  • Archie Goodwin is 20th in points (6.4)

There you have it Suns fans!

NBA preseason individual player stats

Suns preseason team stats

There’s really no question that Gerald Green is the best leaper in the NBA. A few weeks ago he put his neck on the rim during a Suns practice. In the 2008 NBA Dunk Contest, he blew out a candle on a...

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Clearly, the Phoenix Suns have not stopped making moves. Not one position is solidified for the future with a potential All-Star in the making. Maybe by the end of the 2013-14 season one or two will emerge from among Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin and Alex Len but that's a long shot.

Eric Bledsoe is who he is - a really good all-around player who doesn't excel at the pretty things like scoring. He is a bulldog on defense and gets a lot of steals, rebounds and blocks for a PG but All-Star voters don't respond to that (or Tony Allen would be an All-Star). He can pass, but he's not a natural floor leader. He can shoot, but he can't make them very often.

But Bledsoe will produce roughly 15 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game - his per-36 minutes numbers from last year backing up Chris Paul. This preseason, he's putting up basically those per-36 numbers with a few more assists (though he's only playing 23 minutes per game).

Archie Goodwin and Alex Len have the raw talent to someday be All-Stars but that talent is very, very raw indeed and may never turn into skill. At 19 and 20 years old, respectively, both have a lot of growing to do and will get the time to do it.

No one else on the current roster has the potential to be an All-Star. Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat are the team's best statistical players, but neither is top-10 at his position let alone rare enough to make an All-Star team.

So, the wheels must keep on turning.

Trade Rules

For this exercise, let's focus on the following

  • The trade will happen in the next week, before the regular season starts, meaning all current contracts are in place
  • The trade will acquire a young player on a rookie contract
  • The young player acquired must have a higher ceiling than any outgoing player, if even slightly
  • The trade must make a little sense - no John Wall for Kendall Marshall proposals, and no 'take our five crappiest players for your one really good one, because volume matters'
  • The Suns are still rebuilding and need a top pick next spring, so they can't get too much better
  • It's preferred that the player fit the Suns new up-tempo style
  • If you include a trade proposal, please don't just post the link to the ESPN trade machine and assume everyone will click it. Some people hate clicking through. Explain the parts of the trade in the comment.

The booty

With the Suns trying to improve their future, it's okay to include one or more future draft picks if that's what gets the deal done for a better individual player than anyone on the current roster.

Here's what the Suns have:

  • Two potential lottery picks in next two years
  • Three late-first picks in next two years
  • Morris, Morris and Marshall - three middling, but at least young, players who the acquiring team could release next summer if desired (so they are like expiring contracts) but could also, conceivably, break out on a new team
  • Len and Goodwin - high potential, low current production, very young
  • Marcin Gortat - only real valuable for a playoff team needing a center
  • Goran Dragic - only real valuable for a playoff team needed a point guard or a sixth man guard
  • Everyone else

The targets

Within the narrow scope of STAYING young and acquiring only players with upside, I am limiting my targets to players from the 2010-2012 drafts. My assumption is that it's too soon for another team to give up on a 2013 player.

I have also narrowed my choices to teams who want to fight for the playoffs this year. Only they would be wiling to dump younger talent for a chance to win games this season. So, no trades with Philly or Orlando, for example.

C Greg Monroe (entering 4th year)

Looking for a rookie extension going into his fourth year, Monroe is a good player that deserves $10+ million per year. He would cost a lot to acquire - likely 2 first round picks from among the 2013 (Len, Goodwin)/2014/2015 drafts AND a veteran that would help Detroit win games, such as Channing Frye, Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe.

  • Pros: Monroe is a very skilled player with good post scoring ability and rebounding prowess. He's getting squeezed out by the more-talented Andre Drummond at center, and is wanting a big contract extension off his rookie deal.
  • Cons: He is earth-bound much like Jared Dudley was for the Suns, and isn't a fast-break floor runner. He does not fit the mold of the new team, yet would be under a $10+ million multi-year contract. Another con is the asking price.
  • Conclusion: That's way too much for a guy who wouldn't fir the system yet would have to be extended for a lot of money. You wouldn't acquire Monroe while also keeping Len - they occupy the same spots on the floor. Isn't it too soon to write off Len for a really expensive version?

PF Ed Davis (entering 4th year)

Ed Davis never did establish future stardom in Toronto, then was traded (with others) for Rudy Gay last spring and now sits on the bench behind a really good front line on long-term contracts. He did not attend Summer League, thinking he was beyond that, which frustrated the Grizzlies. I am thinking Davis wants a playing opportunity he won't get in Memphis and would probably leave for a good offer next summer that the Grizz couldn't afford to match.

  • Pros: great floor runner, good rebounding and shot blocking, would fit the Suns new system
  • Cons: slender, only a marginal upgrade over Markieff Morris, yet good enough to expect a long-term extension. Really bad at post defense due to lack of sand in the bucket
  • Conclusion: depending on the cost, could be a valuable pickup and might blossom in the Suns new running system. But the Suns should not give up a lot for Davis.

F Jan Vesely (entering 3rd year)

He's been an incredible disappointment in Washington, with no NBA position besides "undersized center".  Has barely played for a really bad Washington team that suddenly wants to make the playoffs.

  • Pros: He's a floor runner with a high upside. Might cost almost nothing to acquire - like Kendall Marshall.
  • Cons: He cannot shoot worth a lick, and has trouble doing anything offensively. He has no NBA position, yet makes more than two Morrises put together due to high draft position.
  • Conclusion: If the cost is almost nothing AND the Suns have rotation room (ie. lots of players are jettisoned in some way) then maybe he's worth acquiring. But he'd be the 4th best option at small forward and center.

F Derrick Williams (entering 3rd year)

Another real disappointment since being taken top-5 in 2011. He and Vesely are quite the pair. A tweener who likely belongs at power forward in the NBA as an undersized guy, he hasn't even garnered a rotation spot in Minnesota this year - having already lost a starting spot to Corey Brewer. Corey. Brewer. He may not even get his fourth year option picked up.

  • Pros: has potential as a scorer in many ways. Could be an undersized PF in an uptempo system
  • Cons: Is basically a clone of Marcus Morris, only slightly better but making more than twice the money.
  • Conclusion: Would only be a roll-the-dice move by the Suns, much like Vesely. Not much of an upgrade. Would not get an extension, meaning he's likely this year's Wesley Johnson.

PF Kenneth Faried (entering 3rd year)

A surprise inclusion on this list, and one that likely is a laugher. Yet with Brian Shaw saying he wants to go more traditional in Denver, it's easy to see how an undersized power forward in Faried might not fit the new plan. Especially with Faried certainly wanting $10+ million a year next year in a rookie extension. Maybe the Suns could steal him for a package of prospects?

  • Pros: clearly fits an uptempo system as a floor runner, dunker and rebounder with tons of energy
  • Cons: He is what he is, meaning he won't ever score more than 10-12 points per game. He's basically a front-court version of Eric Bledsoe - tons of energy and activity, but not an All-Star.
  • Conclusion: With Faried 2 seasons away from big money, there's no reason for Denver to trade him unless the Suns totally blow them away with a big offer. Would likely take multiple #1s and a veteran like Frye or Gortat, which could ultimately be an overpayment for a guy who can't score.

SF Evan Turner (entering 4th year)

Turner has no interest in staying in Philadelphia and they likely have no interest in keeping him. They probably want to trade him before having to pull a Thabeet - not giving a 4th year contract to a former #2 overall pick (2010).

  • Pros: He's got talent. He can run an offense from the small forward position, and upped his corner-3 percentage to the mid-30s. And, he rebounds very well from the SF position
  • Cons: He can't shoot. Period. The guy has very little offensive game, which hurts his efficiency and ends up clogging the lane because his guy can sag off. Plus, Turner shoots a LOT of midrange jumpers, the worst shot on the court.
  • Conclusion: He can likely be had for very little in return, but the cost of his salary would make the Suns refuse to pick up his 4th year option, making him the 2013-14 version of Wesley Johnson. If you're counting, that's three potential acquisitions now that are not much better than Marshall, the Morrii, and Wesley Johnson.

SG Jeremy Lamb

Lots of Suns fans - and Suns front office folks - wanted Jeremy Lamb last year. He's currently under a great deal of pressure to succeed in OKC as a third scoring option and likely won't meet their expectations so early in his career. Plus, he's really only a 3-and-D player, like a Courtney Lee once was for Orlando.

  • Pros: can shoot better than any current Sun, and can play defense.
  • Cons: is he better than Archie Goodwin, in the long run? Goodwin has a higher potential ceiling (can handle the rock, pass and drive/score at the rim), and neither has done anything on the basketball court yet. So is it worth giving up a lot for a guy who older and maybe no better than Archie Goodwin?
  • Conclusion: At this point, I've cooled on Lamb until we see more of Goodwin.

SF Gordon Hayward

Teammate Derrick Favors just got $49 million over 4 years, and Hayward has done more in the NBA than Favors to this point. Would rebuilding Utah give out two big-money contracts in the same offseason (or next year) before knowing if those guys lead to winning? This may be an OKC situation - where the team decides to keep the big and trade the wing. But then again, who knows what Utah will do.

  • Pros: Actually, it sure seems like a Gordon Hayward would be a perfect fit as a wing shooter and energy guy around drivers Bledsoe/Dragic/Goodwin. Hayward also played for Hornacek and has credited Hornacek for helping him with his shot.
  • Cons: Hayward will never be a #1 option. He's at best a 3rd to 4th best player on a contender and the Suns already have some of those. Would he be worth it?
  • Conclusion: Depending on the cost (likely someone like Goodwin because Utah does not have a high-ceiling shooting guard yet), I would go ahead and make this trade. Goodwin might become the better player, but Hayward is more of a sure thing.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

This year the Phoenix Suns have a lot of options in terms of roster flexibility and there has been a phrase that new head coach Jeff Hornacek has been using this summer. He has the luxury, or burden depending on the individual outlook, of carving out this team in his image with little to no hand-cuffs, even as a first year head coach.

The image he has been painting the verbal picture for the past few months is that of a team that will runs, scores off of energy, and plays the right way overall on both ends of the floor. All things that about 29 other teams want to do.

In order to get there Coach Hornacek is going to, in his words, "tinker around."


Last year the team acquired Marcus Morris, brother of 2011 No. 13 Overall Pick Markieff Morris, in an effort to add more young talent. The potential ripple effects of adding Marcus to the fold was that he would ignite his brother and the Suns would have the opportunity to capture lightning in a bottle. When the two played together in college they were one of if not the best duo in the game playing off one another to dominate games.

It is hard enough to get two brothers to share an XBox remote playing a game let alone get them to share the spotlight of a basketball career. These two are different. They want to play with each other as they have their entire careers to date and Coach Hornacek and the Suns are going to give them that chance again.

The team has questions all over the roster, but the three and the four, the forwards, seem to be the most in the air based on comments by the coaches and the pre-season to date.

So far Markieff, Marcus, P.J. Tucker (last years starting three), Miles Plumlee, and Gerald Green have all started at least one game at one of the two forward positions. There is uncertainty at the forward position as to who starts, who plays, and what the roles will be for each team going into the season. The logical long-term option would be to give the Morrii a chance as the youngest combination, former lottery picks, and as the duo with the most potential as well as experience playing with each other.


During their time at Kansas the duo went 68-6 overall and 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament as starters. They were dynamic for their positions and caused mismatches nightly.

What made the Morrii unique and special was that they did things that other players at their position could not do. Marcus, a combo forward, was capable of handling the ball a little, score in the paint, and rebound the ball from either the three or the four position. He was a classic tweener coming out of college, not big or strong enough to play in the paint for 30 minutes a night, but also not quick or skilled enough to play on the perimeter for those same minutes nightly. That makes for a versatile player, but it also limits the gameplan when he is on the court. In the end he is a small-ball four that will play some at the three in the NBA as seen in Houston and now in Phoenix.

Markieff was the counter-balance. He was another tweener, but from the four and the five which is easier to fit into a gameplan. In his final season with Kansas Markieff was the Big 12's best rebounder by total rebounds (316), per game (8.3), and percentage (19.7) proving to be the leagues best rebounding and defensive big man prospect.

In college they balanced each other out, against non-comparable competition, but nonetheless they each carved out roles.


Marcus was the scorer and Markieff was the rebounder defender that catapulted the duo into the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. Over time Markieff was seen as the better long-term prospect because of his rebounding and defensive potential. He had the size to play the four and lampoon the five at times. That was the idea when he was drafted one spot ahead of his more offensively skilled brother to the Suns and onto a team that was attempting to fill the void of the loss of Amare Stoudemire.

The one common element that made the Morrii a productive duo at Kansas was the threat of the three-point shot. It was something in their back pocket as a pace change, like a change-up in baseball, and made them hard to guard.

In college each brother shot the ball exceptionally well from the field. Marcus (55.5%) and Markieff (55.3%) were efficient from the field and both played inside the three-point line. Back then Markieff was a true post player and popped out for a three (40.4%) from time to time (5.5:1 two-to-three point shot ratio) to keep the defense off balance. His threes were rationed and more meaningful. Since coming to the NBA he has shot 40.4% from the field, same as his three-point percentage in college with a 3.2:1 two-to-three point shot ratio.

The three-point shot has become more of their identifier versus the change-up that kept the defense on their toes.

Shooting is an important element for an NBA team for spacing and overall court balance. Through two seasons in the NBA the Morrii have shot their share of threes (508 combined), but have not produced (34.6% collectively) from behind the arc. Since they were drafted Markieff has logged more minutes and starts shooting 34.1% from three (40.4% from the field) providing little spacing as a "stretch-four."

From the field Marcus (41.0%) and Markieff (40.4%) have become less efficient players overall as well. They provide shooting, but so far not in a positive way.

With Coach Hornacek "tinkering around" with things one element he mentioned was playing the Morrii together. They got very little time together in this system in Training Camp and in the pre-season to date. Last year however they logged 132 minutes together as a three-four duo with a center on the floor with them according to data. Those line-ups had an effective plus/minus of -36 and an overall win record of 5-11 based on the data collected.

There were very effective line-ups last year, but in the time the brothers shared on the court last season they were not as dynamic as they were back in Lawrence.

Shooting aside they just looked uncomfortable on an NBA floor together. To date Markieff has been the more productive NBA player, but throughout their careers playing together Marcus has always been the better half. It was that way in high school and in college.

Coach Hornacek has a full season to see if the Morrii Experiment can work at this level.


Based on the projected starters for every other NBA team and the individual career shooting numbers the Morrii would be the least efficient starting forward duo in the league in terms of field goal percentage. With Marcus at the three and Markieff at the four the Suns would be one of five teams in the entire league with a three shooting under 45% and a four shooting under 50% for their careers.

A basic baseline for shooting at the three is about 45% for an average-to-good shooter and 50% at the four. In fact, if you factor out Wesley Johnson, the Lakers projected starting three, Marcus would have the lowest career field goal percentage entering the season for a starting three and Markieff is the lowest shooting four entering the season. As a rookie Cody Zeller is not factored, but in college he did shoot 59% from the field.

The team can go in numerous directions with the starting three and four, including the Morrii, but there are other combinations that are equal or better in terms of shooting.

A P.J. Tucker (47.4%) and Markieff would be an improvement in overall field goal percentage, but gives them little spacing as Tucker is inconsistent as a shooter from three-point range, especially from the weak-side corner. Re-introducing Channing Frye (44.5%) to the starting line-up with Marcus would be better and with Tucker would be statistically the best combination. The forward positions are up in the air with no player taking the reigns and standing out in the pre-season as a locked in starter.

There is a lot of tinkering that can be done here still. Long-term the Morrii are the youngest players with the most potential as Tucker (28) and Frye (30) are on the back nine of their careers.

If the Morris brothers can learn to share court time as productive and cohesively as their matching tattoos then all this tinkering will be well worth the time.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

If you're reading this and aren't brand new to this forum then you should know that we are under the SB Nation umbrella. Then that umbrella is under the Vox Media cloud. At least I think that's how the hierarchy works. Sometimes it's hard to see way up there from the bottom - especially with that umbrella obstructing my view. Anyway, a partnership has been established with Gameday Depot to handle the apparel between the concatenated sites within the SB Nation network. That means in addition to our inimitable site you can purchase attire specific to any other site.

Now... please don't traduce me for being a shill for the man (even though shamelessly I am).  Obviously, whenever an entity sells something to a consumer someone is turning a profit... rest assured that someone is not me.

But... I really like my t-shirt (I've got the white one in the cover art) to the point that I've just about worn it out over the last year or so.  They gave us staff writers (sorry for being late to the party Sreekar) a freebie for doing (about) a dozen hours of training related to the SB Nation United launch. Yes, we do all kinds of things behind the scenes to make this bad boy hum.  That's almost two dollars an hour considering these financial considerations... (but it's a labor of love)

Standard price is $16.99.  2XL ($1.50) and 3XL ($2.00) are slightly more expensive.

I live in Arizona and my price for a medium is $16.99 for a medium with a $4.95 flat fee for shipping, which is the cheapest option, and no tax.  That brings the total to $21.94.  $22 for a t-shirt isn't that bad.  Of course shipping considerations will vary based on planetary location.

Now the nebulous and somewhat disconcerting area of size discrepancy.  Nothing like ordering a shirt online to find that it doesn't fit.  All shirts sizes are not created equal...

I'm 5'8" and 140 lbs (slender muscular build) and a medium fits me very well. Jacob 6'0" and 165 lbs & Dave 6'0" and slightly heavier (remember when I wrote that I used to guess people's weight at a carnival in a former life?  I lied.) both wear a large that both have told me fit.  Jacob says his is slightly loose, but that's the way he likes it... I would call Dave a medium build.  Kris (also 6'0") is slightly stockier than Dave and comfortably wears an XL.

On a completely useless sidenote, Sean (7'0" and 290 lbs) wears a 4XL that fits ok, but is a little short.  If you're about 6'8" then disregard that completely useless part and ask for a 4XL.


If you want to check it out just go to the more tab on the header and select store as I have illustrated in the above screenshot.

We don't have to stick with the status quo on these, either.  Want one of the older BSotS logos?  We can do that. Want different colors?  We can do that.  Want brand new designs inspired by our creative, technologically savvy members? We can do that.

If you're handy with Illustrator or Photoshop, the best way to get designs up in your store is to send the original art files to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Vectors (Illustrator and the like) are always best, but if you need to use bitmap art (Photoshop and others), it's best if it's at 300 DPI and at least the same size as it will be on the shirt. Most of our designs are between 9" and 10" wide.

If you're not handy with Illustrator or Photoshop, you can use our online design tool, which can be found here: The short version of what to do when you get there is this: Make your design on the color of tee you want, put it in your cart (so we can retrieve it), and then email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to let us know it's there. There are more details on how to use the designer in this short video tutorial:


I know they have this on file on an orange shirt.  I'm sure we can send them other retired logos if we want to go old school.

Thanks for reading my pitch. Now go buy a shirt.

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