It's still preseason, so you will see some guys play their last significant minutes (barring injuries) and you'll see compressed minutes on the part of the Phoenix Suns starters.

But as of next week, the rotation is ready to go. To no one's surprise, Alvin Gentry's starting five and even the set of backups behind them have emerged from training camp and preseason the same way they entered it.

Goran Dragic will be the starter at point guard. He's been alternately passive and aggressive in preseason, but his per-minute numbers have been excellent. His backup will be Sebastian Telfair, who provides great on-ball defense and a steady influence on the second unit.

Shooting guard was projected to be a battle, but only by those whose job it is to create competition. There was very little that Shannon Brown could do this fall to knock Jared Dudley off the starting perch. But that doesn't mean Shannon Brown will lose anything more than a call-out in pregame introductions.

"Shannon has played great," Gentry said. "I think JD just has been real consistent in what he has done. To be honest, Shannon has been hurt (left-ankle sprain) and missed a few games here and there. I think both of those guys realize that they're going to play. Just like anything else, there are going to be nights where JD gets the majority of the minutes and there are going to be nights when Shannon gets the majority of the minutes."

At small forward, Michael Beasley will get the nod to start. He's been a model citizen this preseason and is arguably the Suns' most talented player, though his effort has been inconsistent throughout preseason. At least he knows it.

"It's my fault," he said in reference to a stretch in Monday's preseason game where he made several iffy plays in a row. "I've got to stay aggressive throughout the whole game. As opposed to maybe 3 or 4 minutes where I'm not in the groove, so to speak. That's my fault. It's something I need to work on to be consistent."

Backing up Beasley will be some combination of Wesley Johnson and P.J. Tucker. Johnson provides the ability to make jump shots off open looks, which will be available aplenty in this offense. Tucker provides grit and effort, but little in the way of outside shooting.

"All the coaches would tell you and the players would tell you that P.J. is our best perimeter defender," Gentry said.

Unfortunately, neither player provides enough range of skills at this point to earn the job outright.

At power forward, Luis Scola will start the game and Markieff Morris will be his backup. The minutes distribuion among them will be determined by matchups (Scola vs. bigger or quicker forwards) and foul trouble (Morris). Scola is a scrapper who garners more "doesn't he always kill us when we play him?" comments from opposing broadcasters than I've heard in a long time.

Morris is multi-talented with a versatile offensive game and strong rebounding skills. He might just be the Suns' "Sixth Man" with his array stat stuffing skills - points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. But he doesn't finish his shots consistently, and gets called for too many fouls to plan 30+ minutes in any game. He collected 11 fouls in the last two games, covering only the equivalent of 4 full quarters of action.

At center, we've got Marcin Gortat at starting center, who could have earned some All-Star votes if not for a rule change that stops forcing teams to name 2 centers to the team each year. Gortat rebounds and blocks shots and provide good pick-and-roll defense. And he can score in the right situations, with a deft touch around the rim.

Jermaine O'Neal has great skills, and will likely provide the most consistent backup C minutes the Suns have seen in a long time. He can defend, rebound and block shots. Just on Monday, he blocked two shots and secured a rebound all on the same possession. He can hit open jumpers as well. O'Neal's problem is health. He's an old 34 with a history of knee problems. Expecting 15 minutes a night for him is doable. More than that? You're rolling the dice.

Overall, this team has a lot of similarly talented players who could swap minutes throughout the season, depending on who provides the most consistency. Coaches need to know what they're going to get, which is why guys like Dudley, Gortat and Scola are a coach's dream.

"We'll be a good team when guys continue to push each other," Gentry said. "But we'll also be a good team when that's not a factor to who's not playing if somebody is doing a better job than the other guy."

Free Throws

No indication yet who the Suns will keep beyond the top 11 guys mentioned above, plus Kendall Marshall (he of the two-year guaranteed contract).

As Jacob noted, Luke Zeller probably played himself off the team lately by missing too many shots. The uneducated guess here is that the Suns will keep Solomon Jones because he's a known quantity and can play C, where the Suns have more injury concerns than at power forward.

It will come down to whether the Suns want guys to stay with the team all year (then Jones wins, and maybe Diogu too) or guys who can shuttle back and forth to the D-league for further seasoning (Diante Garrett, Luke Zeller). We should find out soon enough.


Here's the place to dump all your off-topics ideas, rants, suggestions or wishes.

The Phoenix Suns fell to 3-3 on the preseason campaign with a 107-92 road loss to a Golden State Warriors team that shot lights out.

After a sluggish start to the preseason, Marcin Gortat finally found his groove Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors. The Suns’ starting center played 26 minutes and did not miss a shot,...

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The Suns' starters played more than a lot of us expected, but it didn't matter as the Warriors' hot shooting was too much for Phoenix to keep pace with.

The Warriors made seemingly every open jump shot they took and finished shooting 57 percent from the field, including 50 percent from behind the arc. On the other end, the Suns only shot 46 percent and 32 percent from deep. But the biggest disparity came at the line, where the Warriors shot twice as many free throws than the Suns (28 to 14) and converted 10 more (17 to 7).

The Warriors were led by a combined 32 points and 12 rebounds from David Lee and rookie Harrison Barnes. Jarrett Jack pitched in 13 points and a game-high nine assists, while Carl Landry and Klay Thompson scored 13 and 12 respectively.

For the Suns, Marcin Gortat finished the game perfect from the field and free-throw line en route to a 19 and 10 double-double, by far his best performance of the preseason so far. Luis Scola added 16 points, three assists and two rebounds, while Markieff Morris came off the bench to score 15 points on 6-11 shooting and also hauled in seven rebounds. Goran Dragic was fairly passive yet again and finished with 8 points and six assists.

For the second straight game, the Suns started slow and the Warriors jumped out to a 9-2 lead early. But the Suns starters got it together and fought their way back on the backs of the starting frontcourt of Scola and Gortat, ultimately finishing the first quarter with a 28-25 lead.

However, the bench struggled mightily to get anything going in the second quarter. The Warrriors took control with a 30-18 scoring edge in the period and never looked back. The Suns actually won the third quarter, but only cut the deficit by one before the Warriors reasserted control in the fourth period. The Suns just couldn't get any stops.

The Suns had a slight edge in rebounds, points in the paint and turnovers, but the free-throw disparity coupled with the poor defense by the Suns was the difference in the game.

Quick hits:

  • Luke Zeller was the only one of the three bigs hoping to make the roster to make an appearance tonight, and if he hadn't already played himself off the team he probably did in this game; 0-3 with one rebound and one foul in a full quarter's worth of action.
  • Diante Garrett got in the game as well, although he played much better. Garrett recorded two points and two assists in less than five minutes of playing time alongside Kendall Marshall. I continue to hope the Suns find a way to keep him in the organization.
  • Beasley, Brown, Johnson and O'Neal combined to go 6-26 with a whole lot of bad shots. Not good.

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