I’ve written about hoping to develop a forum in which smart basketball talk takes place, but before venturing over to the forum I would recommend purchasing the 2010-11 edition of Basketball...

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Nice beard, man. You too.

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Nice beard, man. You too.

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Not all that much new from Suns practice today. They practiced. Then they were done practicing and some of them stayed and took more shots (like Hedo, Robin and Goran) and others (Steve Nash and Alvin Gentry) answered silly questions.

That's the rhythm of things.

  • Nash still says they have a lot of work to do but that they aren't far away and hopefully can get ready in next 8 or 9 days and if not he hopes they can play their butts off and get better as the season goes on. 
  • That's pretty much Steve's standard answer right now. I've heard it at least five times. It must get old for him. That's followed by answer number 2...
  • It comes down to offensive and defensive cohesion which is about incorporating the new guys.
  • The Suns are horrible from three point line but Nash and Gentry think they are getting good looks and just missing them. That's a lot about getting into game shape. Neither are worried about it, nor am I. This team has too many good shooters to be this bad. Suns are hitting on 25.4% of their three's in the preseason. No WAY that carries over.
  • Nash again says the 2nd unit will have to be really good this year but they need time...cohesion...new players...understand each other...
  • Looking forward to next two games playing with the regular rotations...still have a lot of work to do
  • I asked Nash aboot the "polite" reception Canada gave Hedo. He said, "I was surprised. Toronto is supposed to be the big bad city but all my homies back in Vancouver were the ones who really gave him a shit-kicking. I don't know what's going on if they're getting soft in Toronto or what."
  • Asked about the small crowd in Toronto, Nash cited "preseason apathy" 
  • BOOM, sucka!
  • Oh, sorry. I don't want to offend any Canadians. We still love you and Nash also mentioned the blocked streets downtown and how hard it must have been to get to the game on a Sunday morning.
  • Gentry is setting the exception bar to "low", reminding us it's a "long, long season" and that even last year when they started 14-3 he still wasn't sure how good the team was. So, I think patience and the long-view probably applies to the 1-5 preseason record as well. Or not, they've been pretty horrible so far. You're call whether you think it matters.
  • Coach says he's focused on trying to get better each day with defensive rotations and rebounding and if they do that perhaps the Suns will be very good. Eventually. 
  • Gentry said he's going to play "those guys" about 30 minutes in these next two preseason games. I think he means Nash, Hill, J-Rich, and Hedo.
  • Gentry's not sure if this year's second unit will be as good as last year's but hopes they will be. He thinks last year they won 10 or 12 games for the team. They need to develop the bench this year so they "play with the confidence that group had." He called them "the most important second unit in the league" -- talking about last year's bench.
  • Asked about Channing Frye's poor shooting in the preseason, Gentry joked, "I'm not sure if he thinks it's the playoffs or what." But then went on to say that at the end of the day he'll hit 150 or so three's. Again, no worries. Are you worried?
Linkage:

Poor Louis

Warriors' Amundson Needs Surgery on Finger
Amundson suffered a fracture in his right index finger during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers – and the injury will require surgery. 

Amare back to playing center for D'Antoni. That can only end one way...

The Works: Amar'e at Center (Again); Can the Blazers and Jazz Contend? -- NBA FanHouse
Stoudemire survived at center in Phoenix because of Marion. The Matrix rebounded as well as Amar'e (despite the size difference); instead of a center-power forward tandem, the Suns essentially played two power forwards. That left some deficit on defense and the glass, but the otherworldly offense, led by Nash and Stoudemire outweighed the bad year after year.

Toronto really really hates Turkoglu. I think they just have too many newspapers up there and not enough other things to worry about.

  • Raptors defeat Suns in the return of Turkoglu | The Toronto Observer Turkoglu was certainly booed any time his name was announced or when he touched the ball, but the former Raptor — who demanded a trade in the off-season and made some negative comments about the city and franchise — didn’t hear much from the crowd simply because he hardly played.
  • No love for Turkoglu in T.O. - The Globe and Mail Turkoglu's body language and complaints about his use were one of the subtexts to the demoralizing 2009-10 season. He bobbed and weaved around issues after the game Sunday, saying he never bad-mouthed Toronto, holding back criticism of head coach Jay Triano or general manager Bryan Colangelo.
  • Turkoglu shrugs off Toronto's cold reception "Turk always has his sense of humour going," Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack said. "I’m sure he’s not going to let it grasp on to him too much. He’s just going to shrug it off, smile a little bit and just go about his business." "I didn’t get much love when I was here, too," Turkoglu mused. "So it’s normal when I’m not here, I’ll get the boos."
  • Turkoglu boos himself | Basketball | Sports | Toronto Sun As it was for most of last season, Turkoglu appears to be out of shape and was sucking wind quite frequently during Sunday’s game, particularly when he hustled back to play defence. It will be interesting to see how long before the fans in Phoenix, and his teammates, turn on him. At one point during the first half, as Turkoglu waited to return to the court, a member of the Raptors stats crew asked him how he was doing. "Better now," he said, tugging at his Suns jersey.
  • Feschuk: Fans rip 'Turkaboo,' Turkoglu rips Raptors - thestar.com "People have to realize it’s not always the players," said Turkoglu. "People just got to see what’s really going on and make a judgment after that. I’m not a random guy. Chris (Bosh) was an all-star. Other guys, all-stars, too. You have to ask them what was the reason that they left. Then people will realize . . . instead of just going after the players. (Vince) Carter, Tracy (McGrady), whatever. I know (Bosh), I hope he doesn’t get booed. He gave a lot of good stuff for this organization. I think he deserves to be welcomed in a nice way."
  • Tip-In: In Rhythm, Raptors Beat the Suns 121-100 - Raptors HQ In two pre-season games, the Raptors showed that they may have found a fairly good team that they may be able to beat pretty consistently.  Our Dinos managed to push around the Suns after they got into a rhythm, and despite having trouble for most of the first half, the Raptors managed to take control in the third and never let go.

Robin is important...in case you weren't sure about that yet

Robin Lopez to make or break the 2010-11 Phoenix Suns | Valley of the Suns With the season right around the corner and zero help up front, Suns fans will find out real soon whether or not Lopez can be that "premier" center he’s expected to be, not only on the offensive end, but defensively and on the glass.

 


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is PanamaSun reporting back for blogger duties here at Bright side of the Sun.

I'd like to apologize for not posting much in a while. I've been really busy working and getting in shape to play at a very important corporate league. But the regular season is right around the corner and here at - your favorite Suns' blog- we eat our vegetables and take our traditions very seriously. Like every year we do our Season Preview Series to get you pumped up (or depressed) for the new season and as always... some things never change:

1) Suns making off-season moves that make us really nervous - check

2) The media reporting that Suns championship window is completely shut, they will never make the playoffs, Steve Nash better retires and becomes an actor - check

3) Suns pre-season sucking so much we want to puke, almost validating media reports mentioned above - check

4) Mike Lisboa making his yearly come back after claiming he was done blogging - check (we are like heroin, Mike, you can't quit on us that easily)

So, Suns basketball is here! Buckle up and let's take a look at our Point Guards and Wing players. With Amar'e in the big apple, these are the Suns players that will make you jump from your seat.

More after the jump.

Point Guards

Steve Nash

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What more is left to say about this man. He's the Suns' engine. The face of the franchise. Nash will be one year older but is there any legitimate reason to be concerned? The guy seems to have found the fountain of youth in Phoenix and he's not showing signs of slowing down.

Sometimes it's hard for us to realize how difficult is to play at a high tempo, every night. Nash makes it look easy. Split second decisions, behind the back passes, impossible bounce passes, three point shots in transition, awkward lay ups and leadership that irradiates from his pores. We have become so used to his great play that we take him for granted.

In his 14th season, Nash played even better than in his two MVP years.  He led the league with 11 assists per game, having the best statistical season for a PG over 35 years old. He once gain shot over 50% from the floor, 40% from behind the arc and over 90% from the line.

Now Steve faces another challenge this season. He will have new team mates to incorporate and even maybe play off the ball from time to time. We often talk about how Nash makes everyone better, but sometimes we overlook how hard is to incorporate these new pieces and adjust your game so they can excel in theirs.

As a PG your job is to understand your team mates' strengths and weaknesses so you can give them the ball in a position where they can succeed. It takes time and intelligence to master this art and we know Nash is smart but does he have enough time to make this team a threat in the West this year? He's certainly done it before but it's no easy task.

It's hard for me to imagine someone else as the starting PG for the Suns. It constantly happens with franchise players. As fans we become so spoiled and used to them that we don't realize that they will age. As a Yankee fan (please don't hate me for this) I've asked myself if this will be the year when Mariano Rivera stops closing games or that his cutter will stop breaking bats and making hitters look stupid. That day has not come yet and it seems very far away so I just sit back and enjoy. I plan on doing the same with Nash.

Goran Dragic

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I've never felt like this for an NBA player. It's hard to describe. It's almost like when you go and root for your kid at a soccer game. You want him to do well, you want him to score but even if he doesn't he still makes you proud. If he has a bad game I always try to find a bright spot.

Goran made a name for himself last season. He stopped being the scared back up PG and actually became a legitimate threat against any team. Opposing coaches were forced to pay attention to him and, just like Nash; the best defenders were assigned to guard him.

He has learned to pass the ball in traffic. He's a good defender and his long arms seem to bother other team's ball handlers. He can shoot the three and drive to the basket. He can push the ball and play at a frenetic pace. We no longer have to worry when Nash goes to the bench; in fact, there were times that we wanted Dragic to stay on the floor. Please take a second to read that last sentence again.

It's amazing what confidence does in any professional sport but specifically basketball. Once the nerves are gone you can just play freely and enjoy the game. This is what happened to Dragic last season. Alvin Gentry made it clear that he didn't care how many mistakes Goran made, he was still going to get the ball and he still needed to be aggressive.

Goran is a fun player to watch. He won a lot of fans last season but he can no longer be the "surprise" in games. Coaches are aware of his ability to drive and kick, shoot the three and play off the ball. He will have to be ready for the challenge and I will certainly be there rooting for him.

Small Forwards

Grant Hill

Grant_medium

Grant is like the feel good story of the NBA. You all know about his injuries, all the years he lost and how he was considered to be the next coming of Michael Jordan. Ever since he got to the valley he has given everything he's got on the court. He's one of the leaders of the team and everyone looks up to him.

Many of us have wondered if it's time for him to come off the bench and give a guy like Dudley a chance to start. That's not going to happen if Grant is able to continue to run the floor, get rebounds and guard the other team's best scorer.

I've heard comments like "You know the Suns suck defending when their best defender is a 38 year old guy" "You got Hill covering Kobe?" Obviously, these are people that have not watched the Suns play.

Hill averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 48-percent shooting from the floor in 2009-10. He was the team's second-leading rebounder and recorded a career-high 44 percent shooting from behind the arc this past season.

It'll be interesting to see if at 38 years old he can continue to contribute. He did have problems with back to back games so I expect that carry over to this season.

If he shows signs of slowing down, do you think Gentry will give a chance to a guy like Dudley to start? We'll have to wait and see.

Josh Childress

There's always a guy that seems to do everything on a team. This guy does the dirty work, rebounds the ball, gets some steals, makes big shots and hustles up and down the court. The ball seems to find him and he takes advantage of that. I'm hoping Childress becomes that type of player for the Suns.

Childress can play several positions, he's versatile player who's also a good defender. He has averaged double digits in scoring on all of his 4 seasons in the NBA. You can expect that to continue this year with Nash at the point.

During the 2009-10 campaign, Childress averaged a team-leading 15.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in Greek League action and 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in Euroleague play. During his four seasons in the NBA, the former Second Team All-Rookie selection averaged 11.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one steal a game.

Amar'e had the goggles but Josh is bringing the Fro back. I'm looking forward to watching him play.

Shooting Guards

Jared Dudley

Dudleydunk2_medium

This guy makes me feel like anyone can play in the NBA and I mean it in a good way. The NBA equivalent of the girl next door, Jared Dudley is a walking cliché. Work hard, exploit your strengths and you will succeed.

In one of the most underrated moves in the history of the NBA. Jared Dudley came from the Bobcats and most of thought he was just an additional piece thrown in to complete the Richardson deal. Most of us were wrong.

There's no doubt that Dudley is talented. He worked hard on his three point shot last offseason and it really paid off. The recipient of the 2009-10 Majerle Hustle Award averaged a career-high 8.2 points, 1.4 assists, 24.3 minutes and 45.2 percent shooting behind the arc. He can be an annoying defender, Vujacic-like, he can get under other players skin really quickly.

I'm predicting that Dudley will get more minutes this year. Gentry will do his best to give Grant a lot of rest to keep him fresh for the long season so Dudley will have to step up again. He has proven that he can handle the pressure and came up big last season in several key spots in the playoffs.

Dudley worked hard this offseason and showed up 15 pounds lighter. This will help him when guarding quicker guards. It shows his commitment to get better to help the team. Now that Amar'e is gone, everyone will have to take their game to the next level.

I expect him to have a strong season.

Jason Richardson

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I left the X-factor for last because I feel he's the key to the Suns success this season. With Amar'e gone he will be the number one option on the offensive end. This is a role that he's used to play. Richardson's impact will be a hot topic this year as it was last year since the Suns are 40-9 all time when J-Rich scores more than 20 points.

My only concern with J-Rich is his shot selection. With Stat gone, I'm sure he knows he will need to carry the scoring load. I saw him take some bad shots last season, rush them or force them which is concerning if he's going to be our number one option. Gentry's plan has always been clear. He loves to get Richardson involved early looking for him in the post but I think he really gets on a roll when his first couple of baskets are in transition.

One of the things I loved about J-Rich last season was how he rebounded the ball. His 5.0 rebounds a game average from last season was the first time a Suns guard has rebounded more than 5.0 rebounds since Joe Johnson did so in 2004-05. We will need more of that since we are clearly undersized.

Final Thoughts

As I said, with Amar'e gone, everyone will need to get better and step up their game. Regardless of what happens I'm sure we are up for a fun ride. We know for a fact that all of the players will work hard and I'm sure they will surprise a lot of people in the West.

Stay tune for the next chapter of our Season Preview Series when watdogg10 takes on the Suns Bigs. Literally.


As promised last week, today is launch day for the brand new Phoenix Suns forum on ValleyoftheSuns.com, which you can find in our navigation bar at the top of the site or by bookmarking the...

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This only matters on October 28.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

More photos » Rick Scuteri - AP

This only matters on October 28. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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I know, I know, it's frustrating.

We want to see the Suns winning games. We are frustrated by our inability to watch, to form our own opinions from seeing the guys on the court. All we get are gamecasts and boxscores and occcassional online feeds featuring opponents' announcers.

So when someone who's seen the game says "don't worry about it", we are unable to simply accept that as golden. We can't take our eyes off the rebounding deficit, the point differentials, the turnovers and the 1-5 record.

But all in all, here's what we have actually learned this preseason: A lineup including 3 or more of Lawal, Clark, Janning, Siler, Jones, Atkins and Dowdell will lose a LOT of games.

Fortunately, Alvin won't be playing that lineup starting next week. In fact, we may never see it again with the exception of the occassional blowout.

So why did Alvin Gentry spend so much time playing those guys?

I have some guesses...

These guesses are with no particular knowledge or inside information. They are just based on logic of the hindsight variety. Given that Gentry has repeatedly filled the second-half lineups with scrubs who've lost leads by the barrelful, there has to be a reason right?

Here's my top 10 reasons we have seen what we've seen:

  1. Fewer minutes = less wear and tear. Hill is 38, Nash 36, Turkoglu 31 and Richardson 30. Lopez is young, but injury-prone.
  2. The games don't matter.
  3. Dudley and the starters (including Turkoglu) are known quantities. Alvin has watched the starters earn leads whenever they've played together. He knows what he has with them.
  4. 5 out of 6 games have been on the road. When you really, really don't care about the end result, it's easier to play your deep scrubs when the game is on the road. No one in the building cares.
  5. The games don't matter.
  6. Two of the six games have been against Utah, the Suns' opponent in Game 2 of the regular season. Just like in the NFL, you don't give your opponent anything to chew on if you can avoid it and the Jazz have seen very little of the Suns team they will play on Oct 28 when it counts.
  7. Two of the six games have been in Canada. Games with fans less interested in basketball than they are in cheering/booing particular players.
  8. The games don't matter.
  9. In case of mass injuries, would ANY of the deep scrubs step up as leaders on that third unit? Would any surpass expectations? Unfortunately, that's a no. Most disappointing is Earl Clark.
  10. The games don't matter.

Of course, we've seen some worrying trends.

Rebounding deficits and 110 points-allowed fly in the face of kool-aid drinkers who have convinced themselves the Suns will survive in those areas.

But don't use the preseason as a barometer for the upcoming regular season. Those are two different animals. Regular season matters. Preseason doesn't.

The Suns team you see next week will not resemble the one you've seen so far. Sure, the warning signs are there.

But the biggest thing we have to worry about is if Gentry will play Janning, Clark, Lawal and Siler/Jones together in a tie game in the third quarter. My hunch is no.


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