Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told Sirius XM NBA Radio that he wants the Suns, more than ever, to focus on defense this season.

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek gave a quick interview to Sirius XM Radio last Friday, and made a couple of comments about the team he's been coaching for two seasons.

"The last two years for us," Hornacek said. "Was about letting these guys develop and figuring out what they can do. We let guys get outside their comfort zone and maybe it was a little individual to see how they can grow as players.

"Our offense guided our defense."

Indeed, until the last month of his second season, Hornacek orchestrated a 10th ranked offense versus a 17th ranked defense in 2015-16. In his first season, he pieced together a 7th ranked offense against a 13th ranked defense. Neither combination was good enough to push the team into the playoffs. Neither team had a go-to offensive player or an All-Star, though Goran Dragic came close to both (20 points per game, 3rd Team All-NBA).

By adding several new role players and balancing the roster, the Suns clearly believe they will be able to create yet another Top-10 offense this season. That's questionable considering the combo of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have not proven they can drive a well-run offense over time, but Hornacek has supreme belief that the players and coaches can devise an effective scheme.

Entering his third year, Hornacek is now thinking more about the other side of the ball. That helps when you've signed the franchise's first ever one-time Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler.

"This year it's going to be reversed," Hornacek told XM Radio. "We know what kind of players you are, and you might have to sacrifice part of what you can do to make this team better and get us to the playoffs."

Young players don't sacrifice unless they see veterans doing it. The Suns believe that the additions of Chandler, Teletovic, Weems and Price will go a long way to showing the kids how to carry themselves as professionals.

Sacrifice, by the way, means putting out effort on the less-fun side of the court.

"And that's gonna start with defense," Hornacek said. "Weak side help, all that stuff we were probably not as good as we should be will really be emphasized."

We've heard this one before. Suns head coaches have said this before every preseason in franchise history. Only Scott Skiles really meant it, I think.

And frankly, if push comes to shove, Hornacek won't pick THAT hill to die on.

But the Suns have not added a center as defensively talented as Tyson Chandler since maybe... geez, I don't know. Clifford Robinson was a brilliant defensive power forward. Jason Kidd a wonderful defender at point guard. Raja Bell was great on the wing, as was Shawn Marion.

Chandler and Len in the middle give the Suns a chance to really have a strong defense this year. And Hornacek doesn't want to waste that opportunity.

No more 'my bad' on most defensive possessions, and then trying to 'make it up' on the other end. The team will be expected to have good habits all game so that the final minutes will be executed well. Rotations will be key to deciding close games and coming out on top more often than not.

The Suns defensive rating the last two years was 13th and 17th, in terms of points per possession. Not bad, but not great. Even better, their defensive rating (points per 100 possessions) in the last 5 minutes of games was a respectable 10th in the league.

But that's where the good news stops. Their defensive rating in the last TWO minutes of games dropped all the way down to 25th.

Think about that. Their defense collapsed in the final two minutes so often that they negated everything they'd done to that point. This is more than buzzer-beater losses. This is failure to corral key rebounds, allowing the opponent to get 2-3 cracks at the key basket in the closing seconds. This is failure to stop the dribble-drive and kick out by not properly rotating to the right man on defense.

Having a former Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler, a perimeter bulldog in P.J. Tucker and an airtight Eric Bledsoe on the court probably does allow the Suns to improve their defense. Adding Alex Len to the second unit can help solidify their rebounding and rim protection as well.

If Hornacek could actually get these guys as a whole to play a Top 10 defense this year, struggling on offense might not be such a killer anyway.

Mark West isn't the type of center that stats, advanced or otherwise, are particularly kind to. And yet... there he was, manning the paint for the Phoenix Suns from 1988 to 1994.

Mark West isn't the type of center that stats, advanced or otherwise, are particularly kind to.  They're not mean to him either.  His career best season averages were 11.8 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, and 2.3  blocks per game. Hardly the kind of numbers that beget a "franchise center" tag, no matter how desperate the franchise in question.

And yet... there he was, manning the paint for the Phoenix Suns from 1988 to 1994.  You may recognize that time frame as one the most celebrated in Suns' history.  He was acquired by Phoenix in the same trade that sent Larry Nance to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kevin Johnson, Tyrone Corbin, and the first round pick that eventually became Dan Majerle.

You're probably far more familiar with the rest of the players that, along with West, formed the nucleus of late 80s/early 90s Phoenix Suns: the aforementioned KJ and Dan Majerle, Jeff Hornacek, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Cedric Ceballos, and Eddie Johnson.  It makes sense.  Those guys are Hall of Famers, Ring of Honor inductees, and dudes whose brand of basketball was a little bit flashier or prone to big nights than Mark West's.

And yet... from 1988 to 1994, he was the only one of those players who played in every single game for the Phoenix Suns.  521 consecutive regular season games.  There's a stat that's very kind to Mr. West.  That kind of durability and consistency is rare in any league, but especially in the 82 game grind that defines the NBA season.  And West displayed that consistency in the Golden Age of the NBA Center.

From 1988-1990, West averaged nearly a double-double despite playing only 25-29 minutes per game as the primary muscle in the Suns run-n-gun lineups around KJ, Horny, Thunder and Tom Chambers.

Here's who West was going up against on a nightly basis: Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Brad Daugherty, David Robinson, Dikembe Mutombo, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Mark Eaton, Kevin Duckworth, Shaquille O'Neal, Vlade Divac and Alonzo Mourning.  Again, you probably know most of those names.   Some of them are Hall of Famers, all of them are All-Stars.

And yet... there's 6'10" Mark West, banging, battling and holding his own with all of them as the stalwart center of one of the winningest franchises of the era.  It was KJ, Majerle, Chambers and Barkley who got the highlights, the All-Star bids and MVPs.  Meanwhile, Mark West got the bruises, the blocks and the boards that made those highlights possible.

I won't try and redefine the term "franchise center" just so I can shoehorn Mark West into it.  Nobody in their right mind builds a team around a player like him.  But I'm very glad the Phoenix Suns had the wisdom to build a couple different teams with him.

We'd love to show you a long highlight reel, but unfortunately highlight reels of Mark West are as real as the gold at the end of a rainbow.

Here's a 17 second dunk mix.

These days, Mark West spends his time representing the Suns in the community and working with bigs on the side. He still looks like he could dunk on someone in a live game, by the way.

After 14 seasons, 857 regular season games and two Slam Dunk titles, former Phoenix Suns guard Jason Richardson will be retiring from professional basketball. Richardson broke the news Wednesday...

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This Week's Show

As the NBA off-season continues, American billionaires and elected officials continue to misbehave.



You can watch us live at, we're deciding a new time, we'll keep you posted.

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Video Show

Show Notes

Paying College Athletes

Our first broken record, how ridiculous is it that paying college athletes is even a question? Luckily we sprinkle in some tangents, though.

We review a Grantland piece about the Pac-12 and paying college athletes.

We bring up the Boston University study on CTE, which has 87 out of 91 brains of former NFL players testing positive for CTE. Patrick does note the selection bias issue, though.

What an exciting way to start my weekend. I probably have CTE.

— Tom Crabtree (@itsCrab) September 18, 2015

The Detroit Lions actually have an 11-5 and 10-6 record in recent history.

Publicly Funded Stadiums

Lindsay Gibbs has a great piece on why the Washington Mystics new arena is not a good thing. Dave Berri is quoted in the article as well.

In general, publicly funded stadiums are a bad idea. It's just giving money to rich people. That said, it's even worse when the new stadium is too small.

Stadiums and arenas aren't fantastic venues for things like concerts as it's hard to schedule. Some examples we bring up are:

Kevin Johnson is a supervillain

Speaking of using public funding for sports teams, we talk Kevin Johnson. Bad news, he's even worse than that! We talk a long Deadspin post on the many sketchy things Kevin Johnson does.

Jerry West and Analytics

We talk the absurd soundbytes Jerry West gave about analytics.

Shout Outs

Patrick shouts out new Black Panther author Ta-Nehisi Coates(@tanehisicoates) and Marvel.

Brian shouts out Mark Sandritter for pointing out that Sony and the new concussion movie will likely not go hard after the NFL.

I shout out John Floyd for admitting he watched the Mighty Ducks animated show.

Grant Hill retired last year. Steve Nash retired this summer. And now Jason Richardson joins them as members of the 2010 Western Conference Finalists who are now eligible for retiree benefits and the Hall of Fame.

Today is a bitter sweet moment for me. I'm officially announcing my retirement from pro basketball. I…

— Jason Richardson (@jrich23) September 24, 2015

J-Rich might not make the Hall of Fame, but then again who knows the criteria for the Basketball Hall of Fame anyway?

It's best just to remember J-Rich for his best times as a Phoenix Sun.

It was J-Rich's scoring in the 2010 playoffs that helped the Suns overcome not only the Portland Trail Blazers but also the San Antonio Spurs.

I'd show some highlights of the Conference Finals, but... ahh... never mind.

Let's remember the best of times!

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