Even more than new Suns center Tyson Chandler's productivity in the pivot, the Suns locker room needs a leader that the rest of the team will heed.

Luis Scola watched the Suns' Titanic hit the iceberg in 2012-13, while Channing Frye helped guide the Goodship Lollipop into a playoff run in 2013-14.

Which impact with Chandler's most closely resemble in 2015-16?

"This year we added five or six veteran guys," said Hornacek. "We got veteran guys who can balance what's going on out there with the young guys."

This offseason, without making the playing rotation demonstrably older, the Suns replaced last year's veterans with new veterans. Now Tyson Chandler (33), Mirza Teletovic (30) and Sonny Weems (29), along with P.J. Tucker (30), are expected to be the rotation players that bring professionalism and maturity to the young rotation of Eric Bledsoe (26), Markieff Morris (26), Brandon Knight (23), T.J. Warren (22), Alex Len (22), Archie Goodwin (21) and Devin Booker (18).

Teletovic and Weems (and Ronnie Price/30) most likely won't start many games this year and aren't even guaranteed regular rotation spots, reducing their chance to get other players to take their lead.

"Let's face it," Hornacek said to Bright Side this summer. "You can't have a 10th or 11th man be your leader. It's gotta be your main guys."

P.J. Tucker already proved last year he's the team's hustle leader but he's not a locker room leader.

So that leaves Tyson Chandler to do the heavy lifting. For his part, he's saying the right things about how to win.

"The thing about winning, it's a full time job. It's not just about game days," Chandler said at his intro presser in July. "The preparation has to start every day in practice. We have to be locked in, we have to be serious, really paying attention to details. And it's just kind of getting that focus around the locker room. Making sure everybody's engaged, everybody's locked in."

"It's never going to be one player that's gonna make a team win. It's gonna take the entire team."

Chandler goes on to say he won't always be politically correct.

"As athletes, a lot of times," he said, "you get in a situation where you hear what you want to hear and never what you need to hear. The older you get in your career and you're able to be around great vets like Jason Kidd, Dirk (Nowitzki), and in my younger days Antonio Davis and Charles Oakley would definitely tell you exactly how it is."

"Guys know that I'm going to be honest with them and with myself," he said. "If you want to be a winning team, a winning organization, you have to build that culture."

The concern is whether guys will listen.

Will his impact rival Luis Scola's?

Luis Scola was the consummate professional in his 2012-13 season with the Suns. He came to work every day, led the team in hustle points and generally made the most of his skillset. When Markieff Morris was impersonating a future D-Leaguer, Scola was holding down the fort at power forward.

But he just couldn't get anyone in the locker room to heed his advice. By the end of the year, he was shrugging his shoulders while the Titanic was hitting the bottom of the ocean.

Here's Scola in early November - the first week of the season.

"There's only one way to win games and that's playing focused for forty-eight minutes and play hard and hustle and do all the little things," he said after just the second game of the season, a good win against a bad Detroit team.

"It's not going to be pretty a lot of times," he warned. "But that's just the way it has to be."

And here he is in December of that year.

"I don't know. We don't have a day off anymore," he said about Monday's off day after the back-to-back. "We need to practice. It's not going to happen by talking. I think a lot about it, I just don't know."

After we left him alone, he just sat there in his shorts at least ten more minutes. He didn't go take a shower or talk to any other players. He just sat there, staring at the floor.

And finally, in April.

"We just don't know how to play well," Scola told Craig Grialou in April of that season. "We don't know how to play basketball and that's why we lose. Until we learn how to play 48 minutes of basketball, we're not going to win games. I'm surprised we won (23) games playing this way. Many of the games we won, we did the same thing. We just overcame it somehow. I'm also surprised we didn't fix it. We saw the problem pretty much the first week and we couldn't fix it. It's very frustrating. It's a bad year."

Or will Chandler have the impact of Channing Frye?

Frye didn't spend much time talking to reporters in 2012-13, but he was regularly credited with being the sage, calming influence during the 2013-14 season. He had the benefit of playing for a team with nothing to lose, so he didn't have to teach anyone how to handle expectations.

"Two years ago, Channing Frye was kinda that guy," coach Hornacek mentioned on XM Radio last week.

The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns were youngish, but mostly inexperienced. Their locker room had a bunch of guys all around the same age (23-27), with Channing Frye the veteran in the rotation at the ripe age of 30. But more telling was the lack of NBA experience. Before adding Leandro Barbosa in January off the street, the only guy with more than 4 recent years of NBA experience was Frye. We continually covered the fact that the Suns were one of the least experienced teams in the entire league, and far behind the other playoff contenders.

Yet Frye's maturity coupled with the team's general lack of expectations helped keep the temperature steady in the locker room all season. Hornacek never said Frye was a firey leader. He just appreciated Frye's ability to bring calmness and professionalism to work every day and keep the Suns on a positive outlook.

"Last year we had really just a young group of guys," Hornacek continued. "We didn't have that veteran leader who'd tell them hey knock it off, or we need to do this or we need to do that."

Sure Frye left over the summer of 2013, but the Suns still began the 2014-15 season with three veterans in the rotation: Gerald Green (28), Goran Dragic (28) and P.J. Tucker (29) and a several other 3-4 year veterans in the Morrii, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas. These guys knew how to play basketball. But unfortunately, none of them really kept the locker room on an even keel all year and none of them required the others to raise their game.


Will Tyson Chandler's tough love fall on deaf ears? Or will he provide ballast to a flagging locker room?

What kind of influence will Tyson Chandler have on the Suns locker room?

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With the news that Jason Richardson would be retiring, which he announced Wednesday on Instagram, most of the NBA community paid its respect to the early departure of one of the greatest dunkers the...

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Former Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris says he should have started at the three, ahead of P.J. Tucker.

Marcus Morris has more words about the Phoenix Suns, and no words for the name of his former teammate, P.J. Tucker.

"In Phoenix, I thought I should have started at the three," Marcus said to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. "The guy that's there now might have been a better defender, but as an all-around three, I thought I was the best we had. And I thought a lot of players thought that, too."

Neither player is an All-Star. Let's just get that out of the way. But by all accounts they were friendly as teammates for nearly three years.

Now Marcus is throwing shade, and dragging others from the locker room into it? Nice work, Marcus.

In that time, "the guy that's there now" started all but 18 games last year and 104 of a possible 105 games before that after Marcus joined the Suns. P.J. Tucker was suspended for the first two games of last season (DUI), but re-took his starting role by the end of the first month of the season.

It's a shame Marcus can't just move on without throwing more people at the bus wheels.

"I'm in Detroit. I'm here. I don't even think about that stuff anymore. I'm here."

--Marcus on being excited to be in Detroit now (in the same interview he talked about how he should have been the starter for the Suns and was underutilized always being on the three point line)

In Detroit, he's saying he will bring some Rasheed Wallace qualities, and has been making friends with his new teammates.

"I've been telling the players, ‘I'm not going to show you everything I've got right now. You'll sit on all my moves.'"

--Marcus on endearing himself to teammates

"When I left college, I never shot threes. I played for Houston my first year and I didn't play and they told me I had to become a 3-point shooter. All summer, I just worked on shooting, shooting, shooting. Working on it so much that it's now a major part and you need that mix. That's the mix I needed, to extend the floor, and now playing with Detroit I think I'll be able to get a better chance to show my all-around game."

--Am I the only one who thinks Marcus is saying 'I get to be a midrange guy again!' ?

Good luck, Marcus. Hope your game backs up your swag.

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.

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