PHOENIX — There were many victims of the NBA lockout, but so far as the players are concerned nobody was hurt more than the rookies.
Not only did they have nothing to fall back on financially aside from advances from their agents — as opposed to established vets who had been saving up for this for years — they also missed out on a summer of getting acclimated to an NBA environment before this cram job of a training camp.
As opposed to a player like Jared Dudley, who head coach Alvin Gentry lauded for being a “a little bit ahead” thanks to his high level summer workouts in Vegas and San Diego against other pros, Suns rookie Markieff Morris is getting his first taste of NBA-caliber play this week at training camp with no Summer League or informal workouts during the offseason.
“I think in general, especially the way our league is structured, even if you’re a big guy like Markieff you’re just not used to playing against guys your size that are quicker than you and stronger than you night in and night out, and that’s something that he’ll get accustomed to and adjusted to and be fine I think,” Gentry said.
Although Morris swished a pair of foul shots after running drills with teammates hooting things like “rook” and “Allen Fieldhouse,” Gentry said Morris often left the ball short later in practice after starting out shooting well.
“I think it’s just a matter of him getting his legs under him and being able to do it for an extended period of time, and that will all come as he gets in basketball shape,” Gentry said.
The same could likely be said for Morris in general, as the Cam Newtons of the world aside, the lockout should extend the learning curve for all first-year players this season.
I asked Gentry who has stood out thus far in training camp, and he answered Sebastian Telfair, saying the point guard’s energy has been good for the team.
With Zabian Dowdell still sidelined, he is in line to start the season as Nash’s backup.
- Gentry really likes the effort of the team so far, which he said is important because “the other things are very correctable. It’s just impossible to really try to coach energy and effort, so we’ve got that right there. It’s a good foundation and a good start.”
- Josh Childress on how training camp is different this year: “Now it’s just that feeling that it’s condensed and you kind of have to pack everything in at once. You’re going through tons of coverages in one practice as opposed to spreading them out like normally would. You just have to really put your thinking cap on and pay attention.
- Join Schmitz, Lynch and myself for a Daily Dime Live chat on the Suns on Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m MST.