It would be ridiculous to draw many conclusions from two measly games of Summer League.
That being said, Kendall Marshall is not exactly dominating the way a lottery pick should.
Marshall followed up last night’s scoreless, five-turnover effort against Cleveland by clanking nine of 10 shots to score three points while dishing five assists once again. On the bright side, Marshall cut his turnovers down to two but the Suns were outscored by 23 points in his 30:48 of court time in this 78-61 loss to the Austin Rivers-less Hornets.
Marshall made a couple nice passes to find shooters and cutters alike, but that lack of scoring ability once again has got to be disconcerting. The Suns did not draft him to score but if he can’t put up any points in Summer League one has to wonder if his offense will be effective enough in the pros to prevent opponents from crowding the passing lanes.
You may remember that some teams would actually dare the great Steve Nash to score just because the Suns were always better when he was getting everybody involved than when he scored 30. Obviously it would be insane to compare Marshall to Nash offensively in the least bit, but Marshall must become at least a threat to put the ball in the basket.
Of course, he’s playing with Markieff Morris and a bunch of guys who are not NBA players, so surely Marshall will improve along with the talent of his teammates.
“I felt like I was at my best in college when I had a lot of scorers around me,” Marshall said at his introductory press conference. “The guys I had, I was blessed with around me made me look good in that aspect.”
Marshall isn’t exactly playing with Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson on the Summer Suns, yet 1-for-10 is pretty ugly any way you slice it.
Morris hit a few tough shots on his way to a 13-point, six-board, two-block outing. Keef missed four of his five treys and nine of 13 shots total but overall looked the part of a player who doesn’t belong in Summer League anymore before hurting his right knee in the fourth, an injury Dan Majerle did not sound concerned about.
“He stands out amongst these guys here,” said Suns owner Robert Sarver on the NBA TV telecast. “He’s going to be very good.”
It would be nice to see Morris dominate opponents in one-on-one situations more, which he did not really do tonight, but that’s not the player he is in the NBA really. He can hit spot-up jumpers and make the occasional post move, but he’s not exactly comfortable being the go-to guy that he is for the Summer Suns.
After Keef, the only other Sun to really make an impression on me was Marcus Landry, the only other Sun to reach double figures (11) in a game in which Phoenix knocked down a mere 33.3 percent of its shots. Aside from his three treys, Landry corralled five boards and just always seemed to be hitting the deck for a loose ball. He just wants it more than most of the other Summer Leaguers.
I know plus/minus means nothing on a game-to-game basis, particularly in Summer League, but still it’s noteworthy that the Suns were only -2 in his 28:48 and thus -15 in the 11:12 he sat.
If the Suns are going to consider one of these players for a roster spot, Landry seems to be the best fit. He’s certainly deserving of another training camp invitation and could be a nice 12th man to provide depth on the wing.
Sarver on free agency strategy
It was really interesting to hear Sarver provide his takes on the Suns, particularly when he discussed the Suns’ free agency plan.
“I think we’re pretty close to done, however we do have some cap space and we’ll have some cap space next year,” the owner said. “I also think one of the things we saw that was nice this year in free agency was a lot of the top players wanted to come to Phoenix. The top four or five or six guys out there in free agency with the exception of Deron Williams pretty much all wanted to come here. I think we’ll be able to be active next year in free agency, too. That’s the tough thing, trying to balance spending all your cap space and getting as good as you can get this year and kind of being patient. Trying to balance being good but having a little patience, too, to be great is very difficult.”
I hope that means the Suns are done handing out long-term contracts this summer because they are mindful of the importance of saving cap space for next summer.
On Nash’s departure: “I was spoiled to be affiliated with Steve the last eight years. When I bought the team it was the first signing we did, and obviously we had a lot of success, started to kind of plateau a little bit and we felt we needed to get a little younger and speed up our transition as a team. It was in our best interest to get some younger players, and we met with Steve quite a bit, but at the end of the day I think the Suns weren’t the best fit for him and he wasn’t the best fit for us given where we were and given where he was. Fortunately we were able to make a deal that got us some picks and also got him close to a location where his kids are and play for a team that can compete for a championship, so I think at the end of the day it turned into a win-win for both of us, but it’s difficult in this sport, in this business you have to make a lot of tough decisions, and sometimes it’s hard but you have to try to take the emotion out of it, and that’s kind of what at the end of the day I had to do in trading him to the Lakers.”
On rebuilding: “It’s tough. There’s parts of our business that’s a little bit unique in that in sometimes in order to get good you’ve got to get bad, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but in basketball that’s how the business works with the draft picks. I’m not sure we really want to go down that path, so we tried to attempt to transition by having some good veterans and at the same time bringing in some younger players.”
On Dragic: “I was very excited to get Goran. He got an opportunity to take over the team, and I think when he got the reins there he showed really what he could do. I think it’s going to be good.”
On Beasley: “One of the things our players said when we played against them was they thought he was one of the toughest covers. We’re excited to see how he’s going to do.”
On the Suns’ training staff: “That kind of one of the things I never really understood about this business is how much money we spend on player but yet maybe we don’t spend as much on taking care of them. … We’re investing quite a bit more money for next season in some new things that are going to take us to an even significantly higher level than we are now hopefully heading toward some of the top soccer teams in the world to truly lead our league in professional sports in terms of taking care of the players and enhancing physical performance and avoiding injuries. We think that’s a real strength of ours.”