For the first time since 2003, the Phoenix Suns will officially kick off their season with Media Day and a trip to training camp without their captain Steve Nash.
Instead an entirely new roster will be left to field questions today about what life without Steve might look like.
This figures to be an important training camp with so many new pieces in place. It will likely take months rather than weeks for the squad to gel, and that all starts Tuesday with four straight days of two-a-days on the court in San Diego before Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage and all the camaraderie off it.
The Suns will seek to continue to improve defensively under Elston Turner after moving up from 25th to 23rd in defensive efficiency last season despite improving their efficiency mark by 3.6 points per 100 possessions in a year in which scoring was down league-wide.
They will also need to redefine their offensive game plan without Nash creating something being Plans A, B and C.
During camp we will see the first signs of whether Goran Dragic is ready to lead a team, Michael Beasley can be a go-to scorer and Wesley Johnson can make any positive contribution whatsoever.
This Suns team possesses many question marks and even more doubters, and this week the team will begin the journey to prove them all wrong.
Battle for final roster spot?
The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro expects the Suns to stage a competition for a final roster spot in light of the news that Channing Frye will likely miss the season with an enlarged heart since the Suns could now potentially use another big body for depth purposes.
Toward that end the Suns will take big men Solomon Jones and Luke Zeller, swingman Othyus Jeffers and point guard Diante Garrett to camp along with the 13 players already under contract.
If there is a competition it would presumably be between Jones, who has bounced between four teams in the past six seasons, and Zeller, the big bro of Tyler and Cody. Based on the Suns’ apparent taste for “lesser” brothers, perhaps Luke has a leg up in this big man battle.
Suns open 24th in Stein’s rankings
ESPN’s Marc Stein released his training camp power rankings and tabbed the Suns 24th, writing:
Did the Suns hang onto Steve Nash too long? Definitely. Did they spin out of Nash’s emotional defection to the hated Lakers about as well as they possibly could by signing All-Lefty Team aspirant Dragic and snagging Scola on an amnesty waiver claim? This desert lover hopes so.
Atlantic Division previews
Once again ValleyoftheSuns will be joining up with CelticsBlog’s Jeff Clark and a host of other blogs to mutually preview the Association. This works through having every blog preview its own team (look for the Suns preview here on Thursday) and then having the rest of the blogs post all of the previews.
Without further ado, I give you the Atlantic Division:
New York Knicks: Posting and Toasting
Philadelphia 76ers: Liberty Ballers
Toronto Raptors: Raptors HQ
- Jared Dudley stopped by FastLifeShow.com for an interesting interview that touched on his offseason, Nash going to the Lakers and whether the Suns can rebuild and reload at the same time. Said Dudley of the latter question, “The odds are no, but we are here to try and prove everyone wrong.”
- The NBA announced last week that floppers likely will be fined upon a league video review of the infraction. TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott does not feel this goes far enough. It will be very interesting to see how the league doles out this punishment and whether this is a first step toward a more serious punishment for flopping like a technical. Obviously this won’t eliminate flopping altogether, but it might make some floppers think twice before acting. I wonder how Scola feels about all this.