LAS VEGAS — The Phoenix Suns dropped their Las Vegas Summer League opener, 74-72, to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at the Cox Pavilions Center. The Warriors won the game on a put-back from Justin Holiday with three seconds left. With no timeouts remaining, the Suns were left with just a desperation heave from Archie Goodwin that missed the mark.
A poor defensive effort in the first half gave the Warriors control. The Suns were continually allowing Warrior guards into the paint at will and rebounding issues plagued them all night. A strong surge in the third quarter gave the Suns a lead going into the fourth, but poor offensive possessions late contributed to the Warriors stealing the win in the final moments.
TJ Warren - The Suns’ first-round pick out of N.C. State was as advertised in his debut, scoring 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Warren showed that he can score in just about any way possible and seemed to have a knack for the ball finding him on the offensive end. He had a quiet start to the game, but reentered late in the first quarter and scored four points to close out the quarter. For the rest of the game he was the best player on the court and gave the Suns scoring whenever they needed it.
Alex Len - The second year center’s confidence level is at a much better place than last season. Len was active all game around the rim, grabbing six rebounds and changing the direction of many shots. Offensively, Len was very smooth. He was aggressive with his shot and showed flashes of his passing skills early in the game. The point total wasn’t high (6), but he showed a good touch with his shot and a strong confidence shooting the ball.
Archie Goodwin picked up right where he left off the regular season, which may not actually be for the best. Goodwin scored 17 points on 6-10 shooting, but all of those points except two of them were on free throws and drives to the basket.
The big thing with Goodwin is getting him to be confident in his outside shot, which is not there yet. There were a couple of times that he passed up or hesitated on his release for an outside jumper. Moving forward, I would like to see Goodwin shoot more jumpers as this would be the time for him to improve in that area. On a positive note, Goodwin showed his strength of taking the ball to the basket and got to the free throw line at will. He also made the play of the game when he poked the ball out of a Warrior player and scored a layup to give the Suns the lead in the final two minutes.
Who needs work?
Alec Brown - The Suns second round pick out Wisconsin-Green Bay struggled mightily in his first professional game, going 0-for-7 and rarely coming close to knocking down a shot. He subbed in for the first time about midway through the first quarter and quickly fired three shots, missing all three badly. The 7-foot-1 center’s strength is shooting the ball, but he simply did not have it today. The other parts of his game are very raw, and it clearly showed. On offense he played the entire game behind the three-point arch and did not record a rebound, though he did have three blocks on the other end.
Miles Plumlee - A very disappointing first game for the starting center. Plumlee struggled in the post offensively and finished without a field goal, though he did knock down three free throws. He did make some strong moves around the basket, but just could not put the right touch to get his shot to drop. Defensively he played big, grabbing nine rebounds and showed the high motor that he always plays with.
- The final offensive possession for the Suns stood out to me in many ways. For one, neither Warren and Tyler Ennis were on the floor. In Summer League, I would like to see both first-round picks on the floor at crunch time, especially Warren. Nothing against Seth Curry, but he has very little shot of making the team, and I don’t want to see him taking the biggest shot of the game.
- The combination of Len and Plumlee on the floor together did not go as well as I would like to see. They were tough to score on down low as expected but didn’t rebound well. The Warriors had more second chance opportunities than they should. On the offensive end, it will never work until Len discovers his jump shot, as the paint was too clogged for most of the night. As I mentioned, he showed the confidence and touch to knock down shots, but it is one thing to show the potential and another to actually do it.
- The size of T.J. Warren in person really stood out to me. Watching him play many times on television at N.C. State, he never seemed like the biggest guy on the floor. But tonight his size and strength as a small forward really stood out to me and came as a pleasant surprise.