Training camp for the Phoenix Suns wrapped up this week. From leadership, injuries, and youth drills, here are 10 key takeaways from the team’s week in Flagstaff.
The Phoenix Suns wrapped up training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff on Friday. Reporting on the happenings from atop the mountain trickled in throughout the the week, but here is a roundup of all the key takeaways you need to know:
Monty Williams is a detail-oriented guy
By all accounts, head coach Monty Williams loves him some details. For example, he pumped music and crowd noise through the loud speakers during practice to simulate a real game.
Deandre Ayton seemed to like this idea, saying, “It’s creative and you can’t hear yourself really. That’s paying attention to detail.”
Tyler Johnson added, “The coaching staff does a great job of going over the details of exactly what they want.”
Monty Williams also doesn’t want to get in the way
This might seem to run counter to the detail mantra above, but according to Williams, he doesn’t want to get in players’ way. He alluded to this in his Media Day press conference, and reiterated it again at training camp.
He wants Ricky Rubio to run the offense. The more leadership he has at the point guard position, the less involved he has to be. Not that he’s lazy and doesn’t want to do his job as coach, but the game flows more naturally that way.
Ricky Rubio is leading the team and ready to excel
It is a good thing Monty Williams wants Ricky Rubio to lead, because he’s doing it. He called Rubio a natural leader and said he wants to encourage his leadership.
Ricky knows he needs to fill this role too, stating, “I’m trying to [lead] and be more vocal out on the court, but at the same time lead by example too.”
In addition to this leadership role, he’s ready to take his game to the next level, saying, “I’m fully expecting to play the best game, the best play of my career in these next two or three years. I’m going to hit my prime mentally and physically and I’ve been working super hard for that.”
Get ’em, Ricky.
The rookies look good
His play impressed Devin Booker, who said, “[Ty] can do a little bit of everything; pass, dribble shoot. A high-IQ guy. He knows how to play the game.”
Monty Williams said he is picking up where he left off at Virginia, where he won the NCAA championship, so me may get into the 10-man rotation sooner than some thought.
Cam Johnson is right there with him. Due to some injuries, he ran with the first team and did what he was brought in to do: make shots.
Booker praised his quick trigger, the rate at which he has been knocking down open looks, and his ability to get his shot off quickly.
Monty Williams described him as, “Not your normal rookie.”
Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre Jr. sat out with injuries
Bridges spent most of training camp in sweat pants, unable to get on the court due to a knee injury. Monty Williams said he overdid things thing summer and it has caused some discomfort.
The Suns aren’t taking any risks and do not plan on rushing him back.
As for Kelly Oubre Jr., we already know there is a lot going on with him. He was a vocal participant at training camp, but an injury to his non-shooting hand kept him out of participating drills and scrimmages.
The Suns are calling it, “hand discomfort” but the brace he wore makes it look like this could cause him to miss more time than what “discomfort” would otherwise suggest.
At this point, I’m pretty sure if a player snapped his arm in half, Monty Williams would claim he was just having some elbow discomfort.
Oubre did get some defensive work in with assistant coach Steve Blake.
Steve Blake is an assistant coach
Maybe you already knew this, but the Phoenix Suns hiring Steve Blake as an assistant coach went completely under my radar. The former NCAA champion and NBA journeyman joins the Suns after one season as an assistant for the Portland Trailblazers.
They did the you-miss-free-throws-everyone-runs thing
Everyone who has ever played youth basketball knows this drill. If one player misses a free throw, the entire team has to run the length of the court and back.
Call me naïve, but I was under the impression this drill got phased out in high school, maybe college, but it definitely didn’t happen at the professional level.
I was wrong. The whole team lined up and ran when players missed free throws, reminding us all of our time on the mean courts of the YMCA.
Tyler Johnson made 19 3s in a row
With all the hype around Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, and the rookies, Tyler Johnson is often overlooked. The only time his name comes up usually revolves around the fact he is ridiculously overpaid.
With all this hoopla, it is easy to forget the guy can play and could help the Suns off the bench this year. At training camp, he made 19 consecutive 3 pointers.
Overpaid or not, that’s impressive.
Jevon Carter eats rocks
Figuratively, of course. Head coach Monty Williams praised Carter’s defense and his bulldog mentality adding in the amazing metaphor that he eats rocks. He will need to improve his shooting, however, if he wants to see the floor.
Most people assumed Carter would be a shoe-in for the backup point guard spot at the beginning of the year, but he will be in a battle with Ty Jerome for that honor.
No word on what metaphorical object Jerome eats.
Altitude fatigue is real
Mountain climbers will tell you, exerting yourself at high elevation will wear you out. After a full week of two-a-day practices at 7,000 feet above sea level, the players felt it.
Monty Williams said, “7,000 feet helped but it also exhausted our guys…[it’s causing] them to leave shots short.”
With training camp complete, the Phoenix Suns will make their way back toward sea level and resume practice in the Valley this weekend.
The team will host an open practice on Sunday. Get tickets if you’re in to that kind of thing.