The Scouting Report: at Phoenix Suns
Projected starting line-up: Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris, Tyson Chandler
New arrivals: Chandler, Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer, Devin Booker (draft), Sonny Weems, Ronnie Price
Notable departures: Marcus Morris, Gerald Green
The Phoenix Suns went through minimal offseason changes after overhauling their team last season at the trade deadline. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. They acquired Tyson Chandler to be their starting center, a clear sign that the Suns think No. 5 pick in 2012 Alex Len still isn’t ready for the job. But they also did it because they thought it would increase their chances at getting LaMarcus Aldridge to deviate from the path to Spursdom.
Looking at their roster after game one, they have some interesting parts. Much like the Blazers, they’re going with an unorthodox starting line-up by starting two 6-foot-3 guards. Far more than in the opener, Portland’s perimeter defense will be tested. Bledsoe and Knight are both starting caliber NBA players, unlike the New Orelans combo of Ish Smith, a severely limited Jrue Holiday and the recently waived Nate Robinson.
Knight/Bledsoe vs. Lillard/McCollum is going to be a major reason–if not the reason–to tune into this game. Knight and Bledsoe also didn’t have great games against Dallas and will be looking to bounce back against the backcourt that’s getting all the shine after their dominating opening night performance.
The Suns have expectations to be in the playoff hunt along with Utah, Dallas and Sacramento. They got blown out at home by the Mavericks in their first game at home. But although they didn’t receive a lot of press as a potential playoff team, the Blazers quietly believe they can be one. This is a team that is in their weight class, so to speak.
The Suns legitimately played 13 guys on Wednesday against the Mavericks and have no shortage of talent on the wings. We’ll see Tucker start at the three but we will see lots of T.J. Warren, Devin Booker (6/7 in the opener), Archie Goodwin and even Sonny Weems on the wing. In an attempt to come back late, they went to a 4-guard line-up with new acquisition Jon Leuer at center.
The bench match-ups with these two teams should be fun. Warren can really play and Booker can shoot the lights out. Archie Goodwin was drafted as a project that is finally rounding into form. And Teletovic and Leuer can both shoot the ball. Portland’s bigs in second units, Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh, have to be ready to cover those guys at the 3-point line. Tonight is a night we could also see some Aminu-at power forward line-ups for Portland if the Suns go to some of their 4-wing looks.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek is not afraid to go against convention. In fact, since he arrived in Phoenix, little that the Suns have done could be filed under “conventional.” Their ball-handlers will still isolate at the end of shot clocks and their team will look to run at every opportunity (top-3 in pace in the NBA last year). Adding Chandler as a screen and roll man should be a boost for their team overall.
The Blazers play the Suns again tomorrow in Portland.
- Tonight’s game will tip-off at 7:30 PM. They’re also going to retire Steve Nash’s number in Phoenix tonight.