COMMENTARY | There are but a few things we know for certain about the Phoenix Suns. We know they're in a rebuilding phase, we know they're not going to win the NBA championship, and we know they're going to look a lot different under new head coach Jeff Hornacek.
Other than that, everything is up in the air.
There are a litany of questions heading into training camp, but I've narrowed it down to five:
WILL THE ERIC BLEDSOE/GORAN DRAGIC PAIRING WORK?
Two playmakers, but only one offense to run and one basketball to go between them. There's no question that there will be an adjustment period for both players, but how will it turn out? Offensively, they'll be excellent in transition. In a half-court set, it feels like one will have to play decoy. Neither is a superb jump-shooter and both utilize their quickness to get to the basket. Defensively, both are adept at getting to passing lanes and Bledsoe could develop into a perimeter stopper. They'll be fun to watch, but fun doesn't put wins on the board.
IS MARKIEFF MORRIS READY TO BE A FULL-TIME STARTER?
One look at Morris' numbers and you'll immediately say no to the prospects of him starting. A deeper look shows that Morris gained confidence late in the season and turned into a completely different player. He became more active defensively and more engaged on the offensive end while still playing within the offense. His signature game came in a win against the Houston Rockets in April when he scored 20 points with seven rebounds, one assists, five steals and six blocks. Growing pains and inconsistency should be expected, but there's no better time to try him out than now.
CAN ALEX LEN MAKE THE TRANSITION TO THE NBA?
Soft touch around the basket? Check. Serviceable jump shot? Check. Big body to clog the lane defensively? Check.
What does all of that add up to? Nothing at this point. Len seems to have the skill set to make the transition to the NBA game, but, until we see it, we won't really know. Yes, Len can put up solid performances against other NCAA centers, but they pale in comparison to the defense he'll come up against in the NBA. Len should be healthy and ready to go shortly, so we'll get that answer sooner rather than later. The smart money is on a long development process, so don't expect much this season and you won't be disappointed.
IS ARCHIE GOODWIN MORE STEAK OR SIZZLE?
There's no reason to compare Goodwin to other NBA players right now unless you enjoy that kind of rah-rah propaganda that often fizzles out when we see the finished product. Goodwin is an athlete with an insatiable desire to get to the basket. That's a great strength to have. Strength, however, is what might keep him away from the basket.
Goodwin is still just 19 years old and doesn't have the NBA body he will in a few seasons. For now, stronger defenders will be able to bump Goodwin and play a physical style against him. Can he add muscle without losing the explosiveness that got him to the NBA in the first place? Goodwin will have his share of highlights and lowlights. Expect electric dunks followed by head-scratching turnovers. He's a late first-rounder who's played just one year in college. Give him time.
HOW LOW (HIGH) CAN THEY GO?
Any Suns coach or front office member that tells the media they aren't keeping an eye on the standings this year is flat out lying. The Suns are positioning themselves to have a high lottery selection in next year's stacked NBA draft. The first half of the season will be about chemistry and development, but you can count on the second half being about draft position. Watch for Bledsoe, Dragic and company to get mysterious cramps and fatigue late in the year. Think of it as taking a step backward to take two steps forward.
Michael Dunlap covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of HoopsHabit.com.
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