“When you’re a brand new team like this, the opening day starting lineup doesn’t have to be that lineup all 82 games,” Vogel said earlier this month in a Q&A with The Arizona Republic.
“There’s an element of trial and error. Giving certain guys opportunities with certain groups and not because one is succeeding or failing, but just because throughout an 82-game season, you want to explore what possibilities you have on your roster so you’re best equipped come playoff time. I do think there will be several guys that get those opportunities.”
The Suns begin camp Tuesday with legit championship aspirations, but questions that may remain unanswered by the time they face the Warriors. Here are five things to watch for:
Jusuf Nurkic and fifth starter
The Suns must figure out how Jusuf Nurkic will fit with those three as well as who will be the fifth starter.
Nurkic isn't the athlete Ayton is, but is a solid passer who can score in the post and out of screen and roll.
How he fares on defense in Vogel's system is a mystery the Suns need to solve.
Josh Okogie, Keita Bates-Diop and Yuta Watanabe are definitely in the running for fifth starter. All three may wind up getting an opportunity to start, but can one, or someone else, stand out and stick in that role?
Vogel wants the Suns to play with pace, have quick pindowns and drags and utilize multiple ball handlers.
He has three prolific scorers in Booker, Durant and Beal, but can use camp to find the balance between them creating shots for themselves and their teammates within the framework of the offense.
Booker likely will have the ball in his hands the most, but playing off the ball with Durant and Beal could make him an even more lethal scorer.
Also, how Nurkic fits in terms of the Suns playing with pace is a mystery.
The Suns are looking to improve from being 13th in defensive rating in last season’s playoffs out of 16 teams.
Vogel is proven as a defensive coach. Three of his 11 teams finished first in the NBA in defensive rating while two more ranked third.
The Suns are looking to defend at that level with Nurkic being a possible centerpiece. He averaged less than one blocked shot last season.
Can he be a deterrent in Vogel's defensive scheme? Will he be able to switch out on guards and hold his own in Phoenix?
Trade right before camp
Ayton said this summer he felt the “whole world hating" him after another disappointing postseason finish and wanted to “change the narrative” about himself. Ayton then responded by playing a major role in the Bahamas winning an Olympic pre-qualifying tournament in Argentina and getting one step closer to playing in Paris in 2024.
The initial thought right after that tournament was whether Ayton could bring that energy and enthusiasm of representing his country into this season for the Suns. Now the question becomes will Nurkic be able to contribute in a way to complement his new teammates?
If he does, the Suns won't have to hear questions about trading Ayton. If Nurkic doesn't, and Ayton lives up to his potential with the Blazers, oh boy, this trade will really get scrutinized.
Beal is Phoenix's biggest offseason addition, but Bol Bol is perhaps the most intriguing one.
He’s 7-2, has handles, and can rebound and block shots, but Phoenix is his third NBA team in five seasons.
The son of former NBA player Manute Bol has been in many ways an anomaly in the league, but he is coming off his best year last season in Orlando.
The Suns may have something in Bol Bol that makes them even more formidable.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix Suns enter camp with serious talent, major questions after Deandre Ayton trade