The first game of the regular season is upon us, and what would our preview be without a conversation with our sister blog! Dave King, managing editor of Bright Side of the Sun, was kind enough to answer a few of our burning Suns questions (get it? GET IT?) in advance of the season opener for both teams.
One of the bigger stories for the Suns this offseason was Markieff Morris' frustration with the front office. Has that whole ordeal been smoothed over from both a team and fan perspective? How do you think it may have affected team chemistry?
You might be shocked to hear how forgiving fans are. ;) From the first day he was introduced this preseason - at a free scrimmage -- he was roundly cheered simply because he was one of the most well-known players on the team. Even casual fans know Morris' name, and they want to cheer on the Suns, so he gets the benefit of cheers. (shrug) For his part, Morris has been a model citizen since returning to the team, and the team has expressed confidence in him at every level. Players love him. Coaches respect his skillset. Basically, this is a non-event... as long as they win games and Morris keeps his 30+ per game starting spot. What could go wrong, right?
Tyson Chandler is one of my favorite Mavericks ever. Can we have him back please? Assuming we can't, how do you see Tyson fitting alongside the rest of the team?
Chandler will provide something the Suns have lacked for years -- a 'director' on the back line of the defense. As you all know, Chandler is quite intense. He will make sure to tell players what they did right and wrong in a constant stream of expression. So far, it's the kick in the pants the players have needed and wanted. I just hope the mid-career players don't tune him out after a while in the way players eventually tune out a coach who keeps telling them to work harder. Time will tell, but I am highly optimistic.
Now that preseason is behind us, who is a player (or players) on the Suns that Mavs fans may not know well but who will have an impact on this season?
You might not recognize it as its happening, but backup guard Sonny Weems will be a pleasant surprise this season. He isn't a volume scorer, but he can score when needed on threes and dunks. He isn't a great defender, but will get timely steals. And he isn't a great playmaker, but finished with 8 assists in a game last week. Fans might find themselves reflecting on a game after its over and say 'damn, Weems made a big difference tonight'. Other than Weems, I'm excited to watch T.J. Warren play basketball. He's a throwback kind of player who scored creatively in the midrange and around the basket with an array of dipsy-do and spin and up-and-under type moves. Before you know it, he's got 10 points in 5-10 minutes of play.
After looking like a breakout player in Milwaukee, Brandon Knight has seemed to struggle since getting to Phoenix. Are appearances deceiving here, or what's going on otherwise?
Knight has definitely been underwhelming in Phoenix. He's still not quite right with the ankle, and has been playing tentatively as a result. But he just might be the Suns best shooter from long range and won't hesitate to put up shots, so his impact on the team still might be a positive one even while he gets back to 100 percent. I'm waiting for that "near All-Star" to emerge though, as he was touted in Milwaukee this past winter. For now, we're looking at a 10-13 points/game shooting guard who hasn't stood out as a difference-maker.
The Suns have been a trendy pick for the Western Conference eighth seed the past few seasons. Where do you see them realistically finishing this year?
Same ol', same ol'. Once again, the Suns are primed to be fighting for that seventh-eighth seed with teams like Utah, New Orleans, Dallas, Portland, Sacramento and maybe even Denver. I'd rank the Suns in the upper half of these teams, but maybe a bit behind NOLA and the Jazz, leaving them in the 9th-10th position once again. Fans are not happy with this, and in fact are getting quite bored. If the Suns miss the playoffs again, that will be a franchise-record futility of six consecutive playoff misses.
Thanks Dave! You can check out my responses to Dave's Mavericks questions over at Bright Side of the Sun, and you can follow him on Twitter @DaveKingNBA.