The Fight for 15

Media day is usually a direct correlation with the start of the upcoming NBA season. Often times for players and coaches, it’s fraught with anticipation and optimism – a clean slate, if you will.

For others, it’s a time of uncertainty.

The Suns will bring 18 players to camp in Flagstaff before the start of the 2013 season. However, an NBA roster can only carry a maximum of 15 players. That means three players – at the very least – will not be on the roster by the time the season tips off on October 30.

Depending on one’s viewpoint, that realization can either be terrifying or exciting.

“I think a lot of us guys have the same mindset,” said 6-0 Suns guard Ish Smith. “It sounds cliché but we all just have to go into camp willing to compete and do whatever it takes.

“Above everything, I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

Competition makes everyone better. And with multiple players fighting for a limited number of spots, it provides an equal and distinctive opportunity for each player to make a lasting impression on the coaching staff.

“I feel, generally, that we got younger,” Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough said about the team’s roster at media day. “We got more athletic. One of the things I’m excited about going into training camp, I think we’ll have some very good positional battles. We’re bringing 18 guys to camp. Obviously 15 make the roster and less than that will make the rotation. Jeff [Hornacek] and I have told guys throughout the summer, and we’re going to tell them again tonight, that it’s an open competition.

“Whoever the best guys are will play and earn the minutes and those who aren’t won’t.”

Indeed, this sets the table for a compelling training camp. While effort and hard work will certainly be factors in the coaching staff’s final decision, so too is a player’s potential fit on the team and proven results on the court.

“That’s all you can ask for is to have a chance,” 6-5 guard Malcolm Lee said. “We have a good group here and we know that we have to produce in order get minutes. But I think I speak on behalf of all of us guys that we’re ready to go.

“We all feel that we have a lot to show on the court and want to get started.”

There’s something thrilling about the unknown. But the only things these players can control are their attitudes and how hard they play. As is the case with training camp every year, there will be several players who should turn heads with their impressive play – and potentially earn a coveted roster spot.

Who will those players be this season?

“We’ll have to see,” said Suns 6-7 swingman James Nunnally. “All I know is I’m going to play my heart out.”