Suns Camp Notebook: Point Guards Update

With 18 players still on the roster, nearly every position is, for now, overstocked.

None of them has caused more discussion than point guard, where Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall and Archie Goodwin all give Head Coach Jeff Hornacek different options and skill sets.

All four of them are trying to mesh their respective strengths within Hornacek’s uptempo offense, which relies on the point guard to initiate and create high-quality opportunities for everyone on the floor.

“We feel our point guards, all four of them, have to put pressure on the defense to where they have to collapse and stop them from getting layups,” said the Suns’ head coach. “All of the sudden the outside shot’s there. They’re going to benefit from that as well as the shooters are going to get more open looks.”

Bledsoe has embraced the role. The 6-1 guard could be seen using his combination of speed and size to affect the last portion of Thursday’s scrimmage. A steal and breakaway dunk. A strip from behind and pass up ahead to Archie Goodwin for an easy jam.

On another play Bledsoe pushed the ball up, drew the defense, then floated a pass over Marcin Gortat’s fronting defender, leading to another easy basket. Hornacek said such scenes have been commonplace during training camp.

“Our emphasis on [Bledsoe] is to try and do that all game long,” Hornacek said. “When we do that, it’s not only going to open up himself and our three-point shooters, but then our big guys. He made some great passes to our big guys running.”

Dragic saw some court time with Bledsoe through the first two days of camp, but sat out Wednesday’s workout to rest after the quick turnaround from EuroBasket to Flagstaff. The sideline vantage point gave the returning point guard a chance to gauge his teammates’ preferences and strengths.

“We have a lot of players who are athletic. They can jump and they can run,” Dragic said. “I think this season is going to be much different than last season. We’re going to run a lot. We can push the ball, we can shoot from three and we’ve got big guys, a big presence inside the paint, so that’s good.”

Meanwhile Marshall is making strides heading into his second season out of North Carolina. Hornacek had a chance to work with the former lottery pick at the NBA Summer League, and said Wednesday that he has embraced the amped-up offense.

“I think he’s been great,” Hornacek said. “He’s really pushing the ball. He’s the one guy that, even after makes, you don’t have to yell at his team to get the ball out of bounds quick and go with it. That’s been a nice thing he’s done, is continually get the guys down as quick as possible and get into the offense.”

Just as he did at Summer League, Goodwin will see opportunities at both the point and shooting guard spots. The rookie out of Kentucky has continued to impress both coaches and teammates with his fearlessness driving to the rim.

“He’s only 19, so he’s really young and he’s got a lot of talent,” Dragic said. “So far he’s battling on defense and offense, and when he puts the ball on the floor, he’s really unstoppable. I think he’s going to have a nice future.”