Suns Making In-Camp Roster Decisions Difficult
With training camp wrapping up this weekend, Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is still grappling with decisions on roster and rotation spots.
The players’ respective skills and collective effort have made such choices difficult to make after four days’ work, leaving nearly everyone on the roster further chances to impress in the preseason.
“We’ve had maybe three or four of those guys that might stick out as possible starters on the team, but we’re trying to mix them all, give them all an opportunity to play with each other,” Hornacek said. “We’re still analyzing that and looking at it, and I’m sure we’ll be do that throughout the whole exhibition season.”
In-game performance, then, will play a big part in who stays and who plays. There are other factors already in effect. Player-specific strengths. How well certain five-man units play together. How fast players and groups learn Hornacek’s fast-paced offense.
The Suns’ newcomers have made camp the open competition Hornacek and General Manager Ryan McDonough intended, with every day seeing a different player step up.
Gerald Green has impressed with solid outside shooting to compliment his athleticism. Dionte Christmas has added perimeter defense and ball-handling to his three-point shot.
While not technically a newcomer, Channing Frye’s quicker-than-expected return and daily improvement adds another option in an already crowded frontcourt.
Miles Plumlee is also in the mix, showing well with his athleticism and movement off the ball. He dunked twice in live scrimmage action on Thursday, including off a backdoor cut and feed from Goran Dragic.
“He’s a big, strong kid, and I think he’s really feeling comfortable with what we’re doing, especially in pick-and-roll situations when he’s diving to the basket,” Hornacek said of Plumlee. “He’s very good at finding the open areas when a guard does penetrate. They feel comfortable throwing it up in the air to him because he’s very athletic.”
The result has been a trickle-up effect. Returners like P.J. Tucker and the Morris twins, as well as rookies Alex Len and Archie Goodwin, have ramped up their own efforts to earn their own roles and playing time.
Len showed well in catch-and-shoot plays from midrange, using his 7-1 height to simply rise over his defender and sink the jump shot. Goodwin showed small strides in rounding out his game, hitting a three-pointer before slashing to the rim for a layup through traffic.
In the end, it’s left to Hornacek to sort through his practice/game notes and a grab-bag of player skill sets.
“You’ve got all kind of guys out here that lend a different part of the game to us,” he said. “Cut-wise, it’s going to be difficult. Playing-wise, it’s probably going to be even more difficult. There’s going to be guys that aren’t going to play much that you know can play pretty well. There’s opportunities out there. If one guy’s not playing well in a game, we can put another guy out there.”
Or Green and Shannon Brown can do stuff like this.