Opposing Views: L.A. Times Blogger Eric Pincus

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With the Suns and Lakers set to tip off for the first time this season, Suns.com caught up with Eric Pincus, the Los Angeles Times Lakers blogger and senior writer for HOOPSWORLD.com. Pincus answers quetions related to the better-than-expected starts from both teams, as well as the faces behind their success.

The Suns and Lakers have both defied many preseason predictions, hovering right around .500 to stay competitive in the deep Western Conference. Which individual for each team do you think is most responsible for its respective start to the season?

The Lakers and Suns have similar teams with a long list of players contributing. Both rely heavily on their bench – both have pushed through injuries and have found success. While you can point at individuals like Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Steve Blake or with the Suns, Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris, etc., both coaching staffs have been exemplary.

Mike D’Antoni has gotten the most out of a group of players who were unwanted, a number of first-round picks that didn’t pan out in their first go-arounds in the league. Even without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers managed to hover above .500 without Kobe Bryant.

In his first year as head coach, Jeff Hornacek has gotten a team many suspected was “tanking” to a winning record. Both should be in consideration for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award, although Hornacek would have the edge over D’Antoni.

The buzz this week is around Kobe Bryant’s return, but there might not be another matchup in the league that features more underrated guards. What do you think isn’t being talked about enough when it comes to Steve Blake, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, respectively?

Blake came through for the Lakers late last season after Bryant’s injury as the team’s primary scoring guard. When Steve Nash sat this season with back issues, Blake became the double-figure assist point for the Lakers. Blake is a scrappy, he plays hard, defends with effort and has been instrumental in organizing the Lakers’ offense.

Eric Bledsoe is finally getting the minutes he didn’t get as Chris Paul’s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers, giving him the opportunity to truly develop his game. Bledsoe was already is a strong, tough defender but he has proven to be very efficient scorer for the Suns this season.

This season hasn’t necessarily shown anything new from Goran Dragic. He’s a very solid point guard who can score and find his teammates. Give him the situation and he’s going to help his team win.

This month features a bevy of games within the Pacific Division, with only three games separating the top four teams. Which of those four clubs (Clippers, Warriors, Suns Lakers) has surprised you, for better or worse, through the first month and change of the regular season?

The Warriors have struggled a bit with injuries, notably to Andre Iguodala (hamstring) but the biggest surprise is that the Suns are ahead of both the Warriors and Lakers. The Clippers have also underwhelmed but then they’ve also had a number of injuries.

That the Suns are even in the conversation is impressive.