Just five months ago, the Suns were closing out their 2011-2012 campaign by playing the San Antonio Spurs at home. Now, they are just three days away from the start of training camp in La Jolla, California for the 2012-2013 season.
After a busy offseason with lots of moves, the Suns will have many new faces on their roster. With all the new additions to the team comes a lot of question marks for Phoenix. Here are just a couple ahead of camp which is set to begin on Monday.
1. Who will backup Goran Dragic?
For the first time in eight years, Steve Nash won’t be the Suns starting point guard in a beginning of a season. That duty will fall on Dragic, who the Suns are expecting to get a big season from. The real question is who will be behind him. The battle will be between rookie Kendall Marshall and veteran Sebastian Telfair. Marshall was one of the top guys on the Suns board before the draft and they were able to grab him with the 13th overall pick. Telfair was with the Suns last season where he averaged 6.1 points and 2.3 rebounds. Marshall being a lottery pick means to many that he will be the man behind Dragic, but don’t count out Telfair. He played well down the stretch last year and was one of the league’s better backup points. This should be a fun competition to watch throughout camp.
2. Who will be the team’s go-to player?
Ever since Amar’e Stoudemire left for New York, the Suns have been looking for their go-to player to give the ball to down the stretch late in games. Nash filled in for that role a lot last season, but at 37 years of age, he couldn’t do it every night. Shannon Brown was probably the Suns best late game player towards the end of the season, but can he be trusted with such a short sample size? Marcin Gortat is probably the Suns best overall player, but no one would mistake him for a Shaquille O’Neal type player in the post late in ballgames. The most likely candidate to fill this role is Michael Beasley. On his third team since entering the league, Beasley has the tools and makeup to do the job, but he has yet to do it in his career so far. Phoenix might have to go with a committee approach, but if they want to shock some people this season, someone is going to have to step up and be “the man.”
3. Will this team be able to play defense?
This might be the biggest mystery regarding this team at the moment. No longer does Alvin Gentry have the luxury of sticking Grant Hill on a opposing team’s best player. That job will be filled by Jared Dudley. Dragic is another quality defender because of his height, quickness and long arms. After that, the Suns defensive unit is something to worry about. Gortat is a good rebounder, but he can be bullied by big bigger centers in the league. Luis Scola has never been considered a good defender at power forward and Beasley is a downright liability when he isn’t playing offense. In his time with Miami and Minnesota, he didn’t show much of an effort on the defensive end. Assistant coach Elston Turner is going to have his work cut out for him to at least make the Suns a respectable defensive group this season.