Yes, I am still way to excited just to have watched a full game of professional basketball with my team playing some other team. Even a preseason game against the Hawks has me thoroughly jazzed.
There were ref's. Fans. Spontaneous cheers of Defense! Defense! And there was our young Suns making us proud and frustrated. Often on the same play.
And now a moment of homeriphic hyperbole and hype based on scant evidence and shaky insight (what else are blogs for anyway?).
Finish this sentence with me in the comments. I'll go first.
I predict that at the end of the season....
- Robin Lopez will lead all rookies in fouls per game while earning a reputation as a high energy backup center with better then expected offense, a turbocharged motor and a lot to learn about defensive positioning at this level. Zaza Pachulia schooled him one on one and while Robin was trying to rotate and be in right place he often wasn't. Huge upside. Lots of potential. Still a rookie needing fan patience. 6 fouls in 16 minutes. That's impressive.
- Goran Dragic will lead all rookies in assists and sun burns. This kid is very white and very smooth with ball in his hands. He glides down the court and dishes the ball like he's serving up a short stack of buttermilk pancakes. Defensively, he's adjusting to the tighter NBA rules for perimeter contact and the speed. He simply could not keep Acie Law in front of him. He's a work in progress but I already would much rather have the ball in his hands then in Barbosa's or Strawberry's facing a hard trap or an aggressive defender. Next summer's agenda includes improving the jump shot. And a tan.
- Alando Tucker will end the season with a new career high of at least 20 points. This kid can flat out score after contact in the paint and his jumper has improved as well. He looks exactly like a college power forward playing the shooting guard position and a bit like a smash mouth running back as well. He plays with confidence and maturity beyond his year in the game. Look for him to be this year's Aaron Affalo.
- Lou "Pony Boy" Amundson will join a long line of fan favorite garbage time big men. Bo Outlaw. Pat Burke. Fat Oliver Miller. Except this kid can play a little. And the fans noticed fast. Early in the game the guys behind me were overheard saying "who's the kid with the pony tail". By the end of the game after hustle plays and some aggressive looks at the rim they were chanting "ponyyyy taaaaill". Suns fans get ready to forget about Brian Skinner's goatee if this guy gets any minutes at all.
- Sean Singletary should expect to see what a winter in Iowa looks like. He didn't see the court at all.
- Matt Barnes is officially my pick for Most Likely to Throw Down. My man plays with a serious chip on his shoulder. Forget Raja clothes lining Kobe. When this guy hooks up with Artest the sparks will fly.
- Boris Diaw will surprise people with how aggressive he is. Passing up opportunities to pass the ball while standing 2 ft from the rim and actually dunking on occasion. Then Amare will come back and it will be right back to Doris. Or maybe, just maybe Dan Majerle explained the concept of dominant play and convinced him how good he can really be. He sure looked it tonight.
- And Shaq will....you know, I am in too good a mood to even go here. He had 21 pts and 10 boards in 23 minutes. Even I can't complain about that.
As for the new Suns system, it's far too soon to say. There were some signs in the first half when the Suns did a solid job forcing only outside shots and held the Hawks to 12 points in the first quarter. The second unit did well in the second quarter also only giving up another 25. In the third it was reversion back to past Suns team as the starters got tired or got bored with the whole defense thing and gave up 36.
Offensively, there is certainly a new look. A lot baseline cuts and picks. A lot of movement without the ball. A lot of low post play. And an heck of lot of working the shot clock down ala Detroit. There's not a lot of three's but just enough fast breaks to not let you forget that this is still a Suns team.
Oh, and this is a Suns team with a lot of guys that pass the ball well. The ball moves and when guys get open running off screens they will get hit for wide open looks. Those passes can come from all angles around the perimeter.
Given all of our new young players, we are going to start a new feature in our game recaps.
Best Young Player of the Game
Tonight's BYPOG goes to Pony Boy and Tucker. I couldn't decide. Both played very well and very smart ball. Amundson was a dervish but managed to not foul out in only 16 minutes of play (is that a record?).
Tucker wanted the ball in his hands late but didn't force anything otherwise. He played within the team system and at times seemed like a floor leader with a bunch of youngsters around him.
Congrats to Tucker and Pony Boy. I am guessing this won't be the last time you share this award.
Here's to a good season Suns fans
Enjoy the ride
Enjoy the blog
And enjoy life (unless you are a Wall Street investment banker type who got rich off mortgage backed securities or credit default swaps in which case you can go lick Shaq's fat ass)