I forgot how good this guy is and that's on a night where his outside touch was off and he didn't have a clue how to play with his mates.
What an upgrade over Bell. I will let others gush over his dunks and drives. What impressed me most was the way he attacked the glass. We NEVER saw Bell do that. As soon as a shot went up Bell was running down court for lob he somehow thought he could do something with or he was pedaling back on D. The Suns lately were giving up a LOT of long rebounds. That's over now.
As for his defense - that remains to be seen. Let's see what he does against some of the top shooting guards and more importantly how he fits in on the rotations. To be fair he's going to need at least 10 or 15 games for that.
I also have a hunch he and Tucker are going to be pals. They have similar games (with an obvious talent gap) in that both can play in the post and rebound and both can finish above the rim. But mostly they just strike me as guys with very similar outlook on the game.
Best of all it seemed that the Suns overall were energized and had a totally different attitude without Raja's....attitude.
Now, there is a down side and all my previous concerns remain.
After watching JRich and Nash play on the perimeter you have to wonder how that will look with Shaq and even more worrisome is getting Amare enough touches. Richardson had 16 attempts to Amare's 14 and that was in the first game. Without Shaq. Somewhere Amare is reading that box score and plotting his next interview with Screamin' A. Smith.
Whether Amare gets moved or the egos get placated, how the Suns handle this will be the key to their success this season.
I give Amare credit though. He came out looking aggressive in the second half on the glass and he finished strong despite not getting looks at the basket.
Diaw was sorely missed from this game. His ability to cover guys like Hedo and Lewis on the perimeter was lacking as the Magic made a run late and his spacing on the three man game with Amare and Nash was an even bigger gap.
The Suns were simply unable to find Amare at all in the fourth quarter and when Nash and Amare went to the high pick and roll the three other guys were all jammed up making it too easy for the Magic to clog the lane and defend. That should improve with time and it should be a top priority for the coaching staff.
And how about that ballsy call by Porter to put the ball in Amare's hand for the last shot and let him make the decision to either make the pass to Hill (which he did perfectly) or create something else with Steve if that wasn't there. I loved how Porter went right to Amare after the play and gave him props. That's how you build confidence in a young immature player.
You tear him down one minute for not working hard and then you reward him later when he does and show him your trust. Well done Coach Porter.