Phoenix Suns expect to push the pace, just like old times

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

In an offseason of change on the player front, the Phoenix Suns coaching staff remains (mostly) intact and their game plan has hardly changed.

Of the 17 players who began training camp today, only six have played for Alvin Gentry and this coaching staff before.

And none have commanded Gentry's offense for more than 20 minutes at a stretch. That's the way it is when Steve Nash is your point guard for eight seasons.

But entering the 2012-13 NBA season, someone else has to step up and lead the team. Partially by handling the ball, partially by passing and creating open shots and partially by leading the team through tough stretches. That won't all be encapsulated in one person as it used to be. Now those tasks must be shared among the players.

So far, Gentry's plan is unchanged. Well, mostly unchanged. Play fast and loose on offense. Try harder than ever on defense. The new guys just have to get up to speed.

"At one time, everyone was a student. It's a pretty simple system, really," Gentry said. "The guys are excited. We'll have a full month to get ready, before our first game against Golden State. You have got be in really great shape, and play the basketball you've been playing your whole life. We're going to be up-tempo."

Expecting Goran Dragic, who has been described by himself and everyone else around him as totally different and more confident than when he left the Suns in 2011, to run the team the same as Nash did would be folly.

The play calls may start out the same, but Dragic runs the pick-and-roll totally differently. He will use the screen to attack the basket, and either finish at the rim or feed the ball to open players after the defense collapses.

But Dragic cannot do this all by himself, and Gentry knows that. He is grateful for another offseason addition.

"The difference is Scola," he said at Suns Media Day, per Paul Coro of azcentral.com. "We don't have anyone since Boris (Diaw) that's been him. He can pass. He can score in the low block. I could definitely see us running through him."

And that is not all. Oh no, that is not all.

"Then you have Beasley, who is probably our best offensive player who can score from the mid-block kind of like a Carmelo (Anthony). The thing with him is once he starts scoring, can he make other players better? We know Scola can."

So Beasley can score from anywhere, but everyone knows he has so far not shown an ability or desire to lead a team.

Scola can lead a team, but he is not talented enough to carry them all game long.

Dragic can run a team, and play as many minutes as it takes while doing it, but can't do it all by himself and is certainly not as gifted as Nash in creating shots for others.

None of this fazes Alvin Gentry.

"We're still going to try to lead the league in scoring. We'll play nine or ten guys consistently. We'll still try to lead the league in field-goal percentage and assists."

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