In a vacuum the season debut of the Phoenix Suns showed numerous positive trends. This game was an indication of how exciting this team can be, how much fun they can have running up-and-down the court, and how many new faces are going to surprise us nightly.
The team jumped all over the Trail Blazers and their energy was never matched throughout the game.
That energy was newfound after last season. Flash back to the beginning of the 2012-2013 season for the Suns scraped and clawed to an 87-85 loss to the Golden State Warriors. It was a game that was not something the franchise was used to with a slow pace, methodical defensive intent, and overall an ugly brand of basketball. Luis Scola (15 points 11 rebounds) and Michael Beasley (8 points 4 rebounds) had forgetful debuts that led to a one-and-done tenure with the team.
Overall the underlying difference between an exciting 104-91 victory versus an ugly loss like last season was the very impressionable first impressions by a few of the teams new faces.
For his career Miles Plumlee had totaled, 13 points 22 rebounds and 3 blocks in 55 minutes -- yes, totaled. He did not have a lot of opportunity as a rookie with the Pacers behind two All-Star caliber players in the front-court. He was not part of the regular rotation. When the team acquired Plumlee this summer General Manager Ryan McDonough referenced him as, "one of the best five players" at the Orlando Summer League.
In the first nine minutes of the game Plumlee snuck free under the rim for an easy dunk, isolated on the right block for a bank hook, and then followed that up with another isolation on the left lock for a sweeping hook. A few plays later he worked the two man game with Eric Bledsoe for the first highlight of the season on an ally-oop dunk. Mix in two blocks and six rebounds and Plumlee had a first quarter to be remembered with 10 points 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
For the game Plumlee finished with 18 points 15 rebounds and 3 blocks in 40 minutes.
That is five more points, seven fewer rebounds, and a career total match in blocks. It is not outside the realm of possibility that in his next 15 minutes of action that Plumlee exceeds his rebounding total from last year and continues on a career resurgence path that could be a highlight of the overall season.
Looking back at recent years with all the big men the team has introduced this is a performance that out did the likes of Shawn Marion (14 points 14 rebounds 2 blocks in 35 minutes), Jake Tsakalidis (0pts, 2rebs, 1blk in 4min), Jake Voskuhl (8pts 7rebs 1blk in 16min), Amare Stoudemire (10pts 6rebs 0blks in 20min), Boris Diaw (7pts 4rebs 1blk in 24 min), and Shaquille O'Neal (15pts 9rebs 2blks in 29min). All of those former Suns big men opened up their career with average debuts and losses, expect for Big Jake, who was a part of a win off the bench.
Plumlee outscored, out-rebounded, out-blocked, out-hustled, and overall out-performed every Suns big man over the past 15 years.
His energy and effort sparked the team and led to a 30 point out-burst in the first quarter.
Eric Bledsoe was not to be out done in his debut. The shiny new engine that was brought in to drive the Suns on both ends of the floor came out slow, but closed the game strong. His attacking style led to four trips to the free-throw line for easy points to help close out the game, something the team did not have last season. For the game Bledsoe finished with 22 points 6 assists 7 rebounds and one steal in 39 minutes.
Both Dragic and Nash had initial debuts and rebirth debuts for the Suns, for them, let's focus on the former. In Nash's case he debuted with a win and 12 points 4 assists and 2 steals. It was the first game on his way to an MVP season. Dragic came in the second time with a tough loss and 17 points 8 assists and 3 steals. They each had an impact early.
Kidd (6pts 9asts 7rebs 3stls in 20min) came in mid-season, like Johnson (4pts 5asts 1stl in 25min), and they had average debuts.
Only Marbury had a clean slate for his first impression with the team. His 14pts 10asts 1stl in 33min did not lead to a win, or a long tenure, but was arguably the most impressive debut for a point guard with the Suns in the last 23 years.
Who would have knew that the the recipe for the 2013-2014 Suns to be successful was to have the single most exciting debut for a big man and a point guard. These are both players that were hand picked by McDonough to be a part of the future of the team with their athleticism and skill. They each brought the energy and intensity that was required to win, in a vacuum, and going forward if they find consistency, this Suns team could be a pleasant surprise.
This season will be patched together by great, albeit surprising, performances from individuals. Who had the better overall debut?
The answer is deeper than an individual performance. The best rookie performance was a collection of Plumlee inside, Bledsoe on the perimeter, McDonough in the front office, Hornacek on the sideline, and -- even more-so important and worth talking about -- the culture that is now emanating throughout the arena after just one game.
The Suns are exciting again, no matter the wins and losses, they are just simply exciting thanks to a collection of promising debuts.
More from Bright Side Of The Sun:
- Happy Halloween! BSotS Meetup Tomorrow!
- Recap: Suns blast Blazers, 104-91, behind Dragic, Bledsoe and Plumlee
- Game Preview: Phoenix Suns host playoff hopeful Portland Trailblazers and the Fropez in 2013-14 season opener
- The Phoenix Suns and the lottery limbo: How low can they go?
- BSOTS Phoenix Suns PREVIEW RoundTableAPalooza! Season predictions edition from leaders in points, to efficency, and more