I, like every other Suns fan, have been wondering why we have (purportedly) 5 PG’s under contract for the coming year. Especially when we need a shooting guard (and one of the PG’s (Goodwin) projects as a shooting guard- but McDonough insists he is a point guard.)
It is conventional wisdom in the NBA that defense wins championships, but offense puts butts in the seats. We need some butts in the seats – revenue makes the world go round. And we need defense, down the road (unless anyone thinks we will compete for a title this year?). Not that we have made concessions on the defensive front – Len, Bledsoe, and Goodwin all have a great deal of potential upside.
So, what the hell are they thinking? Predictive and conventional thinking would have us bundling the assets we have left (Gortat, Butler, and to a lesser extent even Beasley, Tucker, Brown and maybe even Dragic) to balance our team, get younger, more talented, and more athletic, and let the team grow together. The typical American NBA Dream Team - 2 PG's, 2 SG's, 2 SF's, 2.5 Bigs and a 2 car garage + filler.
But having written about “Wiggins bad”, and “Championship Models”, I concur that there is value in sucking this year. I don’t feel the urgency to finish top 5 in the lottery – looking at the projections, which are unreliable at this time of year, that draft may be very strong into the 12-15 range, but higher is better, of course. Even so, the fans and apparently the FO are ready for and amenable to sucking for Wiggins. This, folks, is a unique opportunity. OKC had the same opportunity, and made good use of it – we should, too.
We have a free year. No pressure on the coach, no pressure on the team. Injuries? No big deal. Bonehead plays? The price of doing business. Rookie mistakes? The more, the better. Get them out of your system. No D? There is no D in “Suck for Wiggins". No Shooting Guard? We don’t need no steenkeeng shooting guard. Too small? Too bad. We gots what we got.
Tabula Rasa. Carte Blanche. E Pluribus Unum. Or, how about “Eruditio et meritum pro omnibus”? (That means, “learning and benefit for all”). Or, what about “Errare humanum est?” (To err is human). Those Latin guys thought of everything! My personal favorite, though, is “Olly, olly, oxen free!” Because we’ve got a free pass, a Golden Ticket, a shot at the brass ring. Okay, okay, I’m done with the clichés and the Latin – until later. But it’s really true – we can do whatever we want. We can make stuff up. We could even have all of our guards make an entrance to the court out of a clown car – and I think we should.
The two PG set is not new, nor is the 3 guard set. Hornacek himself was part of this innovation, and the Spurs have been doing it for years with Parker and Ginobili. OKC did it with Westbrook and Harden with great success, and Monte Ellis has been part of two notable failed experiments. A lot of teams have done it out of necessity, and Bledsoe was even part of a short-lived but not bad experiment with Chris Paul. Positionless Basketball – it’s what all the cool kids are doing.
So what is the downside of playing Dragic and Bledsoe together? Too small – they will get abused on defense. That may not be true, but if it is – so what? Ping Pong balls. Yay! What if it works? Then try something different! Or trade somebody! Marshall, Goodwin, and Bledsoe together? Marshall does one thing well, and that’s pass. If he could be used to move the ball from one side of the court to the other, the other team will be so tired with 22 seconds gone in the shot clock they may just give up. There is value making the opposition chase you – particularly late in games. What about Dragic, Marshall, Goodwin, Bledsoe, and Beasley at center? That would probably suck – but we should try it anyway. A lot. Why? Because we can. Table Tennis Testicles! I mean…Ping Pong Balls.
Use a random number generator to set your lineup. Play dice to see who starts. Tape a couple of PG’s together to make a center. Let Bledsoe jump to start the game. Put Len as PG at the top of the circle and let him distribute to an endless parade of cutters. It’s not that I see these being successful strategies – but I do see them as being valuable learning experiences with no negative consequences, because we can’t lose! (Ping Pong Balls!) Do you really think San Antonio can put 5 guys on the floor who can guard Bledsoe, Dragic, Goodwin, Tucker, and Scola for 24 seconds over and over? Or could keep up with us in transition? Each thing we try may work, or, more likely, not – but it won’t affect anyone’s net value – how could anyone say that Bledsoe was worth less when we tried all these crazy things? And if any of it works – put it in your back pocket, and save it until next year. Remember, Ping Pong Ballzzzzzzz!
I, like everyone else here, have no idea what McDonough and Hornacek have in mind. It’s possible that they don’t, either. Maybe it’s just about talent, no matter where it comes from. But I have a sneaking suspicion that McDonough’s penchant for fast, gritty, athletic Point Guards has an ulterior motive – one I’m sure Hornacek shares. They aren’t likely to tell us about it ahead of time, either. So, as fans, we should start a petition drive to let them know that “Ex mero motu” – (without compulsion or restraint) is perfectly fine with us. Or we could say “Esto quod audes” (Be what you dare). Hopefully, at the end of the season, we’ll all be saying “Ecce quam bonum” (Behold, how good!)