Josh Childress stood in a far corner away from the mass of players, coaches, and media types Monday at Suns media day. He spoke quietly with a reporter who asked how wonderful it was to be back in the states where he could watch The Simpson's and Family Guy, two of his favorite T.V. shows. The reporter asked who his favorite characters were on the shows. "Oh definitely Homer and Peter, they're hilarious," Josh replied in his affable manner, grinning. The conversation shifted to other non-Sun, non-NBA related matters.
Josh Childress estimates he owns nearly 600 pairs of shoes. Josh Childress was an All-League volleyball player in high school. Josh Childress recently bowled a 235. Josh Childress has not stopped sweating since he arrived in Phoenix.
But none of that is important right now. What is important is that he is a vital piece of the puzzle that is the Phoenix Suns rotation of players. We all know his body of work in Atlanta where he played 4 seasons, averaging 11 points a game while chipping in 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and shooting 52% from the field. He increased his totals in Europe, which is all well and good, but what remains a mystery is how he will re-adapt to the NBA game after 2 years playing overseas.
There is no doubt that Josh is a strong NBA player. He proved that in 4 years as an Atlanta Hawk. Yet questions remain about what he will bring to the Suns this season. We can predict all we want at this stage of the pre-season, but until Josh cuts his teeth once again on the speed, talent, and pressure that comes with the NBA, we will be left wondering:
Can he re-adapt to the NBA game?
Josh Childress was an effective player for the Atlanta Hawks. He was a star in Europe. His 16 points per game in Greece was "the equivalent of 32" in the NBA he said. There is no question that the Euro leagues are a fry cry from the NBA. J-Chill played in American high school sized gyms in Greece. The pressure of NBA games filled with arenas filled with 20,000 ravenous, English speaking fans is much different than those in Europe. How will he handle the change?
How quickly I'll adjust to it is based on me, but there's definitely a difference in the style of play and talent level and the athletic ability and speed of the game, these things I'll have to adapt to quickly...[In the Euro leagues] the talent level is good, athletically the level isn't high, some of them have to make do with what they're blessed with...They are very physical which is obviously something that we don't really think of over here...
Translation: adaptation is a legitimate concern to Josh. He acknowledges the difference in play, and while the Euro leagues aren't like going back to play high schoolers or D-leaguers, there most likely will be a transitional period in which Josh not only has to jell with his teammates but also to his opponents. Let's hope this occurs in the pre-season and early on in the regular season. And as he mentioned, quickly.
What will his role be on the Suns?
Childress will no doubt add to the Suns depth and versatility with his size and skill set. He's an obvious back up to Jason Richardson at the 2 and the 3 behind Grant Hill. Josh will be counted on to slash, finish, while of course, defend and contribute on the boards. He's a lifetime 36% shooter from beyond the arc, so he'll likely get the green light in the Suns system. I won't go so far as to call Childress a facilitator, but he's a heady, unselfish player who always looks for the open man:
Josh Childress Passing.mp4 (via TheMikeSchmitz)
I'm not worried about proving myself, I just want to come in and win. Help my team as much as possible...My main goal is to come out and work as hard as I can and really gel into the system as soon as possible.
Translation: Just get me on the hardwood and let me play my game, y'all.
What are Alvin Gentry's expectations?
Josh Childress is a coach's dream. He isn't a superstar, but he can do a little of everything, he puts the team ahead of his ego and plays the game hard, the right way, with the right attitude.
We think he is going to be a great perimeter defender who can bring a lot on the offensive end as well with his ability to slash. Josh will add a lot to our team because he is so multitalented...I think Josh Childress can add that energy to the mix for us...[he] does a great job and probably is about as good an offensive rebounder in the league, gets his hands on a lot of balls.
(On crashing the boards) It's been something over my career I've tried to do, hit the glass, it's something coach Gentry is expecting of me...
Translation: I'll do whatever coach wants me to do.
How will he acclimate himself with the rest of the Suns roster?
This is a no-brainer for me. Childress is going to be a leader for our Phoenix Suns. While he says he'll let Nash and Hill continue their roles as the heart and soul of the squad, I predict that Childress will become an on court and locker room leader similar to the way Jared Dudley is. He's a high character guy, selfless and focused on winning.
Guys like Steve and Grant and JRich, you look at those guys and you can't help but follow a little bit, but my main goal is to come out and work as hard as I can and really gel into the system as soon as possible...I'm excited, it's a good group of guys, a talented hard working group of guys, when you have those three things, it could be trouble (for the other team).
Translation: Chill won't need to rally the troops vocally. His play will inspire the rest. He will instantly become a fan favorite (us Suns fans love the hustlers and high basketball IQ guys.)
The challenge of course is how the rotation will work. There really is no true back up 2 other than Chill, so on paper it would appear he'll spend the bulk of his time spelling JRich while Dudley resumes his role behind Grant Hill. But the beauty of this squad is that Alvin Gentry isn't limited to sticking to the game plan.
If you missed the post a couple months back, check out Seth's link to J-Chill highlights.