Mark this day down folks. There was the first Media Day without Steve Nash in nine years. Check. Then the first training camp without Steve Nash in nine years. Check check. Then the first intrasquad scrimm... you get the drift.
Today, we had the first official team practice without Steve Nash (on the roster).
The Suns are finding their way to a new offense, one that is not centered around Steve Nash for the first time in nine years. There will be more screen-and-cuts, more passing out of the post, more time with the point guard playing off the ball.
The other day, Jared Dudley commented on the new offense to Paul Coro of azcentral.com.
"It's an IQ offense where it's cuts and reads," Dudley said after the scrimmage on Saturday. "It's not one person, ‘Hey, Jared, the ball is going to you.' I think we had one or two plays for me and that's just because I got hot. For the most part, it was just reads and me getting open. If you work hard and cut and set good screens, you're going to be the one who's open. I wish we could've had this with Steve (Nash)."
I repeat that last line: "I wish we could've had this with Steve (Nash)."
After Suns practice today, I had the opportunity to ask Alvin Gentry what he thought of Jared's comment.
"We did fine with Steve here, okay?," he said, his voice turning to steel in the face of the new guy with the iPhone, "I'll listen to anything, but I won't listen to anything about our offense (with Nash). If you go back, we were first, first, first, third and then fifth (in the NBA). Two straight years we led the league in scoring, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists.
"So, if somebody wants to change that then you should talk about changing Miami's offense too. Okay? So we'll leave it at that. All right?"
Gentry on the players so far:
- "[Scola]'s a very good high-post passer. The guy has a real good feel where guys are going to be, and he himself knowing when to cut and when not to. He and Goran both are good at that. JD (Jared Dudley) has picked it up well, and some other guys have picked it up well too."
- Goran Dragic practiced well today. A little sore, being his first time out, but he did some good things. To me, Dragic wasn't limping at all. He looked as fast and loose as he ever has.
- Shannon Brown bumped heads with another player. He got some stitches and missed the end of practice.
- Markieff Morris' improvement can be traced to having a full offseason with the training staff.
- Guys are still trying to figure each other out, knowing where and how guys like to play.
- As a team, they have to get in better basketball shape*
*At the end of practice, the Suns run a full-court layup drill where they had to make 40 layups on each end of the court with only two live basketballs that weren't allowed to touch the ground. Just four guys rotating as passers getting the ball back and forth to sprinters. Tough to describe, I guess, but it was impressive to me how fast these guys can move. They had to run it three times before getting to 80.
Other thoughts from the open part of practice:
- Wes Johnson really does have a smooth stroke, and nearly all of his shots went in. He reminds me of Wesley Person a little bit. Maybe it's just the first name.
- Markieff Morris really is aggressive this year, as reported. He still didn't finish all his attempts under the basket, but he was working really hard
- Jermaine O'Neal looks fast and free, not favoring any knee or injury of any kind. He could be a real good pickup.
- Michael Beasley stands out as a really talented, smooth player. He is not the fastest, quickest guy out there but he really knows how to play
- Lots of guys were talking on defense, and O'Neal in particular got mad when the other side scored on his team inside. Jared Dudley appeared to be the most vocal.
- Kendall Marshall is a pure passer, but had some bonehead turnovers. He made few open shots too.
- Luis Scola is a good player who just gets the job done.
That's all I got.