Starting with the obvious, neither the Phoenix Suns nor the Oklahoma City Thunder cared less about winning the preseason game than getting chance to look at some players before cut down day to a max of 15 per roster.
The Thunder rested Kevin Durant, Nick Collison and Derek Fisher while the Suns rested Goran Dragic (ankle) even though he suited up for pregame shoot-around and looked healthy.
This game was more about getting a look at some guys on each roster. The game was sloppy as a result: 38% shooting for the Suns (23% on 26 three-point attempts) and 38% for the Thunder (10% on 19 three point attempts). The energy vacillated between high and low, and once again Hornacek went deep into the bench by playing 13 of 16 available players.
Even the players who didn't see court time will get their chance tomorrow night, on a back-to-back in the high altitude of Denver. Dionte Christmas, James Nunnally and Kendall Marshall were healthy scratches while Archie Goodwin and Ish Smith got some good run in the second half.
Since the focus of the game was on players, let's review them:
If he could just fix that jumper - he doesn't even get rotation on it - he could potentially be an All-Star type player. Even while going 0-4 on open threes and 1-4 on early midrange shots, Bledsoe still put up 15 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in just 28 minutes of play. His defense on his young counterpart - Reggie Jackson - was good enough to basically shut Jackson down. Jackson got most of his 18 points against diminutive Ish Smith. This was clearly Bledsoe's best game of the preseason.
If he could fix that basketball IQ - being in the right place at the right time on defense and off the ball - he could be a really good player. Hella athlete put down a couple of monster, super-max dunks we haven't seen since the apostrophe left town and made 3 three-pointers in the first half to help the Suns to a big lead. Overall, Green had 15 points in 18 minutes and, while not a great defender, didn't let Jeremy Lamb find his missing confidence.
If he could move that body faster in driving situations - seriously, I could have cooked some eggs in the time it took for him to drive to the basket a couple of times - you might call this one of Channing's best games since coming back from the year and a half out of basketball. He scored, somehow, on those drives, poured in 12 points overall, made a 3 and pulled down 9 rebounds and blocked a shot to help the Suns win the game.
If he could make a corner 3 on a regular basis, he'd be a regular on any team in the NBA. The guy just hustles and so far this year it's contagious. Jeff Hornacek is the third coach in 12 months to find it impossible to sit P.J. down. Tucker played 30 minutes and scored 13 points, had 4 rebounds and 3 steals and a block. A typical Tucker game.
If Archie could make his shots and/or start faster, he'd be a rookie of the year candidate. Unfortunately, his shot is really bad - he twists in the air as he rises off the ground - so he's only a threat to drive/dish at this point unless he goes on a hot streak like in summer league. Still, he picked it up and poured in 11 fourth-quarter points on a steal/FB/dunk, drives and putbacks (one monster putback dunk where he rose over everyone - at least 3 other players - to slam home a Suns miss).
Three-headed center position
If only they could be merged into one, the Suns would be in great shape at center for a decade. Gortat, Plumlee and Len all played well tonight. Gortat had 4 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks in only 17 minutes, while Plumlee hustled to 6 and 3 in 22 minutes and Len grabbed 3 rebounds, blocked a shot and had a nice assist in 10 minutes. Plumlee looked every bit as good, to my eyes, as OKC rookie Steven Adams (12th overall this year) right now - both are hustlers who make their gravy on putbacks and hustle. Plumlee had some nice drives in traffic, but missed several shots at the finish. Len plays with an 'athletic stance', meaning he was on the balls of his feet and ready to move all the time. He moves well in every direction, though right now he moves too much (4 fouls in 10 minutes). His arms are so long, he twice grabbed rebounds in traffic just by outreaching everyone. And, he can box out and finish the rebound with TWO HANDS. He got some quality time and showed good flashes of the future as a quality #5 overall pick. His ceiling is higher than Adams, but Adams is more ready to contribute right now.
If he only had size, and a jumper, and ability to score at the rim, and defend... this wasn't Ish's night.
The Morris brothers were hit and miss. While Markieff was good last week against Sacramento, he went 0-5 before getting ejected in the second quarter for a flagrant-2 foul. And while Marcus was terrible last week against Sac, he had 7 points (on 3-8 shooting), 5 rebounds and an assist and steal in 25 minutes. Good but not great.
(former Sun) Diante Garrett
Hey there Diante! Here's hoping you make the Thunder roster this year, but tonight was not one of your best nights. Garrett had 6 points and 3 assists in 24 minutes, but only shot 2-7 from the field.
That's my recap folks. Read. Digest. Discuss.