Ever since John Paxson.....
You know what, screw it. I can't even finish that sentence. Next up for your Summer Suns in the 2015 NBA Summer League tournament is the Chicago Bulls. Winner gets to play Sunday. Loser leaves Vegas.
A win over Chicago and the opportunity to play on Sunday will rely heavily on the performance of T.J. Warren. Warren has been a strikingly efficient hoop filler through four games. The Suns' Summer League leading scorer has averaged better than 20 points per contest and is shooting just shy of 57% from the field. Coach Nate Bjorkgren talked about Warren's shooting after Thursday's win over Milwaukee.
"He has a real ability to score that ball. You saw tonight in the second half, he cuts to the right place, he has a great nose for the ball. He has a great read on knowing when to cut and when to hold and also tonight he had 4 assists. So not only was he getting to the paint to create for himself but he was creating for others.
Just as in other games, when asked about scoring Warren addressed his primary focus of summer league. Defense.
"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive, the coaches have been stressing a lot of defense. We just wanted to get out on the defensive end and get into our opponents and make them feel uncomfortable."
"Just trying to focus in on the defensive end. Offense is always going to come. I just want to become an all around two way player, and just keeping toning up my defense as well as my offense."
That defense will be critical against a Chicago team that features it's own high volume scorer in Doug McDermott, as well as Tyrus McGee and and first round pick Bobby Portis. Portis and McGee have combined to hit 17 of their 32 three point attempts.
"In the second half there (against Milwaukee) we picked it up on both ends and we keep telling these guys so much, it's our defensive intensity which is what creates our offense," Coach Bjorkgren said.
Phoenix will counter with its own first round draft pick, Devin Booker. Like Portis, Booker's week in Las Vegas has seen peaks and valleys, but his progress in Las Vegas has been undeniable. T.J. Warren talked about the importance of Booker's ability to score the basketball.
"Devin is a tremendous basketball player, he has a knack for scoring as well, and he can really shoot the basketball. I know it's a confidence booster for him too, to be out here and showcase what he can do, and prove that he's ready to be here."
Coach Bjorkgren remarked on Booker's growth.
"He keeps growing everyday. He does. He's a threat out there. All the little parts of the game. Defensively, I thought his ball pressure and his physical play against those guards in the second half changed the game. We started to get into the body a little bit more and playing him more physical and you saw him run out to those corners and knock down a couple corner 3s so he's doing a nice job."
Looking foward, Booker talked about the offensive opportunities he'd like to see with the Suns.
"In transition that'd be nice. I know with players like Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight those looks will be wide open for me. I'm out there to space the floor for them, so they can have angles to attack, so however I get it, I like it."
Phoenix and Chicago tip off from the Thomas and Mack Center at 5:00p PT on Saturday.