Even though September is winding down, there are still a few more days to observe one of the month's most important aspects. No, I don't mean the autumnal equinox. No, not Rosh Hashanah, either. It's National Self Improvement Month!
Now, with this being Sept. 26, I could have also framed this story around National Dumpling Day, National Pancake Day, or National Shamu the Whale Day. However, I have no way of knowing which players enjoy pancakes the most or make the best dumplings or have deep-seated fears of one day being dragged underwater and drowned by an angry fish, so until Dave gets around to asking the questions us Suns fans really want to know, this'll have to suffice.
National Self Improvement Month is a time to take stock of oneself and make positive changes that will lead to increased happiness and better quality of life. And no, these changes are not the same as New Year's resolutions; these are supposed to be kept.
In the spirit of this age-old tradition, whose origins are lost to time I'm guessing, I thought I'd help out the Phoenix Suns' players and head coach by suggesting one thing each person could improve upon, just in case they've been too busy preparing for the upcoming season to remember to self improve.
Eric, you need to limit your turnovers. You committed the 12th most turnovers in team history last season, and your assist rate wasn't good enough to compensate for that. The easiest way to tone down those turnovers is to play with your head up more and stop barreling into the paint like a running back breaking through the line. Maybe having a big alley-oop target like Tyson Chandler will help cure some of those ills.
Your shot is NBA quality, but your defense will need to be passable for that to matter. You got beat pretty bad by Sonny Weems in that broken-rim cell phone video a few days back at practice, and you're not yet strong enough to compensate for mistakes with physicality. Just focus on being in the right spots defensively and learn angles. If you can do that, you should earn court time this season.
You accrued 11 technical fouls last season, tying Draymond Green for sixth in the NBA. I know you are a passionate and fiery player, but Phoenix is already pretty set on players who pick up techs. If you could scale that back to Kendrick Perkins territory (7), that would be swell.
Archie, Archie, Archie. Where to begin? I want to say improve your in-between game, but you need a 3-point game before anyone will care about your in-between game. So let's make it easy. You are shooting 71 percent over your first two seasons from the free throw line. Your D-League percentage last season (65.3 percent) was even worse. That's not good for a player who makes his living attacking the basket. Try to up that number to Bledsoe's 80 percent because when you struggle to hit shots from 10 feet out, you should at least shoot a good percentage on shots no one is contesting.
Quit getting hurt. Oh wait, Alex is next. How about you rediscover your 3-point stroke from your Milwaukee days. You were shooting 40.9 percent with the Bucks last season but that fell to a piddly 31.3 percent in Phoenix. This dual playmaker system needs perimeter threats, and it needs you to be one of them.
Quit getting hurt. Okay, now that the obligatory health plea has been handled, I have another suggestion that is more within your realm of control. I would love to see you develop reliable post moves and a jump hook, but you seem more intent on shooting from midrange. I can't argue that a consistent midrange game from you would aid the offense's spacing, so if you must do it, please stop rushing your shot. Shoot it like you do in practice. You know, the way that makes everyone compliment your shooting stroke.
Prepare for a bigger role than you expected. No one knows what the future holds with Markieff Morris, and if that situation does not improve once he gets around his teammates, Phoenix will be in need of reliable power forward play. No one is asking for 15 points and 9 rebounds every night, but an occasional 23 and 9 like you did to Phoenix a couple years ago would be nice.
What is left to be said? I'd say be professional about this situation, but that ship may very well have sailed. So be an adult. Recognize that your selfishness is hurting more than just yourself; it's hurting your teammates. Remember them? Those people who have supported you despite the awkward position it places them in? Yeah, they're trying to do their jobs as well, and they don't need you turning the season into a circus. Oh, who am I kidding? You haven't listened to anyone thus far, so why would you listen to ol' Deadpoolio?
You've shot over 40 percent from the field twice in your career. Make this season No. 3. I'm not asking for a ton, just that when coach Hornacek calls your name, other teams don't outwardly laugh at the thought of you shooting. If you stay within yourself and don't force shots, that should be doable. And remember, this isn't the Lakers. You have passing options here.
Show more fight. You recently described yourself as "scareless" to Paul Coro. Well, Phoenix will need you to be this season. You are undersized for a power forward, but if you are willing to fight for position, box out your opponent, and attack rebounds with a vengeance, the Suns will be able to survive longer stretches with you playing the stretch-four position.
Reclaim the corner three. You shot 41 percent from the corner three in 2013-14, but that fell to 36.7 percent last season as you tried to expand your range around the arc. However, it's more important you be dangerous from somewhere than average from everywhere. There is no problem with you expanding your game, but don't let it come at the expense of what was already working. Oh, and buses. Catch them.
Add a 3-point shot to your game. It doesn't matter if you can only make them from one spot on the court to begin with, find that spot. Once upon a time, having a superb midrange game would have been enough, but today's NBA all but requires you to be able to hit respectably from distance. Don't let that deficiency hold you back. If you need some pointers, talk with Eddie Johnson. He did it.
Make an impact. That means dive on the floor for loose balls, play tough defense, make shots, whatever it takes. Just don't blend into the scenery. At this point, you're nothing more than the new guy from CSKA Moscow, but it doesn‘t have to remain that way. If you do the things that made us root for Tucker when he returned from overseas, you'll be closer than ever to planting both feet in the NBA once more.
Rediscover your inner Jerry Sloan. You said you'd be part Cotton Fitzsimmons and part Sloan when you first took this job, but last year's team needed a swift kick in the butt that the Cotton side wasn't delivering. This year, you have a locker room full of vets who have your back. Put your foot down, and let them all know who's in charge.
Well, that's that. I imagine everyone listed above is now busily taping their parts to the inside of their lockers as we speak. Join us in October when we examine the Phoenix Suns through the lens of Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month, Squirrel Awareness Month, and National Family Sexuality Education Month...whatever that is.