The Phoenix Suns summer league squad made it to the Semi-Finals today when Tyler Ulis snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat with a killer 30-foot three to win over Denver yesterday.
While this is Ulis' world and we are all just living in it, other things are happening around the team that are worth mentioning. Let's go down the list.
Marquese Chriss out for SL
The team hasn't said what kind of illness Marquese Chriss developed here in Summer League - not that they are hiding it or anything - but Paul Coro of azcentral.com did share a couple of tidbits he'd heard.
Marquese Chriss went home to Sacramento. Nothing specific or serious about his illness. He was given antibiotics. https://t.co/plNlsqEjsF— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) July 16, 2016
So it's not a personal issue. Likely, he just picked up a bug. And given he was sent away with antibiotics, it's likely the bug was considered contagious and the team would rather he not infect others.
I'm as bummed as you guys we didn't get to see more of the 30-minute-per-game Tigger. Or MC Hammer. Or whatever we are calling him these days.
Earl Watson making the rounds
I tell you what: I'm not sure any coach in league history has made himself available for more interviews than Earl Watson since signing on as the Suns coach full time.
I remember when Earl first started as the interim last spring. He was hoarse from all the speaking, lamented on his dislike for suits, and appeared quite uncomfortable taking pregame and postgame questions from local media. And this was only with half-dozen of us - at most - in the room. Imagine if he'd taken over a team with a big national profile.
It took weeks for Earl to loosen up and crack a joke or two. Though I do remember a fun story he shared about Hubie Brown taking over as interim in Memphis when Earl was a young pup. He said the players began by acting better than Brown, who'd come out of the broadcast booth to take over midseason.
That was, until Brown laid out reality for them. Watson says Brown's diatribe went something like this (all paraphrases of paraphrases): "Why do you guys think I'm here? Why did I have to leave my family and come halfway across the country to coach your sorry a$$es? Because you're losers! And you got your coach fired for it! So now I have to come in and clean up the mess! So listen up and start playing like you mean it."
Ha! Earl says he began his transformation from self-entitled youngun to committed role player right then and there. Brown took over an 0-8 team and, after a tough year, led them to 50 wins in his second season on the back of Pau Gasol and a bunch of role players.
These days, Earl has found his interview rhythm. He no longer spends the majority of the time harkening back to his former coaches, but rather he's spending his time talking about the future and how he's going to build this "program" in Phoenix going forward.
Watson even interacts with fans and media on twitter (if not others). Check him out. His tweets are mostly inspirational, but it's fun when he joins in convos on things like great 80s movies.
Troy Williams making his case
Back to the on-court hoopla. Troy Williams left Indiana early to enter the NBA, but went undrafted after an up and down year and, apparently, unconvincing predraft workouts.
Here's a quick rundown from DX. Get the whole scouting report that link.
An incredible athlete with great open court speed and a high level of explosiveness, Williams is still developing his on-court skill to match his physical ability. He has good size for a wing at 6'7" but doesn't have a long wingspan at just 6'8. His frame has improved and is up to a strong 218 pounds which he will need to use to his advantage with his relative lack of length.
Williams is most efficient scoring off shots created for him by his teammates either in transition or off cuts from the three-point line. He has an extra gear attacking paint and can finish well at the rim at a mark of 59.2% according to Synergy Sports Technology. Over 52% of his field goal attempts came at the rim according to Synergy with Williams still struggling with his confidence and consistency from the perimeter.
Now he's hooked onto the Suns Summer League squad and is showcasing his considerable athletic skills and potential for good 3-and-D future at the small forward position.
Since Chriss went down with illness, Williams has filled in admirably in two wins. He put up 15 points and 8 rebounds on Thursday, then 22 and 6 yesterday before fouling out. Those points and rebounds were a big part of what kept the Suns afloat before Ulis took over at the end.
He even earned a highlight reel from the great DawkinsMTA!
Williams has a long way to go before becoming a reliable scorer/defender off the bench, but some NBA team would be well served to give the 21 year old the time to develop his skills on an NBA bench.
Devin Booker talks to Hornacek
No, the former Suns coach is not here in attendance to watch and interview his former team. Rather, this is Samsung Summer League Correspondent Abby Hornacek, the daughter of Jeff. She's been a SL correspondent for two years now, and does sports work in California while attending USC.
Now watch 90% of the comments on this article have nothing to do with any of the Suns players or coach...
The Suns play Tyus Jones and the Minnesota Timberwolves this afternoon at 3:00pm in the SL semifinals.