For a team who wants to push the pace all throughout this season, there has to be a point of reconciliation for a team who just had 31 turnovers in a preseason game. And luckily it is only the preseason because the Suns seem like they still have some kinks to work on before Portland comes to town for the regular season opener on October 18.
Even without Rudy Gobert, who simply was off resting, Utah seemed to have their way with Phoenix as far as pressuring them into easy mistakes.
“I would say they were being more aggressive on our ball reversals. Our post wasn’t there. They were more aggressive,” Watson said. “With younger teams, it’s going to be a physical game, so in order to get the ball reversed, we have to be physical, open up, push off, and get the ball into our offense. They took us out of our offense immediately.
From the early part of the first quarter on, the Suns seemed unenthused and simply gassed for some reason. There were some flash plays, albeit few, in this game, but with how young this roster is this season, it will truly be about progressions forward as Watson mentioned multiple times throughout Monday night’s postgame press conference.
Devin Booker, who has led the Suns in assists through preseason thus far, mentioned that it will take time for them because of this roster includes six players 21 and under (Booker, Jackson, Chriss, Bender, Ulis, Jones Jr.). Experience will come in this league for them to take steps forward, they all still need some more seasoning.
Booker even discussed a team who had vast amounts of experience in comparison: the San Antonio Spurs.
"I don't think we have that team yet. You know, to give it to a certain player and then give it to another player, take our time," Booker said. “We're not the Spurs. We're not going to be the Spurs. That comes with experience, time spent. The game slows down once you spend a lot of time in the league and none of us have been in the league a long time. So, we just have to learn, play fast, be the aggressor, create turnovers, not the ones turning it over."
With how sloppy Phoenix has been in the turnover department, rookie Josh Jackson still continues to draw praise from his new teammates and coaches. Jackson finished with 7 turnovers last night and has averaged 5.7 in their first three contests.
Watson has been known to throw out some comparisons, he made known Jackson could be a Kawhi Leonard type on defense back after they selected him, but this time he mentioned their No. 4 pick to last year’s MVP winner.
“He reminds me a lot of Russ (Russell Westbrook). Russ’ rookie year," Watson said. “Very exciting to watch, shooting the ball great from three, which we know that could eventually happen, it’s before we thought it would happen. Sometimes, like Russ, it leads to turnovers. So he reminds me of Russ, but his future is bright. Want to encourage him how to see the game, he moves so fast he needs to slow down and make decisions.”
Watson has cited all throughout the summer, including general manager Ryan McDonough, how they want to pick up the pace, even more, this season. With youth on their side, they plan to try and outrun teams led by speedy floor runners in Marquese Chriss and Jackson. However, with nights like these, their youth showed it’s head in a negative way as they couldn’t handle Utah’s defense and took them out of rhythm completely.
Do the Suns plan to slow it down a little more if they want to avoid these types of performances on a regular basis, especially against the NBA’s elite? They plan to find that common ground between too fast and too slow, but it’s going to take some more time to mold this clay that is the Suns’ young core.
The front office has hedged their bets on it succeeding, now it’s all about the waiting game for when it finally clicks.
Booker, who saw a lot of run as the point guard in pick-and-roll actions with Alex Len and Chriss on Monday, does have a preference when it comes to a playing speed though.
"We have to find it, but right now, I'd rather be playing too fast than playing too slow and having the turnovers that we had tonight."