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Center of the Sun: Are you ready for preseason basketball Phoenix Suns fans?

The 2017-18 NBA regular season is almost upon us.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Tomorrow the Suns will play their first preseason game in Portland. In the preseason, winning isn't really the priority but don't try to tell the players that. I'm expecting the players to go at it hard and we’ll get an entertaining game, win or lose. Two weeks later, the regular season starts on October 18 with the Portland Trail Blazers coming to Phoenix to face the Suns in their season and home opener.

And just a bit over a month after the 2017-18 season begins...

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Fantable Questions of the Week

While we wait for the games to begin, the Fantable is back to answer three new questions.

1. What is your opinion of the Suns' acquisition of Troy Daniels?

GuarGuar: When I first heard we acquired Troy Daniels I laughed for a good 5 minutes, not going to lie. It's funny how the world works sometimes. Putting the "beef" with Book aside, I like this deal. We get a much needed 3pt shooter who could fit well next to Ulis. Don't really see the downside from a basketball standpoint, only a possible locker room issue. I'm sure within the first practice Book shut up Troy real quick.

Sun-Arc: I don't really have much of an opinion on Daniels. The team hedged their bets by bringing on board another shooter, which they need badly. But I hope he doesn't see court time. I'd rather see Josh Jackson or even Derrick Jones Jr show they deserve more court time than Troy. Earl Watson said the player that impressed him the most during camp was Jones - so maybe its a sign he actually will be playing with the team more than I/we thought.

SDKyle: It makes sense I suppose. We sorta needed a backup shooting guard thanks to the injury to Reed, he can fill that role. We needed some shooting, he's good at that. He won't do much for our defense, but whatever.

SouthernSun: I liked the acquisition of Troy Daniels, if only because they at least brought in an NBA player. Somebody who actually is a legitimate backup SG in the league, and didn't just let a parade of g league players and undrafted players battle for the backup spot in training camp. We needed a shooter, they went and got a shooter. I would obviously rather see a little more of a splash over the summer, but at least they made a signing that makes sense.

2. When Ryan McDonough was asked about Alex Len at media day he said, "In a lot of ways you’ll see his role simplified this year, especially offensively" and implied that Len's main responsibilities would be rebounding and rim protection. What do you think of this approach?

GuarGuar: I think it's about damn time we simplified Len's role. We tried for many years to expand his repertoire while he still struggled mightily with mundane tasks such as catching the basketball. Len should basically have zero offensive responsibilities other than offensive rebounding and put backs. Trying to force him touches into the offense is a recipe for failure, as demonstrated by the past few years. I think he could be more effective with this simplified role.

Sun-Arc: I think its a great approach. Though Watson said Len has been aggressive offensively in camp, rolling to the rim and dunking it on PnR's, etc. So, who knows if that is what we'll actually see. My guess is it'll be much of the same as last season on the court with Len.

SDKyle: I've been advocating this approach to Len for two seasons, but I can understand that it made a certain amount of sense to try to squeeze lottery value out of him. But Len is a pretty decent rim protector. He's a pretty good rebounder. He does those things with reasonable confidence and competence, as opposed to the hesitant and awkward way he behaves when saddled with more than basic offensive responsibility. This move strikes me as basically a concession to the reality that Len is a decent but limited NBA player, rather than the special talent the organization had hoped to get when it drafted him.

SouthernSun: I think that this is the correct approach to take with Len. He's shown that he's not a real offensive weapon. He's not consistent enough from the the midrange, he doesn't have all that much of a post game, and he has hands of stone. Telling him to just focus on defending and rebounding, and on the occasional putback and lob pass, is the perfect role for him. If he can improve even more in these specific areas, he may actually end up being a keeper. If not, then we simply won't offer him a contract next summer.

3. What is the most interesting thing you heard from the Suns on Media Day?

GuarGuar: The most interesting thing I heard on Media Day was Jared Dudley talking about Tyler Ulis. He said the gap between Ulis and Eric Bledsoe is significantly smaller. That really caught me off guard, considering how dominant Bled was last year. I hope Dudley is right but he has been known a time or two to exaggerate. Ulis developing into a solid point guard would really bode well for this season considering how poor Knight/Barbosa was last year.

Sun-Arc: Before camp started and before the news of T.J. Warren's contract came out, my feeling was that Jackson was going to win the starting gig away from TJ. When I read how much they were going to pay TJ, I started second guessing. I think the most interesting quotes I've heard so far is how impressed Watson was with JJ in practice and the scrimmage, and how much of a perfect fit he is alongside Booker. Puts me back to where I was before TJ's deal. But perhaps the most interesting quote I read was that Watson said he might actually start Jackson and TJ together and have small ball line ups. I don't take that seriously - they won't start those two at the forward spots - but I do think they will play together quite a bit, which I think has the potential to work well.

SDKyle: For me, it was the various opinions on the next step for Devin Booker. My vote goes with McD for improved offensive efficiency, but I also like Dudley and Ulis' take that his next step is creating for others more effectively. I just had to chuckle at everything Watson said, from the implication that Booker is more talented than Durant (I wish) to the bizarre assessment that Booker's next evolution is based on improving his rebounding. I’ve said many times that all I really need out of a coach is effectiveness, and that's still true... but man. Watson is just weird when he talks.

SouthernSun: The most interesting thing I heard or read was Bledsoe saying Derrick Jones Jr was the biggest surprise of summer league with how much he improved. Could be hot air, but I hope it's true. If he's developed a passable 3 point shot, he could actually be a useful player for us. 3 and D with occasional fun dunks. That's a good player to have on your bench.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable... GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun!

2016-17 Season Highlights

Portland Trail Blazers vs Phoenix Suns November 2, 2016

Preseason Scrimmage Highlights!

Game action starts at the 6:40 minute mark.

Quote of the Week

"I hope a few years from now people will look back and say, 'Hey, they might have been young and there might have been some growing pains along the way but they really grew something special here in Phoenix." - Ryan McDonough

News & Notes

Phoenix Suns look for progress from Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Suns close camp, Jackson earns praise in Prescott Valley scrimmage. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

Suns’ Alex Len understands what he needs to do in re-do of contract year. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Derrick Jones Jr.: Suns’ Most Improved Player.

Suns' Marquese Chriss is aware of what he needs to improve on. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Devin Booker’s rise to superstardom with Suns a matter of when, not if. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

2017 Offseason In Review: Phoenix Suns. Hoops Rumors

ESPO: T.J. Warren Signing More Significant For Suns Than You Think. Greg Esposito/Sports360 AZ

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe could share point-guard duties while on floor. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Suns' Josh Jackson Got It From His Mama.

Phoenix Suns preach patience as training camp opens. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

‘Excited’ to back Devin Booker, Troy Daniels brings shooting to Suns. Arizona Sports

Suns History in Video

How did a gorilla become the Phoenix Suns mascot?

Suns Trivia

For their first eleven seasons, the Suns had no official mascot. There was a short-lived attempt to create one in a sunflower costume but that thankfully didn't catch on and was abandoned.

The Gorilla, or Go as he's come to be known, became the Suns' mascot by pure chance. One night in 1980 a messenger from a singing telegram service showed up at a Suns game dressed in a gorilla costume. Before leaving, he was asked to do dance underneath the basket during a timeout. The crowd loved it and so did the messenger, Henry Rojas, who started attending home games regularly. Eventually he was given a Suns warm-up jacket and invited to be the team's official mascot.

Rojas continued to play the part until the end of the 1988-89 season but, as you all know, "The Gorilla" is still with us.

Previewing the Weeks Ahead

October 3 - Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers (7:00 pm AZ time)

October 6 - Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz (6:00 pm AZ time)

October 9 - Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz (7:00 pm AZ time)

October 11 - Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers (7:00 pm AZ time)

October 13 - Phoenix Suns vs Brisbane Bullets (7:00 pm AZ time)

October 14 - Last day for players on fully non-guaranteed contracts to be waived and not count at all against a team’s 2017/18 cap.

October 15 - Roster limits decrease from 20 players to 15. Last day for teams to sign a player to a rookie scale extension. Last day for teams to sign a player to a veteran extension in certain scenarios. Last day for teams to complete sign-and-trade deals. Last day for teams to convert an Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way contract.

October 17 - Day One of the 2017-18 NBA Season

October 18 - Home Opener! Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers

Last Week's Poll Results

The question was, "Which player - other than Booker - do you think most needs to show significant improvement this season?" The results were:

33% - Marquese Chriss

01% - Tyler Ulis

06% - T.J. Warren

58% - Dragan Bender

02% - Another player

There were a total of 297 votes cast.

This week's poll is...

Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy recently said that to stop tanking he would just do away with the NBA Draft.

"I'd get rid of it, just get rid of the draft altogether," Van Gundy told reporters after practice Friday. "We'd just deal with the salary cap. Make all [rookies] free agents coming in, and if I want to go give a guy $50 million a year, good, but I got to do it under the cap."


Would you support ending the NBA Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    (57 votes)
  • 71%
    (141 votes)
198 votes total Vote Now

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