The Phoenix Suns have a number of issues. They are not close to competing on any level in the NBA’s Western Conference. An already long road will only grow longer, and today there is no end in sight.
For these reasons it is imperative that if the casual fan is going to stay even mildly invested in the once proud franchise, we’ve got to amplify the positive moments, however few and far between they may be.
Suns’ head coach Jay Triano said some things Tuesday morning that the Phoenix faithful will want to hear. On 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf show he talked about the progress rookie Josh Jackson has made this season, and how he just may be the kind of employee the Suns are looking for.
“Number one, showing up on time,” Triano said. “I mean, we had major issues with him and that’s one of the reasons we sat down and talked. I’m a firm believer that the discipline off the court translates to discipline on the court. I thought Josh had none early in the season. That was a big part of it. ‘Who are you going to be as a professional? How are you going to approach this profession?’”
“We’ve seen a huge change not only in that. His work ethic in the weight room, his work ethic everywhere from that day forward has been fantastic, and we’ve seen a translation. We don’t hold back in reminding him that, you know, ‘Ever since you kind of changed how you approached the game, the way you have played has changed as well.’”
We live in an era where teams deliberately alienate gigantic swaths of their fan base and construct toxic losing cultures in an often ill-conceived attempt to turn losing into winning and then hope those fans return. I know a lot of you guys dig it. I can hardly tolerate it. I do love hearing stuff like this, though. Winning starts with the things Triano is talking about, not with advanced metrics.
“I challenged him last week, how great can you be the rest of the year?” Triano said. “His eyes light up. He’s looking forward to the challenge. That’s the one thing I really like about him. He needed to figure out what this league is about. Some people, it takes a lot longer. He figured it out real quick.”
Jackson’s numbers recently have been good. But chill. Plenty of people are going to try and get you too jazzed up over a few weeks of stats. The Suns are playing for nothing against teams that can allow Phoenix a player to have a monster night without consequence.
With that said, the numbers aren’t bad. And if you’re the Suns, anything that’s not bad is good. He’s getting more minutes and he’s making the most of the opportunity.
A 40% shooting percentage and 11.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game before the All-Star break has turned into north of 46%, 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Kudos to Triano for acknowledging that there was reason to worry about Jackson early in the season. And there’s still reason to worry. But things are trending in the right direction.
“What we’ve seen as the season has progressed here is a guy that’s on a steady incline. I think everybody had doubts, us included. ‘How are we going to reach this kid? How are we going to get through to him?’”