As the Suns attempt to adjust to new coach Monty Williams’ system and their reformulated roster, they dropped their second preseason game, 105-88, to the Sacramento Kings.
Many of the same issues cropped up as Tuesday’s close game against the Timberwolves. The Suns turned the ball over ad nauseam, racking up 21, though the officials’ insistence on looking for any possibility of a travel hurt them as well. Are other teams’ games being interrupted by travel calls so often, or are the Suns failing to adjust?
Dewayne Dedmon: Already, Dedmon looks like one of those players every fan base wishes played for their team. He’s perfectly malleable and is going to make life a lot easier on Marvin Bagley III this year. Dedmon not only played solid defense against Deandre Ayton, he rebounded really well (11 boards total) and ran the floor. Going from Willie Cauley-Stein to Dedmon is a big upgrade for the Kings based on how they play.
De’Aaron Fox: As I predicted in my preview this morning, the Suns had no answer for Fox. Sacramento scored 17 fast-break points and even off of misses, Fox created easy points by out-running the defense. He also played well defensively, not only swiping steals away but playing impressive help defense.
Just another day for De'Aaron pic.twitter.com/R1WXg6SoMr— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) October 11, 2019
Jevon Carter: I’ll eat my words for at least one night. Carter has been one of my least favorite rotation options for the Suns so far this preseason based on his offensive limitations, but he was awesome on Thursday. Carter went 5-12 for 16 points (including a buzzer-beating three in the third quarter) and was the only guy with enough quickness and physicality to make life difficult for Fox.
Carter’s team defense is high-level. If he can provide anything on offense, maybe he is the right player to fill out the Suns’ rotation, considering their defensive shortcomings across most of the rest of the roster.
Mikal Bridges: Since last year, Bridges has told me several times how big of a focus he was putting on developing his off-the-dribble game offensively. Against the Kings, Bridges several times was able to create shots for himself, including most notably a nice pull-up jumper from the free-throw line off a drive. Just great to see.
The injured guys all played
Earlier on Thursday, Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aron Baynes were all upgraded to probable as they recovered from preseason injuries. They all played against Sacramento and were seemingly part of the regular rotation, not held back much at all. Bridges played 15 minutes, Oubre 19 and Baynes 20.
That meant that at least in this game, Tyler Johnson and Cheick Diallo were each healthy scratches. Norense Odiase once again didn’t play, while Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque didn’t appear until the fourth quarter. Johnson is a lock to be part of the regular season rotation, while Diallo will be the 12th or 13th man most nights.
Williams wants to see big minutes from Carter and Ty Jerome as they battle for the backup point guard spot, which explains the lack of minutes for Johnson on Thursday.
The Suns next play Saturday night in Denver.