What: Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz, preseason opener
When: 7:00 PM AZ Time
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
The new NBA season is already here! Preseason games began last night, and your very own Phoenix Suns will play tonight against the Utah Jazz.
This game will be Chris Paul’s debut as a Phoenix Sun, along with wings Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore and Ty-Shon Alexander (rookie) and big men Jalen Smith (rookie) and Damian Jones. We may even see newcomer Jae Crowder.
The Jazz return nearly the exact same team that made the playoffs last year. They came up short in the playoffs, but now will return Bojan Bogdanovic (injury) and Derrick Favors (brief hiatus for Mardi Gras).
The Suns will play two games in a row against the Jazz in Utah, in an attempt to reduce exposure to COVID by reducing travel. The Suns will have a few more of these road trip series throughout the year.
Projected Starting Lineups
The Suns will have two new starters this season in lifetime All-Star Chris Paul and swingman Jae Crowder, though Crowder might sit this one out after not joining the Suns until earlier this week (personal reasons).
The Jazz return the same starting lineup as a year ago.
We will not see an official injury report until an hour or two before tipoff.
A recent video from Suns training camp showed all the players except Crowder, who just joined the Suns three days ago after dealing with a personal issue.
In an interview yesterday, Devin Booker said specifically that we would play both Jazz games because the season was too important for him to take rest days for slow ramp up.
Here’s the Jazz status:
Injury report for our first preseason game:— utahjazz (@utahjazz) December 12, 2020
Mike Conley - OUT (rest)
Shaquille Harrison - OUT (right hand fracture)
Royce O’Neale - OUT (rest)
With Conley out for rest, I’m guessing you won’t recognize their starter at point guard tonight. The Jazz don’t have an NBA-level true point behind Conley, and I don’t see them stretching minutes for Jordan Clarkson, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles for the playmaker duties like they did last year.
A common theme from media sessions the last two weeks is that these Suns are hungry and focused and get along very well with each other. All those are very good signs a tight-knit group of good people.
On ‘The Old Man and the Three’ podcast this week with JJ Redick, Chris Paul lauded the signings of Galloway and Moore in particular because they have such good reputations around the league. Paul also gushed about everyone else on the team from coaches to players to James Jones — give it a listen when you can.
Another theme is that the new players don’t know everyone all that well yet because there wasn’t that few weeks of voluntary pickup going on like usual. The other day, Deandre Ayton said he hadn’t even been on CP’s team yet in five-on-fives, which just started this week.
Don’t expect miracles tonight. Just be happy that the best point guard since Steve Nash is running the show for your Suns.
They basically decided to run it back after a 44-28 season.
The Jazz season goes as Donovan Mitchell goes this year. He made his first All-Star game last year and is still improving. He is less efficient than Devin Booker and doesn’t pass as well, but is an All-Star level on his scoring alone. Rudy Gobert also made the All-Star team last year, mainly for his defense (and reputation from prior seasons).
Just last week, the Jazz signed erstwhile fan favorite Shaquille Harrison for their guard rotation, but he unfortunately is already out with a broken hand.
I don’t have any more updates on the Jazz.
We don’t need to make preseason predictions. I expect it will just be fun to watch the Suns play basketball again.