Suns eager not just to play, but to play well in new uniforms

PJ Tucker and the Suns are excited about the new uniforms, but they’re even more eager to play well in them.

The wait is over…for fans, anyway.

As for the players, the ones who will sport the Suns’ new threads, their excitement over the new look is rivaled only by their eagerness to play well while wearing them. Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, Caron Butler, Archie Goodwin and PJ Tucker were impressed with the new look. They were impressed by the fans that came to see it.

After catching up with them after the show at Fashion Square Mall, it was apparent they’re just as ready to impress right back in the upcoming season. Nevermind that it’s the middle of August. For different reasons, each of the five weren’t talking like they’ve got plenty of vacation left.

Eric Bledsoe has a boatload of optimism, prompted by his untapped talent, behind him. Frankly, he’s eager to see that part of his career…well, behind him. He’s ready to fulfill that potential, which he’ll do in the Suns’ new threads. His summer has been, in one word he supplied, “work”.

“I’m trying to get better, even better than i did last year coming off the bench,” Bledsoe said. “[I'm] trying to increase that 10 times more, trying to come in and have a big impact on the game.”

There’s No. 5 overall pick Alex Len, who between rookie orientation and surgery rehab hasn’t been as visible as the other new summer arrivals. It had to be unintentionally torturous to walk around without a boot, don a jersey…and still not play.

PJ Tucker’s summer has been the opposite of Len’s. The 28-year-old veteran volunteered for Summer League duty. He’s hit the practice court as hard as anyone can, working with head coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff to hone his 3-point shot.

In an improved look, Tucker is hoping he’ll show off an improved stroke from outside.

“I can’t be content with where I finished last year,” Tucker said. “I’ve got to try to make the team better by working on my game.”

Goodwin now has another jersey to his collection that started as a kid (hey, he’s turning 19 on Saturday). Like the fans, he’d been waiting for his first real pro jersey, especially after being forced to don practice versions while other rookies sported their regular uniforms at orientation last week.

As excited as he his for this offseason milestone, he’s even more amped to answer the hype that has built since his scintillating Summer League performance.

Finally, Butler tackled Thursday’s unveiling the same way he’s done everything else this summer: taking it in stride, enjoying the moment.

After a summer of quality time with his five kids, he’ll be getting back to taking care of his teammates, which in truth are kids compared to the 11-year veteran.

Suns fans may have thought the wait ended Thursday on the walkway. Just know that the team is just as eager to follow up with an even better performance on the hardwood in a couple months.

Wake me up when August ends (and what we’ll look for when it does)

A dead time in the NBA world, August leaves us waiting on the stories we want to see unfold.

Our good friends at Dictionary.com describe “august” as “inspiring reverence or admiration; venerable; eminent.”

That being said, there’s nothing august about August when it comes to basketball.

August, especially the beginning of the month, is boring. It’s the yearly equivalent to a South American siesta. Nobody’s home.

Rookies Alex Len and Archie Goodwin are wrapping up NBA orientation week. Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat have national team obligations. Other guys are working out and/or playing away from 201 E. Jefferson during the dead window between NBA Summer League and team workouts.

In short, it’s a huge hoops voide that feels longer due to 1) the eagerly anticipated offseason changes that took place off the court and 2) the results of those changes that can only be measured on it.

The moratorium will end. Players, starting with Len and Goodwin, will start trickling into US Airways Center for informal workouts. We’ll start getting an idea behind the intrigue of everyone new to Planet Orange.

Among the many pending storylines, here’s a few this committee of one is sick of waiting to see:

1) Position competition. Jeff Hornacek has repeatedly stated that training camp and rotation decisions will be an anyone-goes affair. Young guys drool over that kind of opportunity, and the Suns are mostly a young team. How intense will practices get? Will Hornacek actually have to calm things down at one point? And will he be able to keep from smiling while he’s doing it? Either way, it’s hard not to look forward to each starter truly earning his spot before all is said and done.

2) Bledsoe unleashed. “Potential” and Bledsoe have been mentioned in the same breath for young guard’s entire career. With more opportunities than ever now available, how exactly will that talent unfold? High scoring? Better playmaking than anyone knew about? Unprecedented defensive numbers from the guard position? Nobody knows (yet), but finding out can’t come soon enough.

3) Rookie impact. Alex Len (20) and Archie Goodwin (almost 19) are the youngest of the young. That being said, Hornacek has indicated that both will figure into the team’s game-to-game picture this season. Workouts and practices are where impressions are made, impressions that solidify or alter the coaching staff’s plans. Will Goodwin continue to impress against better competition? Will Len show off the skill set that had Phoenix high on him in the first place? If the answer to either is “yes”, then it will only strengthen Suns GM Ryan McDonough’s offseason momentum in the public eye.

4) The over-under on practice dunks. My man Greg Esposito already pointed out this year’s Suns roster has unlimited “anarchy” potential. Between Gerald Green, Shannon Brown, Eric Bledsoe and Archie Goodwin, midair collisions might be a real concern if Goran Dragic ever has two or more of that quartet on his squad.

New threads will represent new era under Suns’ next star

When Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len and other Phoenix Suns take the stage at Fashion Square Mall on Aug. 15, they won’t just be showing off the Suns’ new threads.

In a real way, they’re also auditioning to be the face of the #NewLookSuns.

Remember when the Suns underwent their first big overhaul in the clothing department? Of course you do, assuming your eyes and memories functioned in 1992.

[Read more...]

For McDonough, Seeing is Believing

In the world of the “information superhighway,” everyone with a keyboard, an internet connection and the ability to spell Wikipedia or YouTube, or at least get it within a few letters, can find information, trivial or otherwise, that they’re looking for in an instant. Everyone, with the touch of a button — or is that a screen now — can feel as if they’re an expert on any subject.

The problem is, in a world where everything is available in an instant, there is still no substitute for actual, real-world experience. Enter Ryan McDonough.

Although only beginning his first season as the man holding the reigns of an NBA basketball operations department, McDonough is no stranger to hard work and even harder scouting of the most obscure talent. For years he has scoured the globe gaining first-hand knowledge of players starting at a young age. [Read more...]