After watching 48 minutes of action between two teams built the same, but traveling in two different directions it became clear that the Phoenix Suns have a lot of non-basketball related issues they need to resolve to snap this skid they find themselves in.
As I sat in my normal seat for the for every game in section 102, row 24 -- assigned for the media -- I was able to overhear a conversation between two wise, sage Phoenix Suns fans. The two ladies were chatting all throughout the third quarter they kept stating that "O'Neal" was killing the team. Poor turnover, bad shot, missed defensive assignment you name it and to them it was "O'Neal's" fault.
The problem with that was Suns center Jermaine O'Neal did not play one minute in the third quarter.
That is when it donned on me: Not only do the fans not know the players identity, but the team itself does not know their own identity thus the poor play and lack of effort when things get tough. This team collapses when things get tough on the court. Personality wise the team is malleable to the situation and some games they conform to the identity of their coach, others to their energetic bench, and then at times to the casual lackadaisical demeanor of Michael Beasley.
Against Orlando, and for the most part during the losing streak that reached seven games last night, the team seemed out of sync and without energy.
Energy is infectious and can overwhelm the team because they do not have a dominant personality to counter act the apathetic way Beasley carries himself on the court. On pure talent Beasley is a special player, but he can become disconnected and disengaged from the team at a moments notice leaving the team without a serviceable basketball player on the wing. The switch can flip at any time and based on any number of criteria depending on the situation. That is who Beasley is.
The same can be said for Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat, and Goran Dragic. All of those players have a more laid back, calm personality that is comes across generally not comfortable to take over a game when needed. It is just not in their DNA.
With that the team needs to get on the same page and adopt a personality of their own in order to have that comfort level on the court during tough times. Gentry has put his fingerprints on the team and he has been around these players long enough for them to know his personality. This is simple in theory, complex in thought, and fragile in execution because a team can be fractured if the wrong personality is applied.
Fans know these things. From the outside looking in they can get the feel for who is the leader, who is the problem, and who needs to bring it on a game-by-game basis. They have very little information at their disposal, but one thing is for certain, the fans of the Suns have their fingers on the pulse of the team so far this season.
Those two ladies were clearly casual fans so I am not blaming them for referring to Diante Garrett and others as "O'Neal," but in a vacuum that has been the problem for the team right now.