Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Seeds are being planted for game-by-game for the Phoenix Suns as they begin to figure out how to win games rather than how not to lose them.
Identity is a term thrown around a lot in sports early in a season as teams try to determine who they are and what theirs is. In life that happens just the same as in sports it happens. As the season gets into its first leg the Phoenix Suns are no different as they try to establish what they want to do on the court.
The pre-season is not a tool to identify an identity as there are numerous players on the roster that will not be in the rotation and coaches are looking to see if they should even make the team.
Through two games the Suns do not know everything about themselves, but they are ruling out a few things they cannot do which is slowly revealing the way they are going to have to win games. This is not a very good shooting team from a purity standpoint. That was established early on as at home they shot a combined 6-32 (18.7%) from three, at home.
Home is the sanctuary where shooting slumps come to an end because of the comfortability of the arena and lack of a chorus of boos directed at them as they shoot. Not for bad shooting teams.
With that not being a style the team can lean on -- as they did so heavily in the past -- they are going to lean on the play of Goran Dragic and being a tough, scrappy team. In two games so far this season Dragic has become the barometer of the Suns averaging 16 PPG and 9 APG through two games so far.
After Friday's win over the Pistons it was a concert of praise for Dragic as he for a second straight game put his team in a position to win a tough game. Only this time, they closed it out together, with him. When the final buzzer sounded you didn't have to even say his name for his teammates to credit the fifth year point guard for their play.
"That is Goran Dragic," said Marcin Gortat after the game. "He is a crafty defender that does not back down. It is all Goran. He is doing a great job on the defensive end and pushing the ball offensively."
"I thought Goran was great," head coach Alvin Gentry continued the praise. "Once again he created a lot of open looks and we basically just have to be able to knock down shots."
The praise for the emerging point guard was very warrented as he is slowly becoming the straw that stirs the team. They go as he goes, which starts with the scrappy defensive play that has limited opponents to 88 PPG, 13.5 turnovers per game, 30% shooting from three, and harasses perimeter players all game.
Offensively they are not flashy, but do just enough to be in games down the stretch as the defense is beginning to dictate the pace on both ends of the floor spearheaded by Dragic and complimented by the energy of the bench.
"In this league you have to do more than score," said Jared Dudley after the game about team defense. "If I can have two points and (Rodney) Stuckey only has two points it is an advantage for us."
That style is something the team is going to lean heavily on as they have no true superstar player. This is a collection of players that is still learning how to play together so being scrappy and toughing games out on the defensive end is the way they are going to have to play consistently to be a good, potential playoff team.
In team sports you learn a lot about yourself on the road which is exactly where the team is headed virtually all next week making stops in Orlando, Miami, and Charlotte over a four day three game trip into the south eastern region.
"Some teams play different, especially young teams play different on the road," said Dudley about the team heading on the road. "Guys get sped up on the road and take quicker shots so you have to be more patient. You have to be a good road team to make the playoffs so hopefully we can start off this road trip right.
Time to learn even more about this team over the next week as they leave the comfort of home for the first time in nearly two weeks enduring the grind of hotel rooms, visiting locker rooms, and less than friendly confines on their first road trip.