It took a second go around with the NBA Champions for it to click for the Phoenix Suns. The "click" did not come in the outcome as the team lost yet again, but it came for the head coach and now there are going to be major changes coming.
After the game Gentry found himself channeling his inner LeBron James talking about the changes that need to happen, and happen soon.
"We have three days before we play so it will not be anything unmutual. We will take one guy, or two guys, or three guys, or FOUR guys out of the line-up and replace them with other guys. How many or what we are going to do I don't know yet, but we are definitely going to do something."
Speculation is fun and easy, but coaching in the NBA is not necessarily those two adjectives when the team is 4-7 on the season.
The team is amid a three game losing streak, getting max effort from the bench, and seeing a clear disconnect from the starters and reserves in terms of passion, energy, and effort. In general reserves are supposed to play harder than starters because the starters are the most talented players on the roster. The reserves are coming in to make an impact and prove they are on the same level as the starters.
In this case, it is that and more.
Other than point guard play every player on the bench has an argument to insert themselves into the starting line-up. Goran Dragic has played well so far coming off of an injury before training camp to be the team's leader on both ends of the floor. He plays all out every play on both ends of the floor which is a testament to his effort as he is 7th in the NBA is steals and 10th in assists per game.
He plays with amazing energy and effort as a starter, which likely stems from his time as a reserve with Phoenix and the Houston Rockets, but that energy generally runs out about midway through the third quarter.
That intense brand of play-making leaves the door open for Sebastian Telfair who walks right through it giving the team everything Dragic does minus the size.
Those two have formed a quality 1-2 punch, but the problem may be that the other positions on the floor have done the same thing, but maybe the roles should be the inverse. In most games Markieff Morris will come out and outplay Luis Scola or Shannon Brown will do the same to Jared Dudley, but again, they are supposed to do that.
Sample size is a major part of this type of discussion. A few years back Carl Landry was one of the BEST players in the NBA according to the PER formula created by John Hollinger. It is a flawed formula, but the fact is it was used to launch Landry into a more prominent role when he was better suited as being a great reserve. Then you have James Harden who is proving he is an All-Star as a starter after being a Sixth Man as a reserve.
Moral of the story is that change needs to happen here, but it needs to be calculated.
The team has three days (or two practices) to figure out the change or the changes before hosting two of the younger, more talented teams in the league next week. Looking at the way the team has played as a whole it would be safe to assume that the bookends of the starting line-up will remain the same in Dragic and Marcin Gortat.
As for the wings and forwards, all bets are off.
Right now Dudley, despite being a leader on this team, he is not performing like a starter. His defense has been solid, not great, and offensively he has yet to catch his rhythm, which is a large reason why the team struggles to score out of the blocks.
The eye test is saying that Michael Beasley is playing better and looks more comfortable playing with the reserves right now. When the second unit comes in and he is the lone remaining starter on the floor he is a different player.
Then you have Scola who is the consummate teammate willing to do anything the team asks him to do and right now he looks lost on offense. Let's table the defensive conversation for another day because offensively Scola has not been the same player of yesteryear unable to finish in the lane or get himself into position on the low block to do what he does best. In this offense he is asked to be more perimeter oriented, which has in turn made him very one-dimensional.
So do you make a move for Shannon Brown, P.J. Tucker, Morris, or even all of them to jump-start the team?
"Our second unit and our first unit play a little bit of a different style and a lot of times our second unit comes in and we are facing a deficit. We try to fight back as best as possible so it is a combination of things where there is not a lot of consistency on how we can do things. It is all sporadic." -- Brown
Whatever the team does they have to factor in the dynamic of losing the great play of the bench to stick a Band-Aid on the wound of the starters. This season Brown has been on fire, but he is lightning in a bottle, do the Suns risk leaving the cap off the bottle too long and losing him, theoretically? Tucker has been great defensively, but when he catches the ball on offense he is looking to get rid of it immediately and his lack of shooting kills rotation passes because defenses do not respect him as a shooter.
Morris has been locked in the past two games making smart basketball plays. Then again he is one good game away from having a bad one based on his career arc.
Any change is going to come with a caveat. Chemistry will be sacrificed in one area to fix another causing a ripple effect across the team that could invigorate great play or create a lack of awareness on the bench, instead of with the starters. Time will tell.