Part of the excitement with a new season is the hope for the successful integration of new faces in new places. This season the Suns took the new faces angle to an extreme with seven total new players signed to contracts and an additional five hopefuls on the Training Camp roster.
It is not a realistic expectation to think that seven plus new faces will catch on with the new system and the team without a hitch, but with three projected new starters the hitches just need to be minor.
Not every massive overhaul wields the uncanny results of the 2007 Celtics or the 2011 Heat. Sure, this new incarnation of the Phoenix Suns will showcase a lot of unproven talent than usual, which in turn raises more questions than usual.
With all the moves made, who is the most important addition?
There isn't one as two of the stabilizing forces on the roster this year will be the former Rocket duo of Goran Dragic and Luis Scola. They provide a built in chemistry that should pay the most dividends in crunch time when the team needs a basket. Whether it be through the teams patented pick-and-roll or just swinging the ball to Scola on the block to create offense in the post.
The Scola signing is more than a linear move. It that brings value in many ways seen on and off the court.
He is a post player that they can run offense through for the first time since Amare Stoudemire was traded three years ago. His five years of experience playing at a high level provides second year forward Markieff Morris with a stable veteran to learn the ropes of a throwback four. Morris already has the perimeter game, but the biggest knock on him is his lack of presence around the basket, which is where Scola excels.
Bringing that veteran guidance to the team is huge for Scola who over the final 26 games of the season with Dragic as his starting point guard played his best basketball of the season averaging 16.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG.
Dragic is obviously the crown jewel of this active summer bringing hope to the team as his return mirrors the career arc his predecessor. The white knight expectations are a little unrealistic, but hope has to come from somewhere.
Who is the biggest risk and/or reward signing?
The wildcard in all of this is Michael Beasley. He comes over with fellow Minnesota Timberwolves wing Wesley Johnson as the former Top 5 picks fill out the wing for the Suns. No one questions the talent level of Be Easy as one of his teammates touted his ability from scrimmages at Media Day, "when he gets going he can really score." That combined with his excellent size has always been the positive side; however the negative side has always outweighed those positives.
With Beasley's penchant for being a ball stopping perimeter scorer the offense either comes to a screeching halt or becomes more versatile than in resent years.
Johnson gets a second chance with a team he feels he ultimately fits with better, "I have a clean slate and I can just go out and play basketball, have some fun."
If he fits into the role that he seems destined to be as a corner three-point shooter and defensive specialist on the perimeter then he becomes an exceedingly savvy acquisition for management this off-season.
The overall untapped potential of Beasley and Johnson makes them appealing, the same can be said for talented rookie Kendall Marshall. Strengthening the point guard position post-Nash was key explaining the addition of Dragic and Marshall in the same summer under high profile moves.
"Without a doubt he does bring that to the table," said Marshall about the parallels to his and Dragic's start here in the Valley. "He started here and just listening to him talk about how his confidence was very low. He wasn't playing the first half of the season. It is comforting to see that happen to someone before me and know that it is possible."
Were there any irrelevant signings?
With the benefit of hindsight adding journeyman P.J. Tucker and veteran Jermaine O'Neal are going to be more intricate in the team's success than initially thought. Tucker may be the unfortunate beneficiary of a lot of "DNP Coaches Decisions" this year, but his impact in practice will be to push the other wings defensively making them work.
On paper O'Neal provides very little as a 16 year veteran coming off of injury and a long summer of treatment. Now that the team is without its primary back-up four/five in Channing Frye the role of O'Neal will have to expand. The productivity from the four last year was in a word, ghastly. The collective unit was a -4.9 net on the season while the center position held near even with opponents at +1.8 overall.
Mixing these new faces into the system and the line-up is not as simple as putting together a few trades in NBA2K13. Chemistry, cohesion, and more importantly a rotation needs to be established over the course of the next four weeks before opening night on October 31st or the first leg of the season may be representative of the holiday they ironically open on.