The Phoenix Suns' offense from the mid-2000s has gained mythical status. Mike D'Antoni's Seven Seconds or Less book explaining the philosophy of the Steve Nash-driven fast-breaking offense ensured that his team, which never made the Finals, would live on forever.
Fast-breaking teams around the league have tried to copy this initial success. Not even Nash though has been able to recreate the magic of those early years under Mike D'Antoni.
The Suns appear to be interested in trying to recapture that offensive magic again this year with a young roster and at the foot of their rebuilding.
Goran Dragic, fresh off a stellar performance for Slovenia at Eurobasket, told Mark Woods of ESPN.com that the Suns are considering a return to the fast-break style that made them a revelation in a slowed-down league.
[New Suns coach Jeff Hornacek] told me he wants to bring back that old Phoenix Suns basketball, up-tempo game, try to create off the dribble and off fast breaks. Probably a little like we play with Slovenia, putting pressure on the ball and trying and play as fast as possible.
Of course, we still have a lot of salary cap. Probably next year, we'll go for big names, one of the superstars. But I think we drafted well, especially Alex Len, the big guy from Ukraine. Then we brought in Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers. So I think we'll play together in the backcourt, me as a 2 or 1, him as a 1 or 2. That will be a good combo for us.
That should be music to Dragic's ear.
First off, Dragic averaged 15.8 points and 4.5 assists per game as Slovenia made good on its hosting duties and finished in fifth place, good enough to qualify for the FIBA World Cup next summer in Spain. The up-tempo style, let alone having the ball in his hands, certainly made a difference for him.
Second off, in his first stint with the Suns, Dragic proved to be nearly as capable as Nash at keeping his dribble alive and mastering the pick and roll. He was averaging close to eight points per game in about 18 minutes per game by the time Phoenix traded him to Houston. And he, of course had that masterful playoff performance against the Spurs. A wide-open offense fits his game better.
Considering the Suns now have a roster that is decidedly younger with Dragic and Bledsoe at the guard positions and the veteran pick and roller Marcin Gortat setting those screens, the Suns could be a roster fit for that breaking style.
Of course, it will not likely be that perfect. Phoenix shot 33.0 percent from beyond the arc last year. The floor will not exactly be spaced with shooters like when Nash was running the offense. It should still be a long year for the Suns. Even if they run it a little bit faster.
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