During the second day of training camp, the Phoenix Suns hosted scrimmages, shoot-arounds and playbook practice at the Rolle Activity Center. The NBA season is long and grueling, but Suns players and coaches are hopeful about the team’s progress so far.
According to ESPN, the Suns trio of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr. are aged 22, 21 and 23, respectively. Phoenix’s roster is filled with fresh talent, which can be both an advantage and disadvantage. Suns head coach Montgomery "Monty" Williams said consistency is critical for young players, including Ayton, who is entering his second year in the league.
“More than anything, it’s about being consistent,” Williams said. “With any young player, that’s what you want to see. I’ve said that since day one.”
Devin Booker, who will begin his five year, $158 million contract this season, also said the NBA season requires a specific mentality and preparation.
“I’m still finding ways with my routine and my mental approach to the game, and I’m five years in,” Booker said. “Once we get more comfortable on the court, the game will slow down.”
Booker is the longest-tenured player on the Suns, which means that the remainder of the roster joined the team after him. As he enters his fifth season in Phoenix, Booker has assumed a greater leadership role.
For example, during the offseason, Booker organized a weekended retreat for Suns players in California. The team went out to dinner, relaxed on the beach and played pick-up basketball together. Booker said as professional basketball players, it’s necessary to bond with teammates on and off the court.
“Especially with a new team, your first time meeting up with each other shouldn’t be at training camp,” Booker said. “It’s really important to get to know the guys.”
The Suns tied the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second-worst record in the league during the 2018-19 season. Phoenix won 19 games and lost 63, placing last in the competitive Western Conference. As the number of losing seasons has increased, Phoenix has struggled to find a steady coaching staff. Williams is the Suns fifth head coach in five years.
Despite the Suns’ previous losing records and various coaching staffs, Booker said he is determined to change the viewpoint of the Phoenix-based franchise around the NBA.
“I think we have to change the perception of how the Phoenix Suns are built around the league, and the reputation that we have,” Booker said.
For the Suns to perform and progress, Booker said effective communication is important. Active communication on offense and defense makes the game easier. Through day two of training camp, Booker said he is satisfied with how the Suns are playing as a team.
“It’s easier if everybody is talking to each other, and today was really good with that,” Booker said. “Communication was great on both sides of the ball today.”
Dario Šarić, who is entering his fifth year in the league and first year with Phoenix, also said training camp has been a beneficial experience.
“[The Suns] have good people, good coaching staff and excellent medical staff. I’ve really enjoyed it here so far,” Šarić said. “[Training camp] is the kind of thing that can help us when we go down to the desert.”
The Suns will continue playing and learning for the third day of training camp Oct. 3 .