On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns will meet in the STAPLES Center for the first time this year in a divisional series that'll last the usual four games. Last year, the two teams had some really fun and interesting games. However, the Clippers pulled out the season series, 3-1, and are looking to keep that going into this season. In the meantime, Dave King from Bright Side of the Sun graced us with his presence and answered the questions that we asked.
Justin Russo: After having a wildly successful season last year in the first year under Jeff Hornacek, what have been the overall expectations for this season?
Dave King: The season was a wild success in terms of preseason expectations, but a real disappointment in the final week when Goran Dragic rolled his ankle real bad and wasn't himself for the three most important games of the season. He missed one and limped through the other two, and the Suns did not have the depth to withstand it. And that was after the Suns barely treaded water without Bledsoe earlier in the year. So they went out and got Isaiah Thomas to make sure they wouldn't be caught short in the back court again. This season, the Suns are more loaded at every position though their best talents are still Dragic and Bledsoe. The Suns should win 50-55 games this year if everything goes well for them. Or, they could regress to the 40-45 range. We just don't know yet.
JR: The HYDRA lineup (Thomas-Dragic-Bledsoe) has only played 14 minutes together thus far this season. Is this something that'll be used more as a novelty or used in a larger role as the season goes on?
DK: Hornacek has always said its a change of pace, only to be used to really screw with the other team (though he uses more neutral words than that). They closed out the Spurs win with the HYDRA, but haven't had a ton of success otherwise. I think they can play together effectively as long as the Suns find the right 4 and 5 to play with them. So far, it's hit and miss (mostly miss).
JR: Last year Phoenix shot 37.2% from three but has struggled to find the groove this year, shooting just 33.7% as a team. There're a few factors that have led to this but what's the biggest factor?
DK: In four of the seven games, the Suns shot 36%+ on threes. There were just three real bad games bringing that average down. The Suns three-point shooting will improve as the season goes on and the sample size gets bigger. We had some early concerns about not getting open shots, but the shots have been there. Guys are just missing them, especially Dragic (25%) who always starts slow and Green (33%) who is very hot and cold.
JR: I've watched Phoenix play a lot this year and always walk away impressed with certain guys every night. From last year to this year, I feel like Alex Len has made a massive leap. Can you talk about what Alex Len has meant to this team thus far this season?
DK: We love us some Alex Len because we are fans of potential. He had one really good game (9 and 10 against Duncan and SA) and a few so-so ones. HIs right hand is his still in a splint, so he's a non-factor offensively as he has trouble catching and gripping the ball. Still, he's a force defensively and generally stays out of trouble while protecting the rim. He's got great potential. We just hope he realizes it.
JR: Lastly, what's it like knowing that you're paying Isaiah Thomas chump change ($6.75 million per year) when he's producing as well as he has been? And can you talk about what's impressed you the most about him?
DK: Thomas has been one of the best signings of the summer and he seems to be adjusting to a back up role on the Suns as the microwave off the bench. And paired with Green they are a potential offensive onslaught together. One guy I know called them the "Chuck Wagon" the other night because they lead the team in chucks per minute and when they're both on they can roll over the competition. On Sunday night, they personally went on a 40-12 run against Golden State (the two combined for 35 of Phoenix's 40 points) in a 12 minute stretch to turn a deficit into a blowout. Thomas, in particular, has been incredible. He's so small yet he can get his shot off against anyone and he's a high quality shooter to boot. He leads the team in scoring and assists per minute and it's obvious why - he always has the ball in his hand and he's a natural at creating points one way or another. I love the guy. Anyone who can produce the offense he produces can lead a "Chuck Wagon" on my team any day.
If you would like to talk with Dave King more, you can head on over to Bright Side of the Sun or even tweet him @DaveKingNBA. As always, be courteous and respectful. Dave's an awesome guy and willing to engage with anyone. Play your cards right and he might even respond to a question posted in the comment section on here.
For my answers to Dave King's questions, head on over here and take a gander.