LA JOLLA, Calif. — There is, as coaches are fond of saying, competition at every position.
However, when looking at the 2012-13 Suns, there would appear to be only one starting position up for grabs: shooting guard.
The candidates: Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown.
“If you talk about probably the two guys that have played the best in the pickup games, they’re probably two of the best ones really,” head coach Alvin Gentry said. “I think both of those guys are going to to have an opportunity to play and do some good things for our team.”
Dudley is the incumbent.
In his first season as a full-time starter last year, he averaged career highs in scoring (12.7), rebounds (4.6) and assists (1.7).
“I always feel like I’m always battling, ever since I was a little kid. There was nothing ever that was just given me,” Dudley said.
“Obviously, I probably have a step up (on Brown). I know the system. I’ve been here.”
Dudley is the longest-tenured Suns player and one of the few remaining links from the team’s 2010 Western Conference Finals appearance.
“This is a big year,” he said, “just because I think every Suns player probably got a lot of credit due to Steve (Nash). Now, you’ve got to show can you do it without him.”
Brown showed too to be a capable starter last season.
“I would like to start, no doubt about it,” he said. “You look at my stats…every time I started and had extended minutes, I played well.”
Brown averaged 15.8 points in 19 starts, including the final 17 games of the season in place of an injured Grant Hill, compared to 8.8 points in 40 games coming off the bench.
“But I mean if I don’t (start) I can’t pout or nothing,” he added. “I just got to go out and I just got to play my game. I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got every time I step out there.”
A long shot in the race is newcomer Wes Johnson.
“He’s a long guy that shoots it well,” Gentry said. “I think he’ll continue to improve and get better.”
While it would seem Dudley is the favorite to land the starting job, Gentry makes it clear nothing is set in stone.
“We’ll just have to see how it all plays out in the next week or so before we start playing preseason games,” he said. “We’re going to give everyone an opportunity to play and play extended minutes.
“It’s great having that many players that’s fighting for a position that’s pretty talented.”