Phoenix Suns simplify rotations in Jay Triano’s first game as head coach

Oct 25, 2017, 6:01 AM | Updated: 9:43 am
Phoenix Suns head coach Jay Triano speaks prior to an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Ki...

Phoenix Suns head coach Jay Triano speaks prior to an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, in Phoenix. The Phoenix Suns fired coach Earl Watson and replaced him on an interim basis with Triano. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Jay Triano, Suns Interim Head Coach

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns began the year going small under former head coach Earl Watson, starting both Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren.

Needless to say after the worst three-game start to a season in NBA history, that failed, and interim head coach Jay Triano simplified the team’s starting lineup and rotations in Monday’s win against the Sacramento Kings.

While Mike James in place of Eric Bledsoe was the headline, Marquese Chriss was back in a starting role, moving the rookie Jackson to the bench and giving the Suns a traditional power forward.

The most noticeable part of the changes, however, was how Triano went about bringing players in and out of the game.

Instead of players playing multiple positions throughout the game, which has become the norm in the NBA across certain stretches of the game, every player stuck to one position.

There was no Tyson Chandler-Alex Len twin towers combination like we saw in Los Angeles against the Clippers or the team going small with Tyler Ulis, Troy Daniels and Devin Booker all on the floor at once. Even the minor moves, like Jackson or Warren playing power forward or Chriss playing center were not seen Monday.

That meant Chandler playing 31 minutes at center and Len at 17. Troy Daniels got 19 at shooting guard, meaning Booker played 29.

In terms of the thought process behind it, Triano said Tuesday it’s a matter of the team taking it from the beginning and figuring out what works best along the way.

“I think that’s one of the things that will help us grow is when we can figure out who’s best with who and who can play multiple positions and how to figure out how to get them into different spots,” he said.

The simplification, of course, helps all the younger players for the Suns, something veteran power forward Jared Dudley backed up.

“We’re not there yet because those guys aren’t really capable of playing those positions because they don’t know them yet,” Dudley said. “They don’t know the ins and outs of it. At times, we might be able to match-up on a certain possession late-game or end of quarter, but for the most part, our fours know the fours and our threes know the threes so lets put them in their best [position] to succeed.”

That, along with Triano’s simple and direct philosophy of keeping players in who are playing well can lead to certain nights like starters and more important players having slightly reduced minutes.

“I went over to the guys on the bench and said, ‘usually I’d have you guys in but these guys are rolling and I’m gonna ride ‘em if they roll,’” Triano said. ” That was more of a message to them: You get in and you start rolling I’m gonna keep you playing.”

Chandler likes the change.

“That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he said. “If guys are rolling, you leave ‘em out there. In the moment, they look a little gassed, you get somebody in that’s going to continue to do the job at a high pace.”

He also would add there’s a certain mentality players will have that will keep them working hard.

“And it also keeps it in the back of their head if they don’t (play hard), they’re going to come sit down,” he said.


In their loss to the Clippers Saturday, Jackson spent time at power forward guarding Blake Griffin.

While Jackson thinks he will be able to play power forward in time, he said it was certainly an adjustment.

“Coming into the NBA and trying to play the four and trying to guard guys like Blake Griffin, trying to rebound with DeAndre Jordan, it’s kinda hard for myself,” he said.

Under Triano’s rotations, Jackson and Warren each got 24 minutes at small forward.

Dudley, who has spent time in his career at three different positions, noted that the kinks to work out in moving through positions is usually always on defense more than offense.

When asked where he sees Jackson best, Dudley went a step up, seeing Jackson as more of a small forward-shooting guard combo as opposed to the other way around.

Even with that in mind, he’s still a rookie, and Dudley knows that means keeping it simple.

“He’s just a great defender, he’s explosive with the ball, I think, just get good at that,” he said.

“He’s so good at what he does, he can guard (power forwards) at times, but I think the best thing for him is to play (small forward).”

Penguin Air


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