Hedo Turkoglu, for example -- arguably the team's most high-profile acquisition of the summer -- definitely took notice of the unique environment.
"It was the first time for me, and it was fun," Turkoglu said. "It was different in the beginning with the shots, looking into the sky, you know? But it was fun."
What hasn't been fun for Turkoglu in his short time in Phoenix is his fit, or lack thereof, in the team's offense. Specifically, Hedo is struggling to make shots at an almost embarrassing clip through his first three exhibition games with the Suns.
Turkoglu's average for minutes played this preseason is at 21.3 per game, only slightly below his career average of 23.4. Yet his scoring and shooting statistics are way off, with Hedo managing to connect on just 4 of his 21 shots from the field, and only one of his eight three-point attempts. If you're more into the percentages than the raw numbers, that's a horrific field goal percentage of 19, and a dismal three-point shooting percentage of just 12.5.
Remember, this is the Phoenix Suns. Turkoglu isn't being asked to create shots on his own, or put the ball on the floor against a defense keyed on stopping him. This is a team built on speed, getting out in transition, and run at the point by one of the very best in the game. Shots should be wide-open and easy to come by on this team, but for some reason, Turkoglu has been unable to find his touch.
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Predictably, just three games into the preseason, Turkoglu's head coach and teammates aren't exactly hitting the panic button just yet.
"I'm not worried about him," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "I think what's happening with him is the same thing that [Channing Frye] went through a little bit when he first got here. He's passing up shots because he wants to fit in, and one of the things we've talked to him about is that this team is a very unselfish team. If he shoots the ball 10 straight times, no one cares here. But I think he'll figure that out."
It's really not the same situation as what Frye dealt with last season, mainly because Frye was a role-player before coming to Phoenix who had made just 20 three-pointers in total over his first four seasons in the league. With the Suns, he was asked to be a much bigger part of the offense, and shattered his career total from behind the arc after just his third game of the season.
Turkoglu is a player who's been comfortable as one of his team's key components in the past, so his adjustment period, theoretically, shouldn't be taking nearly as long -- except for the fact that Hedo is being asked to play power forward, a position he's never played at anytime throughout his career. And that seems to be the most difficult part.
"The new position is hard, I've never played the four (power forward) in my life," Turkoglu said. "That's the hardest part for me to learn. I've been playing the three (small forward) all my life; sometimes even the one (point guard).
"I'm trying to learn on defense too. On the pick-and-roll I have to show, try to get in front of them, then get back to rebound. So those kind of things wear me down too, because I'm playing the game so physical. Physical guys get physical with me, and I have to do a better job of trying to push them out and not let them catch the ball very close to the basket where they can be really dangerous."
Defense in Phoenix takes a backseat to the offense, so the poor shooting is far more of a concern at this point than where Turkoglu may or may not end up as part of the team's defensive rotations. The Suns want Hedo to just let it fly when he's open, and not worry about the consequences.
Passing up open shots may be fine with other teams. But in Phoenix, doing so is virtually considered to be a mortal sin.
"It's tough -- there aren't very many situations where people beg you to shoot, so that takes a little adjustment," Gentry said. "I think you'll see that eventually, he'll fit in. He's a good player, a real smart player. I think right now he's really pressing to fit in, and he's got to understand that this group right now is so unselfish and the chemistry is so good that he's got to shoot the ball whenever he wants to and he'll be fine."
The hesitation on when to shoot and when to do other things is likely what's to blame for Hedo's slow start. It is a cause for concern, if only because the Suns win games with their blistering offense and their bend-don't-break defense.
For the Suns to finish the season anywhere close to where they did last year, they'll need Hedo to get comfortable, and to get there soon. The team hopes it's a good sign then, that Turkoglu feels that he will -- once he can grasp the nuances of the Suns' offense.
"Those little things in the offense that I have to just learn -- about the spot-ups, about spreading the floor -- then I think I'll have more freedom," Turkoglu said. "I will feel more comfortable playing with those guys, and when they pass it I'll be where I have to be, and just wait, and then catch and shoot. Then I will be more comfortable. But right now, I'm still trying to learn where I have to be and what should I do."