Alvin Gentry 'Maybe' Sticking With Hakim Warrick as Starter
But in the smallest of sample sizes -- just the one game against the Nuggets where the Suns gave up 138 points in a losing effort -- it didn't work out so well. Warrick struggled through a 3-of-12 shooting night, and was maybe his own worst critic afterward, saying via his Twitter account, "Boy did I suck 2night ... I'll def be better next game."
He may be better next game, but he may not get the chance to do so as a starter.
Suns head coach Alvin Gentry had said before making the lineup change that he'd planned to ride it out for a few games, in order to give the players time to adjust to running with their new group of guys. But speaking after the team's practice on Tuesday, when asked if Warrick in the starting lineup was something he was going to stick with, Gentry was less than committed to the concept.
"Maybe," was Gentry's one-word response.
Gentry usually keeps things light, and after there were some chuckles from the assembled media, he jokingly reminded us of how forthcoming he usually is with information. But the "maybe" response was reiterated, meaning that Warrick's time as a starter may already be running out.
"We're just going to keep tinkering with things and see what happens," Gentry said. "I did think that Hedo played well off the bench, and playing as the three-man I thought he felt a little more comfortable. We'll have to adjust and move some things around."
Warrick too talked about adjusting, but for him, it's the need to make changes as things happen, rather than getting the opportunity to do a little advance scouting from the bench.
"Coming off the bench you get a chance to watch and see what's going on, and what's working for us and what's not working for us," Warrick said. "Being a starter, you've got to adjust on the fly a little bit more quickly and set the pace."
The pace was definitely not set by Warrick and the rest of the starters on Sunday, as they allowed Denver to jump out to a 10-0 lead, and didn't score until almost four minutes into the first quarter.
Warrick also mentioned the fact that he's playing against a higher talent level as a starter, and against players that are at the same point as he is from a conditioning standpoint.
"Coming off the bench you're playing against guys most of the time that got their sweat going and are maybe a little bit tired," Warrick said. "So going out there (as a starter) everyone's fresh, everyone's ready, and you've got to try to bring it from the start."
While it wasn't the case in his one game as a starter, Warrick seems to have found his way with this team offensively. As Steve Nash pointed out, Warrick fills an important role that was left open with the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire over the summer, and the early-season knee injury to Robin Lopez.
"Hakim's done a good job coming in and trying to figure out where he can roll to the basket and get easy opportunities," Nash said. "He definitely on the offensive end has found a home, and has filled that role of having somebody dive, because we don't really have a lot of guys on the pick-and-roll who dive to the basket."
On the defensive end, Warrick talked about how being a starter is even tougher, especially given the level of talent at the frontcourt positions out West.
"Yeah, definitely, that's another adjustment," Warrick said. "Especially playing in the West, there's some big guys down there playing the four position. That's another thing coming off the bench, most of the time I'll be playing against the second unit forward or center. So that's something I'm definitely going to have to adjust to."
Warrick will only have to continue to adjust if he remains in the Suns starting lineup. And that's something that is far from a sure thing as the team continues to move its pieces around in hopes of finding a combination that works.