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June 21, 2021

Monty Williams

Phoenix Suns

Practice Day

Q. A two-part question. Is there any new clarity on Chris?

MONTY WILLIAMS: There's no update on Chris. Nothing's changed.

Q. Second thing I had, on Devin and Deandre specifically, what's stood out to you this season as far as what their day-to-day routine is like?

MONTY WILLIAMS: Book's pretty steady with his work. He gets his body work in, the weight room stuff. He's always been diligent about that. I think he has a really nice setup at his house. I haven't seen it, but I've heard about it.

D.A. has learned, like most young guys do when you come into the league, there's just a lot more details to the work and a lot more stuff involved as far as pre-practice stuff, post-practice. It's a lot, but you get used to it over time. So that's been the thing that he's consistently improved after we had a number of conversations. It wasn't like he was a bad worker, but just feel like he has kind of the ability that if he puts in the kind of work that I've seen guys with his kind of ability put in, he can be a dominant player.

He knows that it takes a lot to be really good in this league, and he's the guy that's willing to do all the extra stuff. We just want him to be the best version of himself.

Q. Obviously, the guard play was fantastic yesterday. They were really getting into the paint, and it seemed to open things up for Deandre. How much easier does it make it for Deandre to get in space and get those easy buckets he was able to get when your guards and the rest of the guys are penetrating the way they did yesterday?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think we're like most teams in the league; we want to try to touch the paint as much as we can. It helps everybody. It helps the bigs. It helps the shooters on the outside. The decision-making by the guards yesterday was at a really good level. We hope to be consistent with that and continue to improve the spacing around those paint touches.

I've been pretty consistent all year about D.A.'s ability to generate offense when he's diving and putting pressure on the rim.

Q. Coach, just a couple things just to follow up on the question about Chris. The FaceTime that you guys had with him and him being in a good space and being excited -- and there was reports that he's not showing any symptoms of the virus; I'm not asking you to confirm that. What I'm asking is what's it like seeing him in that spirit and knowing that he's well and he's feeling good despite not being able to be with you guys?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I think a lot of it was because we won the game for sure. He was excited about that. It's always good to see his face. I just think it was based on the fact that we were able to win the game. So everybody was in that winning game mood, obviously, and he and I have talked every day about our team and what we're seeing in other playoff games and just trying to improve.

So we did that with Ty-Shon when he wasn't with us in L.A. We just try to make sure we keep everybody in the fold. We're not family, but we try to act like we're family. So that was just a way to keep him locked in.

I'm not quite sure if he called or somebody else called him, but when I walked in, he was on FaceTime. So he became a part of the locker room.

Q. I kind of have two and they're sort of related. Was there a pivot point moment in your time with Devin where you saw him go to another level, or has this been a natural progression for a guy who works hard? Secondarily, maybe related, how much did that bubble experience last year for you guys set the stage for this, to go there when there was maybe some hand wringing about whether or not you guys should be included, to kind of go there and build some momentum for this year?

MONTY WILLIAMS: I don't know if there was a moment. I had been watching Devin before I came to Phoenix, just because we watch different players around the league. Sometimes you can overlook a guy because he hasn't done what everybody thinks he should do, but when you're a coach and you have to scout and you have to prepare, you see every player in the league. So I watched him closely for a while.

I think my first eye-opening experience was when he was with the USA team. He was on the select team, and you could see that he wasn't afraid of going against the top guys. He actually stood out during that camp that week, and I was a coach during that time, and you could kind of see why this guy's different.

Then with the bubble experience, I said it last year, outside of the teams that either won the championship or competed for one, we had the most to gain because a lot of people thought we shouldn't have been there. For us, it was like a third training camp for us. We had the preseason training camp and then we had the madhouse training camp, and then we got to go to Orlando and have another training camp, so we were able to continue our program. Then we were just fortunate enough to play well and win a lot of games and built a ton of confidence.

Mikal and Cam, D.A. -- Cam Payne, J.C., all of those guys were put in situations where they had to show and prove every day, and Book played some of his best basketball there. So we grew as a program for sure when we were in Orlando.

Q. When you watch back the film, for you guys defensively, how did you assess the way you guys defended, specifically with the amount of switching you guys were doing?

MONTY WILLIAMS: We were solid in some areas, and in some areas not so much. We gave up a few corner threes that we wanted to try to stay away from, but I thought the physicality that we showed was decent. As I said yesterday, Jae and Mikal and Cam and Torrey and Book, those are all like-sized guys, so anytime we can use that to switch, it just keeps the ball in front, and you don't have to get into rotations.

But that's no different than any team. That's why the Clippers do it. We still see areas where we can improve, but we really have to close out to their feet, especially the shooters, and they have a lot of them. We talked about that today. There was a lot of will and just energy out there on the floor. Even when something broke down schematically, I thought the will of our players, especially to pursue rebounds, was really good.

As a coach, you're always looking for some sort of edge in an area where you can improve so you can get that much better. We talked about a few of those things today.

Q. Kind of lost in everything from yesterday was the fact that James was named executive of the year. So I was just curious to get your reaction to that first.

MONTY WILLIAMS: It was pretty cool. I was happy for him and his family. He's a big reason why we're having this success, because of the team he's put together and the character of the players and the talent that he's assembled. Just happy for him.

He's changed this thing in a short period of time, and he and I both, we're not satisfied, but we're constantly talking about how we're so blessed to do what we do and be a part of this because of the people that we get to work with.

I was walking out on the floor, it caught me off guard because I didn't even know. I just heard it as I was walking onto the floor, so I just started clapping. I was just happy for him and happy for his family and to see his kids out there, that's pretty cool. To do it in front of our fans, I know it had to be a thrill for him. He won't admit it, but I'm sure he was close to tears yesterday. I thought it was pretty cool. I think I've said "cool" enough in this segment, but I thought it was cool. Don't you think that's cool?

Q. Monty, obviously Book had a triple-double, 40 points, but how hard is it to do that and then play pretty good defense for 44 minutes? And kind of along those lines, do you feel like he gets enough credit for playing that type of defense along with carrying all that on offense?

MONTY WILLIAMS: No, I don't. I've said it a number of times; he's not like a lot of these guys who just score. He defends. He understands defensive concepts at a high level. He doesn't back down from a matchup. We put a lot on him defensively. There's games where Book is guarding the point guard, he's guarding the primary ball handler, and that's a lot when you have to go back on the other end and score.

His conditioning is about as good as I've seen from any player I've been around. He's just one of those guys that doesn't get tired. I want to try to manage it better as we go forward, but he's more than a scorer. He's an unreal passer who thinks the game. He's competitive. Like I said, he doesn't get enough credit for the defense that he displays every game.

Q. Staying on the topic of defense a little bit, with all the switching that was going on, it did seem like there weren't a lot of moments where D.A. was out on the perimeter having to guard a point guard or a ball handler. Is that intentional, something you don't want to have to put him into a situation to do? Do you attribute the fact that it was kind of the other guys and he was able to stay on that back line and corral the rim?

MONTY WILLIAMS: You're just trying to make an effort, the same way they do with Zubac. You're trying to keep those guys at the rim so, one, they can distract guys when they come to the paint, and two, with rebounds. D.A., he and Capella and probably another guy I'm missing, they're the best rebounders in the league, so you want to take advantage of that.

We're doing the best we can to try to keep him out of rotations. Sometimes it doesn't always work that way. There were a couple times when he rotated out to Reggie in the corners, but he was able to get a hand up and contest those shots. He had one situation where he helped off of Nicolas, and Nicolas got a three. So that's a situation you want to avoid where he's that guy that has to rotate back out for us. For the most part, we're just trying our best to keep him at the rim because they're so good in their isolations and playing off the bounce.

Q. Coach, we know when you say something's pretty cool, it's pretty cool, so we got the point. I wanted to ask just about, when you look at playing without Chris in Game 1, how did you assess your guys would play, and did that match that in terms of how you would play, or did it exceed how you expected the guys to play without him?

MONTY WILLIAMS: To be totally straight, I had no clue. I knew we would compete. I knew that the guys would have great intentions on defense and try to make the right plays, but there's no sample size for that. Western Conference Finals, you're without Chris Paul, you know, you're hoping.

As I said yesterday, I thought Book managed the game well. I thought Cam, who came back in after his first bit, he managed it well, but I thought there was a collective effort. Jae was huge yesterday talking to the guys on the floor, getting them into their spots. Mikal and Cam and Torrey were spaced properly.

I didn't know what to expect as far as from a production standpoint, but I knew that the guys would compete. I knew we would try to do the right things. It's just hard to forecast when you don't have Chris on the floor.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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