Canada is our friend. The country has given us Steve Nash and Shane Doan. It provides road-clogging snowbirds who buy tickets to sporting events and populate our golf courses. It has yet to steal our NHL franchise.

Yet no one could’ve foreseen the latest contribution from the Great White North to the Valley of the Sun – a basketball coach who might save the Suns from themselves.

Jay Triano is that good.

“I’m under no requirements, and maybe that’s part of the interim tag, where I have to play certain guys a certain number of minutes,” Triano said. “They’ve asked me to play who deserves to play, and reward who is playing well. That could be it right there. Guys are going to get minutes based on production.”

After replacing Earl Watson three games into the season, Triano has guided the Suns to a 7-10 record. He inherited a toxic mess, a fumbling franchise dealing with the aftermath of Eric Bledsoe’s trade request and the fastest termination in the history of NBA head coaches. He stabilized the locker room almost immediately.

Under Triano, the Suns have improved on defense. They are surprisingly competitive. Their assist totals are surging, reflecting a team that is sharing the basketball with renewed belief. They once passed and watched. Now they pass and move. And it’s always the little stuff that matters.

“I don’t have an answer (to the overall improvement),” Triano said. “Our goal was to have these guys compete at a high level and hold guys accountable. The other night, as bad as it was with 29 turnovers, I’m OK with it as long as they’re effort turnovers. If they’re lazy turnovers, then I have an issue.”

The biggest change in the Suns – the one that matters most to Triano – is often how they look in the morning. Practices are different. Players engage in shooting games on their own time, remaining on the court well after the game-day walkthrough is finished. There is no sense of fatalism that plagued last year’s team, the result of a franchise that doused the inner fire after deciding to tank the season.

Even the current two-game losing streak had fulfilling moments: Devin Booker’s sensational 3-point shot at the buzzer to force overtime against Milwaukee, one of those moments that speak to the ascendance of a true superstar; and a windmill dunk from Josh Jackson that made all the NBA highlight reels.