Welcome to the 2009-2010 Phoenix Suns. Gone are the days of true up tempo Suns basketball; we now enter the 36 year old, God I hope you don't break an ankle or tear an ACL era. Yes Suns fans, we are a rebuilding team. Don't get me wrong, if you are going to rebuild, it is a plus having Steve Nash orchestrate the offense, teaching while assisting. Yet as the talent level in the Western Conference has risen, Steve Kerr with his U of A education and championship rings from San Antonio and Chicago has ruined an organization. My organization.
What exactly do the Suns have this year and where are they going? Let us take a look...
Steve Nash, PG - The Nash Attack is back, Jack. Yes, he is old. But in Nash's case, he is just 'older'. He always is in phenomenal shape and the ideal fit for the system Phoenix will run this year. He is a 2 time MVP, and his ability to take over a game late, either passing or scoring, is what makes him a threat at all times. We all know this. My only complaint about Nash is he may have lost a step, and in doing so, the passing lanes aren't there like they used to be. His is beginning to become a turnover liability.
Jason Richardson, SG - I have stated before and I'll state it again, I am a massive J Rich fan. His pin point accuracy from beyond the 3 point line is a game changer. He is athletic and high flying and due for a great season. I feel that last year he held back a bit. Last year, even with Alvin Gentry's integration of the run and gun, was an offense that featured Shaq. Jason Richardson will have a bit more of the workload this season, and I believe he can thrive in doing so. He is a two guard that can post up, rebound, and play physical. Now if he can avoid those darn DUI's...
Grant Hill, SF - Is it me, or does he always looked surprised? I'm surprised that he played in every game last season! You can not deny the drive and will of Grant Over the Hill. He is quick, he is intelligent, he is a leader. His defense is par, but if his health remains, he is worth having. There is no doubt that he is no Shawn Marion (thanks Kerr), but he will do. His veteran presence will help mold the young basketball minds on the team.
Amar'e Stoudemire, PF - We all know the capabilities of this beast when healthy. He is a force inside like no other, and his jump shot is what allows his interior dominance. Yes, we have all be waiting for some sign of defensive dedication, and hopefully this is the year. I'm guessing it isn't. In a close game, STAT is the perfect power forward for his aggressive offensive nature allows him trips to the free throw line. I pray for success for the Suns for one reason: if the Suns aren't doing well, a mid-season Amar'e trade will go down. That would officially start an era of sub .500 seasons.
Channing Frye, C - Something tells me Steve Kerr is trying to sell some tickets with this acquisition. Channing Frye is a local boy, playing his college ball down I-10 at the University of Arizona, and playing in the Phoenix area as a Knight from St. Mary's. He is ideal for a run and gun offense with his jump shot and lack of shyness when pulling the trigger. He isn't the best rebounder, and he has played second fiddle to other centers while in New York and Portland. He is getting his opportunity here and now. He may compliment Stoudemire very well. I think this was a good, not great, pick up.
Leandro Barbosa, SG - I believe the Suns have an above average and energetic bench, and it starts with The Blur. He is quick, perhaps the quickest player in the NBA, and a threat to score at anytime. When he was let off the back-up PG leash, he began to thrive. You have to love that you can not game plan for Barbosa. There are so many different ways he can beat you. On any other NBA team, he'd be starting. We are lucky that before Colangelo left he signed this guy to a long term deal. Don't trade him Kerr.
Jared Dudley, SF - After loosing Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to the Charlotte Bobcats last season, I knew that this was the best deal in the Kerr era. Yes, Jason Richardson was the centerpiece, but as a fan of ACC basketball, I knew who Jared Dudley was. Much akin to the rest of the Suns bench, he is a high energy player who takes full advantage of the minutes allotted to him. I love any defense played by Phoenix (it is such a rare thing) and he brings it in by the wheel barrel. His scoring needs to increase from 5.5 points per game, but as long his execution of the little things continue, I won't complain.
Louis Amundson, PF - His coordination looks off. His shot looks off. Even his hairdo looks off. But his game is spot on. The Gazelle proves one cliche wrong, white boys can jump! Like Dudley, he is scrappy and hard nosed. This boy can run, too, which helps the fast pace in which to bench needs to play. He worked on his free throw shooting ability, and I love this move. He is a magnet for the basket, and if he can raise his FT%, he will become an even greater asset to the team. He is goofy, but he gets it done.
Goran Dragic, PG - The left hander is now in his second year in the league, and his confidence is growing. He can stop on a dime a score, but he will have to increase his point guard abilities as the season progresses. Heck, he has the best coach in the league starting in front of him. Start taking notes kid. He has great potential, and if the second half of last season is any barometer, we might have a replacement for Nash. Time will tell, but I like the idea of Dragic.
Alando Tucker, SF - He was fun to watch at Wisconsin and has the ability to log some solid minutes. He has enough defensive skill to earn some minutes; it is just a matter of Alando making an impact. I liked the move when we drafted him, I just thought I'd see more production by now.
Robin Lopez, C - Oh no! Side Show Bob hurt his foot!
Earl Clark, PF - I am really high on this rookie from Louisville. He has everything it takes to be a great player in the NBA: size, speed, and a good basketball mind. That is what you get when drafting a Rick Pitino product. If Gentry is smart, he will play this guy often with the second team, and many times with the first. He can have a positive impact if given the chance. This guy isn't going to be good, he is going to be great.
That is this year's version of the Phoenix Suns. What will they do this year? I'll tell you this: the Suns are like an exgirlfiend you never get over. I'm always wanting more from them, but they'll never give it. I am scared to start watching them again, but with every new season brings new hope. I guess that makes me a sucker. It is my opinion that they will do well this season. The West is not as strong as it was last year. I feel Houston is weaker, as is Utah. The 46-36 record that cost the Suns a trip to the playoffs last season could get them a #6 seed this year. That being said, the West still has the Lakers.
Here is my prediction:
Phoenix Suns will be 45-37 and be bounced in the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs.
I hope I'm wrong and they bring a championship home. Go Suns.