Threats for the West: Phoenix Suns

Breaking down which teams have an opportunity to come out of the west.

Key Player: Number 13, Steve Nash. This team comes and goes as Nash does. He sets the table, hit teammates in stride in transition and off of pick and roll situations. Nash is the best shooter in the league (3P%, FG%,FT% all near the top of the nba). Durable, unselfish and can nail the 3, basically the guard every team envisions running the point.

Strength:

The major advantage the Suns have over teams (aside from having Steve Nash) is their bench. They have the lowest drop-off from starters to bench players in the league. Jared Dudley is one of the best 3 point shooters the league has to offer while Dragic is the best back up point guard in the nba. Furthermore, this group has no ego problems. Never will you hear someone complain about playing time or role on the team. This bench, unlike most others, is filled with young players who can only get better as opposed to veterans who are on the way out of the league.

Weakness:

Despite their improvement in this area the past season, they are still at best a middling defensive team. Potent 4’s can crush this team along with speedy 1’s, or rather any 1 with a nba skill set, which in today’s nba sets the table for the entire team. With Nash unable to effectively keep points out of the paint the Suns need a shot swatting center or forward. Robin Lopez ,while a decent enough post defender, is not the answer to their point guard problem. If they are able to make a trade or sign a show swatting center this could remedy their penetration problem. My suggestion? Theo Ratliff.

X-Factor:

When Dragic plays well: they sweep the Spurs. When he disappears: they lose in six to the Lakers. He keys the second unit acting as Steve Nash-lite. Even better is that he can play alongside Nash to provide them with fluid ball movement and driving ability. His main importance is giving Nash a lot of time off during the season and adding years to his game. If he plays poorly this year Nash may be out of gas by the time the playoffs roll around and that spells disaster for Phoenix.

Scapegoat if They Flop:

No, not Amar’e, the decision to let him walk while not even considering offering a max contract. If the Suns fail to get back to the western conference finals this move will be what everyone points to as the reason. He was a huge source of points for the Suns and a player that could average 20 in his sleep. While the moves they’ve made help them make up those points they will miss Stoudamire for his finishing ability and the absolute terror he and Nash used to instill with the pick and roll.

Most Likely Scenario for Next Season:

A definite playoff team that is stuck in limbo. They don’t really have a window because I don’t see them having a legit chance. Who did they run into last year? Portland, San Antonio and the Lakers. Portland was playing with a team that gave Juwan Howard significant minutes last year. In other words, they were decimated by injuries. If they met again this year, provided lightning doesn’t strike twice, I feel they would get crushed. In fact, how many teams for sure can you say this team could beat in a 7 game series? I don’t see many, if any. MAYBE SA if they can’t figure out the Pick-Roll dilemma but that seems unlikely. Of course, they could get hot and score way too many points to handle and make the conference finals, but they wouldn’t win. This isn’t the Eastern conference.

Plausible Move that Could Change Everything:

While I don’t see this occurring because it hasn’t happened yet, lottery bound teams get desperate for youth around the trade deadline. Would the Pacers part with Murphy for Clark, Frye, draft picks and throw-ins? I think they might if they have no other offers on the table. Murphy provides them with a legitimate PF who can average a double-double and isn’t a huge liability on the defensive end. He shoots the ball well but more importantly would move Warrick back into a sub role which I think is better for him at this point in his career.

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~ by Prodigy on July 19, 2010.

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