Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica was not ready for this pre-season moment from Milwaukee
The Phoenix Suns will be first round Playoff cannon fodder this year. I think they have taken a big step backwards with their personnel and the talent level has dropped significantly. This is not a recipe for success unfortunately and the fans will suffer this season. It will be bitter sweet seeing Steve Nash play this season, as there will be the great ways in which he lifts the unassuming and the terrible ways in which he will miss the past talented teammates.
The loss of Amar’e Stoudemire is significant, there’s no doubting that but there are bigger problems in Phoenix than the Amar’e to New York move. Let’s take a look at some of the arrivals:
* Josh Childress
* Hedo Turkoglu
* Hakim Warrick
It’s obvious that with these players coming in, the Suns are going to have to play their trademark style of Basketball better than ever before. They’ve actually lost power players from a somewhat powerless squad to begin with.
Josh Childress is not a power player, he is a finesse player with a gimpy-looking jump shot. This guy could definitely flourish in a D’Antoni Suns system with inside threats, here not so much.
Hakim Warrick tries to be a power player but is far more comfortable swooping to the hoop and finishing with dunks. I’ve seen very little evidence of a spot up jump shot and again, I see him thriving in a D’Antoni Suns system with inside threats like Stoudemire. With this squad, not so much.
Hedo Turkoglu may be playing well in the World Championships but let’ s face it, he sucked last year in Toronto. The saving grace here for Coach Gentry is that Hedo may feel like he has something to prove. Right now I see him as that stereo-typical athlete who finally gets involved with the right team “for him”, raises his stocks to the roof with his great play on the big stage and then leaves for the cash. How many of these guys then never do anything as useful again? Does the name Ike Austin ring a bell?
Steve Nash will continue to be great, Goran Dragic will continue to develop, Jared Dudley should continue to stroke the three-ball and Grant Hill will forever be timeless in his approach to the game. The issue here is the missing threat inside.
Who is going to command any attention inside for the Suns? I’m not just talking about the “points in the paint” factor but who is going to leave an outside threat to cover the paint if no one of threat is on court. Let’s take a look at the Suns’ inside presence:
* Earl Clark
* Robin Lopez
* Channing Frye
* Dwayne Jones
I’m not going to waste any key strokes on Clark or Jones for now, here’s hoping they change my mind during the season. Channing Frye took a nice developmental step last year and amongst his swag of three’s and improved play also scored well in NBAMate’s Doubting Thomas Award. But is he the post player that any team other than the Clippers will choose to double? I think not.
Robin Lopez is the key here, along with a trade for a big man. I’ve seen some good signs from this guy while he’s had to stand in Stoudemire’s shadow. If you’re a Suns fan like NBAMate’s “Chucko“, you’ll be hoping this kid takes a big step up towards his brother Robin’s level in 2011. I actually thought the Suns would try to acquire Etan Thomas to provide some inside scoring and rebounding. He’s no spring chicken but could have added some toughness I think they could definitely use.
No matter how you look at it, Phoenix will have some big challenges this season. Every team in their division has gotten better this off-season and I cannot say the same for the Suns.
Prediction: Phoenix finish 40-42 and get swept in the First Round, if they make it that far.