NBA: A Look at the Phoenix Suns
Now that the 2012-2013 Phoenix Suns season is underway let’s take a look at how the team might fair this season.
We all know the Steve Nash era is over. Under Nash the Suns won three Pacific Division titles, we watched some highly-entertaining basketball and Nash won 2 MVPs. However the Suns had zero trips to the NBA Finals.
Among the concerns for the Suns this season will be replacing Nash, as well as Grant Hill, both on the court and in the locker room. Veterans like Jermaine O’Neal and Luis Scola have been brought in to try and help that situation; but it will take some time for players and coaches, as well as the Suns fans, to get used to the changes.
Coach Alvin Gentry would like to continue the furious pace that the Suns played during the Nash era and it is a fairly simple system for the new players to learn. The most important aspect of this style of play is for the players to be in superior physical shape. This year’s Suns’ game rotation could feature 12 guys, although there is a chance Gentry will adjust that as the season goes on. That could bring some growing pains for everyone involved. The players the Suns currently have on the roster can all score; perfect for this style of basketball.
As usual, for the Suns to succeed in this style of “run and gun” offense they will need to stop other teams’ offensive game with some defense. Some of the new faces, like Scola and O’Neal, are decent defensive veterans and will be counted on a lot. Others like Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson are seen as revolving doors to the hoop and will need to work on their defense.
Suns fans are going to be looking for a new face of the franchise. Channing Frye might have been that guy, but most likely will miss the entire season due to a heart condition. Jared Dudley, in his unique way, could be the face of the Suns. Dudley is in decent shape and gives everything he has, every night. He plays a “hard-nosed” game on offense and has worked on his defensive game as well. He also has become an efficient 3-point shooter and is well liked by his teammates and coaches. Dudley always seems readily available to the fans and media. One question mark for Dudley is will he go into a shooting slump like has done in the past.
Here are a few other players for the Suns fans to take a look at:
Goran Dragic: We all know that Goran Dragic is back in Phoenix and fans of the Suns will have to learn that his return probably won’t play out as well as Nash’s two-time MVP winning campaign. But, keep in mind, last year Dragic had a career season for the Rockets with 11.7 Points per Game and 5.3 Assists per Game.
Luis Scola: Luis Scola is a “seasoned” veteran. His game has fewer limitations than most power forwards. He might not be the most athletic forward, so the more physically gifted big men may pose match-up troubles for him. He will play hard every night and give you everything he has. Some were shocked that Scola was let go by the Rockets; but at age 31, maybe they were worried about his eventual decline in performance. Only time will tell what Scola will do in a Suns uniform.
Marcin Gortat: Out of all the Suns players this year, Marcin Gortat will miss Nash more than anyone. He was a master of running the pick and roll with Nash and hopefully Goran Dragic will be the guy to assume that roll. Remember it might take several games to see that style of play develop with Gortat and Dragic. Also, Gortat is a great offensive center and he will get his share of offensive rebounds. However, he does need some work on his defensive game and cannot get frustrated by the way some big men will come at him with the ball.
Wesley Johnson: Wesley Johnson has been as underwhelming as one could imagine. He was the fourth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and has not equaled his rookie numbers of 9.0 Points per Game, 3 Rebounds per Game and 1.9 Assists per Game. It is time for Johnson to show everyone he can be a good player in the NBA.
Michael Beasley: One of the biggest question marks for the Suns is the acquisition of Michael Beasley. He was signed to a three year contract in the off-season. He is a skilled player, if he is committed; like he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2010-11 season when he averaged 19.2 Points per Game and was actually a positive locker-room guy. If he is that guy, then the three years and $18 million will be considered a great contract move by the Suns. If he is moody and gets in trouble both on and off the court, then the Suns coaches and front office will have an expensive problem to deal with.
The outlook for this season is about the same as it was the last two seasons, they will be right around the .500 record mark. For Suns fans a .500 record this season would be considered a success.
So take a look at the 2012-13 Suns and see what you think!