Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Season Preview: Phoenix Suns

Photo edit by: Payton Wales

No more Steve Nash in the desert.

Nash was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for a pair of first round picks in 2013, a high pick in 2015 and a few extra picks for the latter half of the draft in both '13 and '14.

Los Angeles obviously got the better of the deal for the now but Phoenix did a good job given the circumstance. The Suns will struggle early with finding themselves as a team but the offensive philosophy isn't going to change, so that may help accelerate the cohesion offensively.

Alvin Gentry: Steve Nash and Grant Hill both left the desert for Hollywood. The only true leadership on this club will come from Alvin Gentry. He can finally put a full stamp on this team and begin building some type of defense (Hard to preach defense in practice, if your star player doesn't play it). Most would say he is in a tough spot this season but I think Phoenix, in the loss of Nash, provided Gentry with a solid roster to work with.

Depth Chart

Backcourt Depth: Phoenix, obviously needing a point guard, selected Kendall Marshall out of North Carolina. If you are a Suns fan, give the kid time. He may never match what Nash did scoring wise but Marshall is a pass first guard - like Nash - and that's good for the team and the man installing the offense.

In an insurance move, Phoenix signed Goran Dragic from Houston. Dragic is a high energy player, an 'up and down' player and one Suns faithful will enjoy watching. Goran averaged 8.4 assists a game in the 28 games he started last year, Gentry is a smart man, he'll start him.

Micheal Beasley: Beasley may have landed in heaven. A team not heavy on defensive effort, a team insistent on more attempts on poor shooting nights and a team whose coach is player friendly is an opportunity that Beasley must take full advantage of. It's almost his last stop.

Beasley only averaged 11 and a half points last year in Minnesota but in this offense, he will average a bit higher than his career average of 15 points a game. Beasley will get plenty of opportunities to showcase what he can do, so he will be exciting to watch.

Bulk on Frontline: Marcin Gortat quietly had a solid year in the desert. His 15 PPG average may have been inflated by Nash's creativity but the 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks aren't. I expect Gortat to be a focal point in the offense and raise that average to about 18-19 a game. Alongside him, Phoenix will start PF Luis Scola. The Suns acquired Scola via free agency and his skill set fits right in. Luis is crafty with his back to basket and that is somewhat of a relief for young guards.

If healthy, the depth in the front court can turn out to be fairly good. Jermaine O'Neal, Markieff Morris and Wesley Johnson (former Timberwolves first round pick) make up the relevant depth. Morris' 7 point average won't give me enough ammo to buy you over but he can flat out ball and has a very underrated 'around the rim' skill set. Wesley Johnson is still a project but working under Gentry will hopefully allow him to find himself offensively. O'Neal is big body who won't get you many buckets but can be active 12-20 minutes a game.

Phoenix realistically can't win the Pacific Division this year but that doesn't mean they won't be competitive. They'll still be exciting, they'll still score.

Phoenix Suns Schedule


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