If Not Lopez, Then Who?

Barring any unforeseen occurrences in training camp or preseason, 4 starting spots appear locked down:

PG-Nash
SG-Richardson
PF-Stoudemire
SF-Hill

The 5 is the question. We have options in theory. We could go really small and run everyone out of the building. It's a sexy idea, but what happens when we face the Spurs, Lakers, and Blazers of the league? Who will rebound?  Who will guard the rim once Tony ParkerKobe Bryant and Brandon Roy blow past our front two en route to an easy layup? Who will fill the Shaq void?: Meet our big men, Channing Frye and Robin Lopez.

Here are some numbers to consider:

  • In 2009, the Suns led the NBA in scoring with 109.4 per game. They were 27th in defense, giving up 107.5 points per game. Their overall defensive rating was 111.6 (26th in the league).
  • In 2008-9 The Suns were a middle of the pack rebounding team, averaging 41.70 per game. Of course, that is with Shaquille O'Neal playing center.
  • In 2009, Shaq led the Suns with 633 rebounds and 108 blocks. Amare, in only 53 games was second on the team with 430 rebounds. Amundson was second on the team with 65 blocks in 76 games.

I realize Shaq took a lot of Amare's rebounds away, and I also realize Amare missed 29 games due to injury. Provided he's healthy, Amare can take up someof the slack left by Shaquille O'Neal. But Amare obviously cannot do it alone. So who else can we depend upon to battle the boards, and guard beasts like Howard, Oden or Bynum?

Let us start with what we know to be true about Frye and Lopez:

  • Frye is not a 5. He does not possess the attributes needed to be an every day NBA center. He'd clearly be playing out of position. His best rebounding season was his rookie year in NY, where he averaged 5.8 (374 for the season).
  • I'm 99% sure Amare is not moving back to the 5. Like Frye, he's simply not a center. Plus, I think he would be very unhappy about moving back there. Unhappy enough to do something silly like demand a trade or become a locker room cancer
  • Lopez's size and skill set represent the only true center on the squad. In fact, even as an inconsistent second year player, I don't know anyone outside of Amundson, Hill, and (sometimes Barbosa) that have proven to be above average defense players.

What do you all think?

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