This is a Phoenix Suns team that didnt have much support when the season started and most of that was amendable, but what people didnt realize is how big a difference a coach could make. After nearly 10 months, we made it all the way to the wcf and looking forward. Here is a look at what the future could possibly hold for us.
Well, we almost did it. Imagine how many times you have said thatin your life time as a fan of the Phoenix Suns, and how many times could you have legitimately looked to the future and said what if? This postseason reminds me a whole lot like the postseason of '05; the new kid on the block making it all the way to the wcf. In 05 we weren't the underdogs; we were chosen to win it all, had we been a more mature team we possibly could have, and this season we had the "unable to defend" label and we did not have a whole lot of playoff experience. Though we played hard and aggressive and defied the odds, yet again. We have a solid team core and fantastic team chemistry. We have a stable bench that can provide a spark for our team whenever the starters aren't feeling it and we have a Fantastic fanbase. What is more is that our team has a nice feel good story of its own as well.
Now onto Frontcourt 2011. At the five position, Robin Lopez. A tough, aggressive, mobile 7 footer that plays the game with passion and is a manic defender. He is strong and resilient and adds something this Suns team has lacked: a True center. He is also complements our starting Power-forward Amare Stoudemire exceptionally well.
Now onto the super athletic beast known as Stat, a man that has a knack for posterizing people and also has the agility and jumping ability to dunk over people as he pleases. He has shown us incredible flashes of talent and as we saw during the playoffs his passing ability and maturity has really progressed. Not only can he find the open person but he can also hit the 20 foot jumper to stretch the defense making him a bigger threat; in my opinion, after the all-star break his game really reminded me a whole lot like Lebron. Once you saw amare face-up his man, the 2 second delay, and then the flash to the basket, it can all be summarized by just one word: Deadly. Amare's explosiveness around the rim gives him his ridiculously high fg% and is the reason why phx was able to win so many games after the all-star break, he was practically unguardable and he even showed us that he canrebound and play defense; that above all, warmed my heart dearly. Phoenix started playing better defense after the all-star break and became a better ebounding team as well, both can be credited to Amare. If you look at all the positions throughout the league, the position that gives you the has to play well defensively to be considered a good defensive team is the four. All championship teams had a good defensive power forward I.E Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Rasheed Wallace, Pau Gasol, so the more amare progressive defensively the better for us The list goes on. We already had two positions play defense well, center and small forward, two position that are key defensive options in a contending team.
Now onto the most intriguing part of this analysis, Earl Clark. I expect him to start as there isnt much room for him to develop on the bench and because Clark has an NBA ready body that give us the edge if he plays the small forward. The three requires much versatility as they must be able to: Shoot, Score, assist, defend, as it is the most productive position in the L You don't need to look much further than Clark to find the definition of versatility and there probably isnt a better player to replace hill. Clark reminds me of a lot of different players including: Lamar Odom, Lamarcus Aldridge, and frankly a little bit of Lebron James. He is skilled in a multitude of areas and although he might have the structural build of Kevin Duran, that lankiness adds athleticism. If you watched the OKC Lakers series you could clearly tell how much athleticism and versatility bothered to the lakers; making him a possible key to the future. If he could work on his jumpshot, he could be our lamar odom, but with better influences around him, he will probably pass Lamar Odom. He was a projected Top Ten Pick in a deep draft, meaning not only did we luck out by drafting him, but that he also has a higher ceiling.
Now its time to for a little review on frontcourt 2011. I hope Amare seeks out advice from an all-time great on how to improve his defensive fundamentals; like how kobe did before the start of this season. I can totally see Amare's rebounding picking up as Lopez furthers development an clark playing the small forward; much like frye getting to 13 rebounds in game 6 and amare only getting four. That is essentially Amare's weaknesses. Lopez has his offensive problems, but he has shown flashes of how well he can play offensively, so i actually don't worry about it too much. Now Clark, he has some gaping holes in his game too, though it isnt in simply just one area like Amare. Clark needs to develop his jumpshot (Off-season work with Amare?) needs to be able to find some consistency, and needs to find a go-to move. Clark just shot over the top of people in college and thus, he didn't really broaden his game like many other draftees did. In college you need to be able to build on your game and that isn't something clark did, but he still led lousville. He can, at times, fall asleep when put in the game, Remind you of anyone? *wink* wink* Amare and can also turn the ball over a whole lot; is it me or did we draft stoudemire again? Clark was still creative getting to the basket and was explossive as well; much like how highschool Amare was. The biggest difference is that Clark learned his defensive fundamentals and has show glimpses of his defensive ability. You might not be able to call him a great defensive player yet, he has defensive potential to go along with a solid offense. So all in all, this frontcourt has championship potential written all over it. This group can attack the basket, get stops, and rebound; hopefully we wont have to implement a zone to stop us from getting rebounds.
No onto the backcourt. We still possibly have the best point guard in the league in nash and a super bright future in dragic. If nash is up to it, he can continue to play for several more years as his minutes get reduced and there is still a guy there to take care of business. I don't think i have to say more about nash other than the possibility that he might not be as effective by the time next season rolls around, so from now dragic will be the pg in this analysis. First, i want to tackle Jrich. He had an ugly start to the year as that hand injury really affected his play mightily; as the year progressed he started showing signs of old age creeping in. Jason missed layups and dunks that he would have put an exclamation mark on in the earlier part of his career. I think next season we will see jrich average more points because he wont be injured and is coming off the best 2 and a half months of his pro career. He did average the lowest minutes in his career but still put up one of his more solid season despite playing less. That is what made me the happiest, he was still productive. The last thing i have to say about him is that i want him to play better defense. Maybe he should watch Coach Nick's breakdown videos or have kobe tutor him, but his game isnt complete without a defensive game. Imagine the number of games he could win for us with a mix of potent offense and solid defense.
Now onto Dragic. He is one incredible player and his upper body strength is something that nash cannot rival. Dragic can get into the seams of the defense and finish. With his ability to get into the defense and works his way around he can make brilliant passes because his body can take on the big men surrounding the paint. That is Dragic's advantage over nash, aggresiveness. He can also rain down a lot of points in a hurry, i just want to see him shoot a better free throw percent; if he can do that then we are practically set to have a worthy succesor to steve nash.
I know the backcourt analysis was all over the place but there just too many angles to work with. Overall the backcourt has the scoring ability that is needed and with dragic and clark playing together, you can make a comparison to the '93 Suns team; you take majerle and johnson's assits/ clark and dragic will equal the aissts that nash gets every game. All in all we have a bright future with these guys and the bench. The only problems we have is the amundson-amare-frye situation and where grant will go in the rotation. If you think about it, the suns get 1 year older next season, but to most guys on this team tht is a year closer to maturity and to their prime's; 28-29-30 years of age is the typical age where most nba players have their best seasons. Looking at the roster, we have quite a young core group of guys and we have a tweener in Amare. I expect Amare to have the best season in his pro career as i am sure he knows that he isnt anywhere near kobe's level and i am sure he wants that. He wants to be considered the best and after seeing what he did after the all star break; we shouldnt be thinking amare's body is closer to failing him. Rather, we should be think, damn, we got this guy with the 9th pick and he can averaged 27 and 10 for a 40 game stretch. Imagine what he can do once he is fully adjusted and with two bigger threats added to the team, and he is finally playing his natural position. If i was a GM/owner/coach considering all these things about Amare and the team as a unit i would be thinking: Fuck, look at that team, everyone is pretty young and after not making the playoffs one season, they make it to the wcf the next season? Shit, looks like i better start working the refs a little more; that team is freaking scary!
on a little side note, in order to provide some optimisim to this site that is rather morbid at this time. I mean, jeez guys we werent supposed to give la a run for its money; we were supposed to finish behind the clippers in the standings. We need to belive. We are a team and we have a terrific fanbase. We need to belive that we can beat the Lakers, that is all it takes; confidence. You ask yourself, why did the nuggets lose to the lakers last season when they were playing so well. It is because Denver knew that they couldnt beat LA and they were looking for a reason to quit. Houston is the prime example of the only other challenge LA has gotten in their three year finals run. Houston took LA to seven games, without yao and tmac, mind you. They came together as a team and gave it their all and quite obviously they fell short because they just didnt have the talent to do so. We gave LA a serious test and much like how the nuggets bounced back to crush LA during the proeeding regular season; i think we can do it too.
Lastly i want to take a little time and speak of Steve Nash and his NBA career. He has been in the league for 14 years and his season has always ended with a confusing punch; there will be karmic retribution. Good things come to those who persevere and someday, We WILL get ours.