2011 Suns vs 2009 Orlando Magic

I was struggling to get on board with the recent Turkoglu addition (like everyone else, I love Childress) so I went back and tried to watch videos of him on Orlando.  After all, 2 years ago he was the 2nd best player on a finals team.  Never been able to say that about Amare (not entirely his fault,  but still).

Watching the Magic play made me think- are the Suns just essentially a better version of a 2009 Finals team?

I decided to break it down, position by position, trying to be not only fair, but somewhat pessimistic.

Center: Dwight Howard vs Robin Lopez

Obviously the worst match-up for the Suns.  Dwight is a superstar and Fropez is a third-year player.  That's not the point though - the point is that the Suns have an athletic, mobile defensive center to man the middle.  That's what makes the comparison work - not that Lopez is as good as Howard, but plays a similar style. 

Lopez C+, Howard A+

Power Forward: Channing Frye vs. Rashard Lewis

This is where veer off a bit - I know Coro is reporting that Turkoglu will probably start at the PF.  But with Hill only set to play 20 minutes a game, I'm betting that crunch-time, and most of the game, Turkoglu will play some SF. So I'm slotting Frye in here, because while Rashard Lewis gets paid more(understatement), he gave the magic the same think Frye gives the Suns - an skinny 4 whose length gives other 4s trouble on D, and whose shooting ability causes problems.  After looking at Lewis production in the playoffs, I'm calling this basically a wash.  That's right, I said it.

Frye C+, Lewis B-

Small Forward: Hedo Turkoglu vs Hedo Turkoglu

I think I'm gonna call this even.

Shooting Guard: Jason Richardson vs Courtney Lee

This is where the Suns start really picking it up.  Lee's a nice player, but Richardson is an established baller, and with his improved touches coming next year, a borderline all-star.  Big player, physical (if not great) defender, great rebounder - hell, I'd say Richardson is even better than Vince, who the Magic swapped Lee for last year.  

Richardson B, Lee C

Point Guard: Steve Nash vs Jameer Nelson

Again, this is a huge upgrade.  Nelson is a good player, a borderline all star.  Nash is a hall-of-famer, warrior and borderline superstar.  

Nash A, Nelson B.  

At this point, it's a wash, according to my completely arbitrary, last minute grading system.  But I think the Suns could do even better - Richardson's in contract year, Lopez could keep improving (I don't know why he wouldn't).  On top of that, there's the bench.

Bench Guards/ Wings: Goran Dragic, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley vs Rafer Alston, JJ Reddick and Michael Pietrus

AHAHAHAHA. This is where I can no longer be unbiased. Dudley and Redick are both skilled shooters and rugged defenders - Reddick's a better shooter, but Dudley is a much better defender (I thought he did the best job on Kobe in the WCF).  Josh Childress is the exact player as Michael Pietrus - athletic defender and decent shooter.  But Goran Dragic is one of the most exciting, up and coming players in the NBA, and if the Suns bench wasn't so stacked, he'd easily be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.  Rafer Alston is Rafer Alston.  If the Magic could have slotted Dragic in for an injured Nelson, or brought him off the bench when their offense was dragging, they might have beat the Lakers

Advantage, Suns.

Bench Bigs: Grant Hill and Hakim Warrick vs Marcin Gortat.

Gortat did and admirable job filling in for Howard, and obviously I'm stretching to put Hill here (although I do think he'll play more 4 this year), and Warrick is undersized.  But both Hill and Warrick would start for multiple teams, and fit the Suns perfectly.  Through in the Suns bargain big guy (Kurt Thomas) and this is easily a wash, at least.

Slight Advantage, Suns.

What are you left with? A starting 5 every bit as good as the Magic's, with a massively better bench.  Factor in the PGs matter more than ever, and I feel very good about the Suns next year.  Very good.

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