The Bleak Future and the so-called "Experts"


I’ve always wondered, what does it take to be an expert in a certain field?  More particularly, what does it take to guesstimate where a team will fall in the NBA?  Clearly, all of these so called experts are predicting a major fall for our Suns.  They are expecting that, without Amare, the Suns are a mediocre team and will fall to the #8 or #9 spot.  Which in the West is dangerous since the #8 spot is typically fought for, tooth and nail.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the experts really aren’t that "expert".  They’re merely making an observation based upon their opinion on how much Amare meant to the team.  Don’t get me wrong, his 26ppg will be missed.  His 8rpg will be missed.  His inability to play constant defense will be...err, won’t be missed.  Leandro is gone, but won’t be as missed.  He needs to be on a team that can give him consistent playing time.  Besides, because of his diminishing role with the Suns, his efficiency took a massive hit anyways.  Lou is about the only one that will be truly missed, in my opinion at least.  His fire and tenacity was the spark that pushed games back into the Suns favor.

Anyways, I digress.  Here is what I think, in my expert but not quite the same expert as those that claim to be experts, opinion on what the Suns will be like this year:

He is too old in NBA terms.  Generally speaking, players hit their prime in their late 20s and start dipping off in their 30s.  So, how does he do it?  If he ever decides to release to the public the fountain of youth he is keeping in his basement, he’d make a killing!  Anyways, the last few seasons for Nash have been, without a better word; extraordinary.  Each of the last 6 seasons since rejoining the Suns, we’ve seen INCREASED production of the proverbial Father Time.

                              PPG       APG       RPG
2004-2005            15.5        11.5        2.6
2005-2006            18.8        10.5        3.6
2006-2007            18.6        11.6        3.1
2007-2008            16.9        11.1        3.1
2008-2009            15.7        9.7          2.8
2009-2010            16.5        11.0        2.9
Average               17.0        10.9        3.0

The 08-09 season doesn’t really do Nash justice.  It was the Terry Porter season that stressed more defense than offense, so it is a given that his productivity would drop.  Once he went back to HIS style, as we see in the numbers, his productivity when back up.  This season, I expect his scoring to go up (since Hedo can handle the ball), but his assists may dip a little bit (not much, mind you)

If last season is any indication, J-Rich is the barometer to measure everything about the Suns.  When he is hot and scoring, the Suns win.  When he is cold, it’s a tossup.  As far as J-Rich goes, it is really difficult to gauge how much of an increase we saw in him when he came to the Suns.  He didn’t play much in Charlotte.

                              PPG       APG       RPG
2009-2010            15.7        1.8          5.1

The Suns really don’t expect much out of J-Rich in terms of assists.  His rebounds are adequate for a Shooting Guard.  So, if he can maintain that, but pick up some of the scoring we lost when Amare left; the Suns will do fine.

He must stay healthy.  He must stay active.  It’s been said over and over.  He improved substantially last season, but needs to improve more.

                              PPG       APG       RPG
2009-2010            8.4          .1            4.9

He didn’t play in all of the games last season due to injuries.  If he can stay health and improve, then we’re fine.   It would be ideal to see an increase in both his PPG and RPG.  If he can hit 13ppg and 8-10rpg, I personally wouldn’t have any complaints.

This guy is extremely important to our success.  Not just in terms of being a great guy to play with (multiple Sportman awards), but he is a great Mentor for the young players.  Since coming to the Suns, he’s become healthy.  So much so, he only missed ONE game last season, after playing in all 82 games in the previous.  That is saying a lot for a guy that has had injury problems in the past, and for a guy that turns 38 in October (He must be using Nash’s Fountain of Youth)

                              PPG       APG       RPG
2009-2010            11.3        2.4          5.5

Hill is a great defender.  He gets a lot of playing time against the premier scorers in the league.  He needs to maintain this level.

I really don’t know entirely too much about this guy, at least when he was on Toronto.  I do recall his years in Orlando though.  He is a great player with awesome ball handling skills, especially for a 6-10 Forward.
                              PPG       APG       RPG
2009-2010            11.3        4.1          4.6
* With Toronto

We need the Orlando Hedo, not the Toronto.  If we can get that version, then we’ve got ourselves a great addition to the team.  Another thing the experts are forgetting, is the Nash effect.  Players see improvements in their scoring playing with him.  It isn’t too far-fetched to see Hedo shoot up to around 15-16 PPG next season.

To Summerize
There we have it, the Starters.  Overall, they’ll account for roughly 60% of the Suns offense, more if Hedo can feed off of the genius that is Nash, if RoLo can improve, and if J-Rich can increase his offensive production to make up for Amare.

After them, we have the reserves.  The reserves were beyond spectacular last season.  They are the best reserves in the league.  Sure, we lost Barbosa and Lou, but we gained Childress and Warrick.  They’re athletic and have a lot of potential, especially if paired up with Nash at times.

                                2009 – 2010 Totals
                              PPG       APG       RPG
Dragic                   7.9          3.0          2.1         
Dudley                  8.2          1.4          3.4
Frye                      11.2        1.4          5.3                         
Warrick                 9.6          .7            4.1

The wildcard for the reserves will be Childress.  In his last season in the NBA with the Hawks, 07-08, he averaged: 11.8 PPG, 1.5 APG, 4.9 RPG.  At the minimum, we need him to match the PPG and could really use at least 6-7 RPG per game from him.

All in all, here is what I predict

#1 Lakers
#2 Mavs
#3 Suns
#4 Utah
#5 Portland
#6 Clippers! (JK) --> San Antonio @ #6
#7 OKC
#8 Denver

-Suns will average 112 PPG (good enough for #1 in scoring, again)
-Suns will average 41 RPG (good enough for roughly #15 in the league.  Amare may be gone, but the rebounding will be covered by the new additions)
-Suns will average 23 APG (basically, almost no change from last year unless Nash somehow improves AGAIN)

The moral of the story is: The future of our Suns is not AS bleak as the so called experts say.  Will they be good enough to win the Championship?  I think so.  Heck, they took LA to the brink.  With the team playing better defensively than they’ve played in years, coupled with their usual high-flying offensive output; then Suns can potentially pull an upset this season.

Note: I think they Championship will be out of the Western Conference again this year, or the Celtics.  I am not on the "Heat are going to win 72 games this year" band-wagon.

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