Last season, the Phoenix Suns finished a disappointing 40-42 and missed the playoffs. The team's best players are on the wrong side of 35 , the roster is stacked with role players and journeymen and few significant roster changes were made during the offseason. On the surface, there does not appear to be a lot to get excited about. However, this team is not completely bereft of talent, and no matter how things go, it will still be possible to enjoy this season.
First of all, as bleak as the Suns' prospects may seem now, this team still has something to play for. A playoff seed is not entirely out of the question. By my reckoning, there are 7 teams that should make the playoffs barring their star player going on IR. But the remaining spot is wide open and the other teams competing for a bid with Phoenix have their own issues.
Phoenix may have missed the playoffs by six games, but the Suns were fighting fiercely for a spot and were right in the hunt with about a month to go. In fact, much of the discussion on this very blog was not about whether or not Phoenix could make the playoffs but rather how high of a seed the team could earn. Steve Nash was playing at a high level and Channing Frye had transformed into a certified ICMF. Unfortunately, Nash picked up some lingering injuries and Kevin Durant dislocated Frye's shoulder, and the season, for all intents and purposes, ended.
It really was quite amazing that the Suns even had a shot at making the postseason considering how much turmoil the team went through early in the season. Hedo Turkoglu was the opening day starter at power forward. Robin Lopez went down early with an injury and was replaced by Earl Barron at center. Then Phoenix sent away three players, including the team's leading scorer Jason Richardson, and received three new rotation players in return that head coach Alvin Gentry had to incorporate into the lineup. Two of those players turned out to be busts in the purple and orange. Finally, right as the team was hitting its stride, injuries hit two key players and the run was over.
With more continuity, and a little luck, this team just might be able to pull off what they weren't able to last year.
With all that being said, a depressing season is also very possible. Even if that is the case, fans can still enjoy this season if they keep their eyes on the following rays of sunshine peaking through the clouds.
- Game on! - The NBA will play games this year, which is something to be thankful of in and of itself. A month ago it looked like the entire season was going to be cancelled.
- Trimmed Fat - Vince Carter and all his apathy is now the Dallas Mavericks' problem, and it only cost the Suns $4 million. That's a heck of a deal if you ask me. Mickael Pietrus, in all his Laker-loving, shot-jacking glory, is also gone.
- Scrappy Doo! - Ronnie Price has some serious issues on offense, but that won't prevent him from playing hard and making a contribution to the team. He plays with hustle and intensity defensively and will make all the scrappy plays fans love to see. Plus, he hates the Lakers.
- Let Shannon Dunk! - Shannon Brown is not a great basketball player. But he is a tremendous athlete, something Phoenix -- and Steve Nash -- have missed on the wings after trading away Jason Richardson. If nothing else, Brown will provide plenty of jaw-dropping alley-oops and jams for fans to enjoy.
- Insure any and all Glass Doors - The story of training camp has been the reported resurgence of Robin Lopez. If he really is back to his 2009 form, it could give Phoenix one of the best center tandems in the NBA.
- Pudgemonster - Garret Siler is still on the team. This one mostly applies to suns68, but I'm sure others enjoy seeing the big man play.
- Bombs Away! - Channing Frye struggled mightily in the two preseason games, but there is no doubt in my mind he will be back to his old ICMF self before long. When he is feeling it from deep, he can put on one heck of a show.
- Jared Dudley - Leading Scorer? - I realize having Dudz lead the team in scoring is not a thrilling prospect for many fans, but the fact that it's even a possibility is truly amazing considering where he was when he arrived in Phoenix. He will give you everything he has on a nightly basis, and will continue to work on his game. Appreciate the effort he puts forth, and enjoy watching him continue to improve.
- Welcome to the NBA, Rook - For the first time in a while, the Suns have a legitimate rookie in Markieff Morris who will get playing time from day 1. Keef has a chance to be a real contributor for this team. Enjoy watching his progress as the season rolls on.
- Grant "BAMF" Hill - Enjoy every second of this MAN's time on the court. He is pure class and will give everything he has every night. Savor every time he locks down an opponent's star player. Cherish every mid-range jump-shot he knocks down. Appreciate every time he hustles down court for a fast break layup. He chose to come back to Phoenix for one more year, so enjoy it.
- Does He Really Even Need to be Mentioned? - Steve Nash is back and in great shape. This is the last year of his contract with the Suns. Savor every second of it.
Last of all, I want wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.