My apoligies to David Cross for stealing the title of this post from him, but I couldn't think of a better way to sum up my feelings in five words or less.
I once had an ingrown toenail. This little bastard was hanging around for weeks, maybe even months. I tried everyone's stupid suggestions: epsom salt, wearing bigger shoes, etc. etc., until finally I realized what I had to do. I had to dig right in and conquer it. So that's just what I did.
After I regained conciousness, I learned a valuble lesson. You gotta be willing to endure some goddamn pain and discomfort if you ever want things to get better. Otherwise you jolly well can't complain, can you? Well you could I guess, which is one of the things that separate man from beast. We can bitch and whine, and we can do it all we want.
So, since I fully intend on seeing this mess through, I vow to not complain. On the other hand, I have to do something, so why not take a pair of clippers and yank out this ingrown toenail of a Suns basketball season? Lets get into the blood and guts of this mess, and not come back until our clothes are saturated with the fluids of failure. After all, you're not going anywhere. Are you?
Total dissection, after the jump.
Why do we suck?
So many reasons, only bullet points can help me now.
- Amare (I will forever refuse to include your apostrophe!) is gone. I'm not playing the blame game. Everyone sucked in this situation.
- Hedo, Warrick and Childress. They didn't live up to expectations, for various reasons, which is kind of sad since the expectations weren't that high to begin with. Hedo was supposed to be our Diaw, he wasn't even our Gugliotta. Warrick was supposed to be Amare Lite, he was more like Natty Light. Childress... broke his finger. Shut up.
- Yeah, Steve Nash is old. It's finally true. Still a top-5 PG, still a (shoulda been) All-Star, still Nashty, but he can't drag a corpse of a team through an 82-game season anymore. What makes it worse, is that at times he has looked like he's dragging his own corpse around, not just the corpses of his average teammates.
- The reports of Goran and Robin's arrival were greatly exaggerated. We were warned. We thought we had the core of our team solidified for the future after watching the two of them play a combined... oh, maybe 50 decent games? Remind me never to overvalue a young player again. It's not fair to them, and I hate being disappointed.
So going into the season, what would the team have needed to be playoff-worthy? They needed a career year from either Lopez, Dragic, Warrick, Childress or Hedo. If any one of those guys broke through and contributed something like 15-20ppg, 8rpg and/or 5apg, that would have equated to a career year, and this team might have been good. They did get a career year from Marcin Gortat, but by then it was too late.
Instead of letting the reins off of any of those players, they were all subjected to basically watching Nash dominate the ball. As I lamented earlier in the season, sometime around the debilitating home loss to the Knicks, the team didn't add any new wrinkles to the offense in light of losing Amare, and they really, really should have. Instead, they looked at times like they were waiting for Amare to pull a Willis Reed and suddenly appear from the stands, while Nash dribbled and dribbled and dribbled. I guess that's on Coach Alvin.
In the last Amare-less season, 2005/06, the Suns were still able to light up the scoreboard. They did it by spacing the floor with shooters, putting a talented (and even somewhat motivated) Boris Diaw at the elbow, who could either score in the paint or dish to the perimeter, and letting Nash break the poor fools down off the dribble. Thing was, that was the Nash of five years ago. They basically tried the same thing this year - spacing the floor with shooters - but they lacked a consistent roll man (as the Hammer showed up late to the party), and the 37-year-old version of Nash can hardly break Andrew Bynum down off the dribble. He's still crafty as hell and one of the best shooters ever to suit up, but I remember how the Nash of old would make the big guys look ridiculous when they had to follow him out to the perimeter. Now, he usually throws it into the post in that situation.
Ok, I'll give it a shot.
- Zabian Dowdell proved to be a servicable third PG
- Jared Dudley and Channing Frye appear to have every intention of fulfilling their contracts
- Polish Hammer
- That's it
The team is going to finish out of playoffs, but not in bottom-feeder territory. That means they have secured a late lottery pick, which is where studs like Earl Clark and Casey Jacobsen are born. What team does that remind you of? If the Indiana Pacers popped into your head, then you and I share the same fears. That is the worst-case scenario for the organization and the front office. It is so damn hard to break free from being average. I'll take the T-Wolves, Warriors and Clippers respective situations over being consistently average.
Hopefully our noobs in the front office realize the dangerous road they are heading down. I'm not going to pile on and call them morons after just one year; they should have at least three seasons before they can be fairly criticized. Remember what a moron Steve Kerr looked like in the summer of '09? The team had missed the playoffs the previous year, and the only thing that he came up with to stop the bleeding was (indirectly) Shaq for Channing Frye. People (including me) at the time said that he was committing to being average. That was the last roster move he made as GM, and a few months later it proved to be brilliant.
The Future Is Unwritten
A little too unwritten maybe. If Nash returns, are they still going to treat him as the Steve Nash of '06, running every play through him? Is the front office poised to make a move and pool some of their assets for a solid second option? Will we even have a season? About the closest thing to certainty I can come up with is that this is the end of the Nash Era, meaning that even if Steve stays in Phoenix, he can't put a team on his shoulders for an entire season anymore. And I'm OK with that. Everything comes to an end. I just can't wait to see what the next step will be, cause I know I'll be there with pride either way.
In the meantime, there's a reason I drink.