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More Rain for our Parade

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I don't know about anyone else, but I've been quite pleased with how the Suns have done so far in the preseason. Sure, it's just the preseason and the games are little more than glorified practice. Sure, there were those two no-show games against the Hornets and Clippers. Sure, our guys haven't exactly been playing the cream of the NBA crop for most of these games. But the Suns have gone 4-2, averaged nearly 110 points a game, and held opponents to nearly 9 fewer--all with Amare Stoudemire watching from the sidelines, and Sean Marks as the primary force inside. D.J. Strawberry has been living up to his status as TexSUN's favorite rookie. Shawn Marion has been reintegrated back into the lineup seamlessly--even with Grant Hill etched in at Marion's preferred spot at small forward. And speaking of Grant Hill, other than that elbow to the back incident, he's been doing great. But as we learned yesterday, not everyone shares my optimism, and since the Suns are a team that is at its best when things are at their worst, here's a little more rain to throw on our preseason parade.

First, Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty posts his season preview at BallHype, in which he predicts a (much) lesser finish for the Suns this season, to the tune of a John Hollinger-like 54 games. Try this out for cheery thoughts:

"And honestly? Phoenix is less intimidating than last year. It's cliche to point at Steve Nash's back and his age... but cliches aren't always false. One of these years, Nash's wheels will get loose. When they do, Phoenix is dead."
With all respect to my fellow SBN blogger, methinks Mr. Ziller might be suffering a bit of division rival envy (although he does predict the Suns "could be the easiest division crown in the history of royal bedazzlement").

Next up, we go to ESPN, where we find Daily Dime-style previews for each team. I will begin by saying congratulations to the following SBN bloggers who were invited to participate in this:

However, note to ESPN: If you would like the opinion of an actual Suns fan for your next Suns preview, I'll be happy to help you out. No offense to Matt at Basketbawful--and I do realize that blog's reason for existence is pointing out what's "awful" in the league, but really:
"Instead of going after Kevin Garnett or even James Posey, Kerr gave away Kurt Thomas and two future first-round draft picks. Sure, he signed Grant Hill on the cheap, but this guy once stood up to Michael freaking Jordan. Where were Kerr's cojones this summer?"
There isn't a Suns fan out there who was happy about the Kurt Thomas trade. While I'm still convinced that was more Robert Sarver's call than Steve Kerr's, I'll give the Basketbawful guy that one. But didn't Shawn Marion ask for a divorce from the Suns a few weeks ago in part because he was upset at the Suns for offering him up to Boston in an attempt to land KG? I'm pretty sure I remember reading that somewhere. And I'm pretty sure that required a few "cojones" too, knowing the enormous risk of bridge-burning should that deal have fallen through (which it did). Then again, maybe I'm the one suffering from envy. Seriously, congratulations again to all the SBN blogs who were invited to contribute.

Well, if we weren't rain-soaked enough already, how about FOX Sports reminding us yet again that Steve Nash still needs a ring to be truly great? First off, one of my pet peeves is judging an individual player's worth by whether or not he's ever won a championship. By that logic, recently-traded Antoine Walker is a better player than Nash. Anybody want to make that trade? Second, if I never again hear this argument, it will be too soon:

"Nash's resume is further complicated by this uncomfortable fact: The Dallas Mavericks never reached the NBA Finals with him, and did advance there without him."
For the last time, the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks lost Dirk Nowitzki in their Conference Finals series with the Spurs (and even managed to win a game in San Antonio without him before bowing out in six). The way that team was constructed, this was the equivalent of a Spurs team without Tim Duncan trying to beat a Spurs team with Tim Duncan. The 2003-04 Mavericks had a lot of problems (the aforementioned Antoine Walker whining about playing time being one of them). They wouldn't have been contenders no matter how well Nash played. When the Mavericks made their glorious accent to the Finals in 2005-06, they beat an Amare-less Suns team with Raja Bell playing on one leg--and it still took six games. I will give the Mavericks all the credit in the world for getting past San Antonio that season--even with it being one of the Spurs' "off years" and with Tim Duncan not quite 100%. The Mavericks have done what the Suns have yet to equal. I get it. But I still wouldn't have counted out a healthy Suns team that year, and the fact they fell short doesn't overshadow the sheer amazement of how the Suns ended up in the conference finals that season to begin with. I don't want to give Nash all the credit, because it took an enormous amount of heart and effort by everyone involved, as well as a healthy dose of creativity from Mike D'Antoni. I'll also accept that, personal pet peeve or not, Nash's legacy will be greatly enhanced if he picks up a ring or two before he retires. But I don't want to hear about how Dallas is a better team without Nash just because the Mavericks made it to the Finals in a year when Nash's team was severely undermanned.

Well, now that we're all drenched, here's a friendly reminder that today is the last day to submit a season preview and that the Suns will be on TV tonight. Maybe all this "rain" will provide some extra motivation for our guys.