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2007-08 Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Well, here it is: The first annual Bright Side of the Sun community-wide season preview of our favorite NBA team. Before we begin, a special thanks goes to readers sunofa, JSun, and Apricot who contributed their own previews in the diaries. I would also like to thank everyone who voted in the poll. I shall now attempt to compile excerpts from everyone's contributions along with my own, and with any luck, we'll end up with something that's a fair representation of the community's thoughts about the upcoming season. Here goes!

Last Season's Record: 61-21
Key Losses: Kurt Thomas, James Jones, Pat Burke
Key Additions: Grant Hill, Alando Tucker, D.J. Strawberry, Brian Skinner

What significant moves were made during the offseason?

TexSUN: The offseason got off to a rocky start when the Atlanta Hawks beat the odds and got to keep their first round pick. That pick would have gone to the Suns (as part of the Joe Johnson sign-and-trade in 2005) had it fallen outside of the top three. With hopes of landing a top-10 pick scuttled, the Suns' focus shifted to Plans B and C--righting the financial ship, and picking up the best talent available within their budget. That led to the unpopular disposal of the 24th pick for cash, followed by the even more unpopular disposal of Kurt Thomas, along with two more first round picks, in an effort to bring the Suns' payroll within shouting distance of the luxury tax threshold. But, it also brought the popular acquisition of Grant Hill at a bargain price, and he should be a major upgrade over James Jones who was sent to Portland in another cost-savings move. Plus, the Suns picked up two promising rookies in Alando Tucker and D.J. Strawberry, as well as Brian Skinner's veteran presence to help fill some of the void left by Kurt Thomas. Along the way, the Suns near-missed on a deal to acquire Kevin Garnett, and got turned down (for now) by P.J. Brown. Overall, the offseason moves should help the Suns offensively, probably hurt them defensively, help a ton financially, and bring in some youth for the future.

sunofa: All in all, it was a pretty low-key offseason for the Suns. They pulled in Grant Hill, who provides more leadership and experience, as well as a still accurate shot and great basketball IQ. If he can stay healthy, he could be the piece to get this team over the hump. Alando Tucker and DJ Strawberry are both great grabs, especially for their position. Unfortunately, they will never feel the warm light of day until 2009. I think pretty much every Suns fan was distraught when they got rid of Thomas, but half of us expected it was some sort of set-up move for a Garnett deal. No dice. It may work out best in the end, though.
[Read sunofa's complete preview here]

JSun: The biggest potential upgrade on the table involved dealing away Marion. Although I really wanted to see AK-47 in a Suns uniform because I have an undying respect for a man who's not afraid to show his emotions (can you imagine what would happen if his dog died - or, heaven forbid, something important? crying over a freakin' basketball game?), deep down I'm very happy that Shawn's still on the team. He was the one guy who kept me interested in the Suns during the Dark Years before Nash's return.
[Read JSun's complete preview here]

Apricot: The biggest move during the offseason was signing Grant Hill. He will be a great asset to the team with his playmaking skills.
[Read Apricot's complete preview here]

What are the team's biggest strengths?
TexSUN: The most obvious answers are Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni, whose three-year collaboration has produced the most efficient, highest-scoring offense in the league, not to mention the most fun to watch. Other possible answers are: Amare Stoudemire's presence inside, Shawn Marion's presence everywhere, Leandro Barbosa's speed, Raja Bell's toughness, and Grant Hill's experience and overall greatness. But I think the biggest thing the Suns have going for them is their resilience. Despite all the reports of chemistry issues and what not, when it's game time, these guys put all of that other stuff aside, and just come to play.

sunofa: This team has redefined offensive strategy in the NBA. Their biggest strength is their offensive versatility and incomparable motor. Their time of possession lengthened somewhat last season, but they were still third. With Nash at the helm, defenses get overrun with the constant rush of big athletic players rushing downcourt at breakneck speed. Amare Stoudemire returned last season to even better form than before his micro-fracture surgery. Shawn Marion continued to put up huge numbers and operates as a pivotal cog in the offense. Raja Bell and Barbosa both stepped up their games, becoming even more weapons that opponents have to be wary of. This season, the strategy seems to be "better, faster, harder, stronger."
[Read sunofa's complete preview here]

Apricot: Phoenix's biggest strengths will be Brian Skinner's defense and rebounding. The team overall has a better bench than last year.
[Read Apricot's complete preview here]

What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
TexSUN: Again, there's an obvious answer here: Defense. The Suns will have to find a way to patch the gaping hole left by Kurt Thomas' departure. But Thomas aside, the biggest problem the Suns had on defense last year wasn't keeping the other team from making a shot. It was keeping the other team from rebounding the miss and making a second (or third, or fourth) attempt. The Suns are never going to be a great rebounding team because they are usually out-sized. But if they can find a way to lessen the discrepancy even a little, it would go a long way toward curing the perception they are a terrible defensive team.

sunofa: It's obviously defensive ability down-low. While Raja Bell can hang with the best guards, even the Black Mamba, and Marion can handle any small forward capably, the Suns cannot bang down low. They have no offensive rebounder to speak of, they give up too many offensive boards on the flip side. Boris Diaw took a huge step back last season and has to come back hard this season if the Suns are going to matchup with the bigs in the West.
[Read sunofa's complete preview here]

JSun: I would like to see some more intensity on the offensive glass, but I'm willing to accept incremental improvement and the defensive glass is more important. The other teams are going to miss a lot of shots (at least half) and the Suns cannot let them get a second chance. When the Suns clean up the defensive glass they're nearly impossible to beat.
[Read JSun's complete preview here]

Apricot: One of the Suns' biggest weakeness is continuing to have a great team chemistry. The group needs to continue to work on this and not let petty differences get in their way of going deep into the playoffs. They also need to figure out a way to get past Dallas and/or San Antonio in the playoffs.
[Read Apricot's complete preview here]

What are the goals for this team?

TexSUN: To win a championship, and have fun while doing it.

sunofa: A Championship. D'Antoni can talk about not concentrating on that, and that's a good mindset, but in reality, that's the only thing left for this team.
[Read sunofa's complete preview here]

JSun: To create reliable bench players. I'm not sure how this is done, but if someone is needed for ten minutes in a playoff game, the Suns need to get someone in there that can contribute - at least a little. This means developing them during the season.
[Read JSun's complete preview here]

Apricot: Their goal is to of course get to the NBA finals and win a championship!
[Read Apricot's complete preview here]

How will the Suns finish the regular season?

TexSUN: 60-22
sunofa: 63-19
Apricot: 59-23
Poll Result: 60-64 wins

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