FanPost

Suns 2008 Player review

We must go forward!  Let's see what we have.  A good review of players is here .   I will attempt to put a fan spin on it, with my take from my viewing and reading experience.

Steve Nash

Overall, a nice season, 17 and 11,  with over 50% from the field, 47% from three, and 90% from the line.  His assist average tailed toward the end of the year due to the shift in offensive emphasis that came with the Shaq trade. 

Contract status:

Signed through 2008-2009, with a team option in 2009-2010.  His 2008-2009 salary is $12,250,000.  Unless Steve has a disastrous season next year, I would think the Suns exercising the option would be a no-brainer.  If Steve and the team have another good year,  thought should be given to an extension before exercising the option.

Observations:

The coaching braintrust needs to put their heads together and devise an offense that will take greater advantage of Steve's dazzling shooting numbers.  Part of Nash's great value is that he offers much more on offense than he hurts on defense.  I believe we should devise sets where Steve is the off-guard.  In addition, we must re-establish his value as an improvisational floor general in the 2004-2005 mold.  Specifically, bring the pick and roll out of hiding and re-establish it as a feared bread-and-butter play.  In addition, the alley-oop must come back.  STAT and Shaq can be on the receiving end of these, but I see no reason that Hill and Diaw cannot fill the Matrix role in this crowd-pleasing play.  These plays must be honed to perfection.

Shaquille O'Neal

Mixed results for the Suns.  At times, Shaq appeared to be the missing piece.  Other times he just looked old.  He averaged about  12 and 10 in a Suns uni.  His effect on the play of Amare was positive.

Contract status:

Signed through 2009-2010.  His 2008-2009 salary is $20,000,000.  There's nothing we can do about this unless Shaq offers to renegotiate for another year or retire, or if some team like the Knicks wants him.

Observations:

As stated before, At times he looked like just what we wanted.  We can't help the free throws.  I think Shaq needs to concentrate on getting some more lift and making close-in shopts.  I think he missed two or three of those per game.  The passers often got him the ball too far out.  When Shaq was with the Lakers, he would pass it back out, re-establish position closer in, then get a return pass.  Often I saw Shaq pass it back out, only to see it go somewhere else.

Raja Bell

The stats were down a bit due to a slow start and injuries.  He came on, however, and provided some good offense down the stretch and in the playoffs, as well as his usual solid D.  his 12 ppg and 40% from 3 were about what we have come to expect.

Contract status:

Signed through 2009-2010.  His 2008-2009 salary is $5,000,000.  This is a favorable contract for the Suns.

Observations: 

We know what we are getting with Raja.  I saw him drive a bit more this year.  This is something we should use.  He isn't the best on the dribble, but I was pleased to see it as it puts more pressure on the defense.  There are some who say he has lost a lot on defense, but I haven't seen it.  At his contract, he is a keeper.

Amare Stoudemire

Amare finished witha 25 and 9 season with a 58% shooting percentage.  These numbers are strikingly similar to his breakout season of 2004-2005.  The difference is that he has developed his midrange jump shot, which became very reliable.  That shot deserted him in the Spur series, but there's no reason to believe it won't be back.  His rebounding declined after Shaq came on, but the scoring went up.

Contract status:

Signed through 2009-2010, with a player option for 2010-2011.  His 2008-2009 salary is $15,070,550.  It is reasonable to assume that if the team prospects are not looking up, he will decline the option and test the market at that time, especially if he has not had more knee trouble.

Observations:

Amare has become a franchise player.  He has made defensive strides, which must continue.  Tim Duncan no longer routinely abuses him.  I saw some of the best sequences I have ever seen in the elimination game.  His rebounding has suffered, though.  I think that even with Shaq around, he should still average 10-12 rebounds.  The biggest improvement I want to see is meshing with Boris.  If those two really want to win, they would spend some time over the summer focusing on each others' games.  One other note - the normally surehanded Amare muffed a few passes that I usually see him scoop up like Lester Hayes with his stickum.  I have to think that was an aberration.  Keep the man.

Boris Diaw

Boris completed an up and down season where at times he appeared lifeless, and at times he flashed the form of the 05-06 playoffs.  He finished at about 8 points and 4 assists, his worst statistical season as a Sun.  In the playoffs, he showed more value, having a pair of 20 point games including a near triple double in the lone win.

Contract status:

Signed through 2010-2011, with a player option in 2011-2012.  His 2008-2009 salary is $9,000,000.  One positive thing about this contract is that it never goes up.   right now, I would think he would be difficult to trade, unless some team thinks they can coax a consistent 15-8-8 out of him, which I consider Boris entirely capable of accomplishing.

Observations:  A mixed result this season.  The contract is an albatross unless Boris decides to become more consistent and bring it every night.  As I mentioned in Amare's review, the future of the Suns rests on whether these two can mesh their games or not.  If a GM comes up with an offer for Boris, we would be tempted.  I think if D'Antoni is gone, Boris would be shopped also.  I still say he is unguardable if he puts his mind to it.  I would like to see him and Amare as bookend forwards for the next four years.  Can he visit Amare's trainer?

Leandro Barbosa

Leo is infuriating as he is amazing.  The Brazilian Blur is still as quick as anyone.  His jumper deserted him toward season's end, but he still followed up his Sixth Man of the Year season with solid 15 ppg numbers.  He still misses way too many layups, or his FG % would be well over 50%.

Contract status:

Signed through 2010-2011, with a player option for 2011-2012.  His 2008-2009 salary is $6,100,000.  There are those that say he is trade bait, but this contract is favorable.

Observations.

LB had a nice year except for the aforementioned layups.  He has shown signs of being able to handle end of quarter and late game situations, but still has trouble in that are.  I feel like if ha can avoid stupid fouls, and concentrate on making those flying layups, he could continue to be our instant offense.  I would keep him, but listen to any offers.  If he is the key to getting Kevin Love of Batum, I would be very tempted to deal, especially if Tucker's shot has improved like they say it has.

Grant Hill

What's not to like?  Except for that untimely injury bug, Grant was just what the doctor ordered for the Suns.  He averaged 14 points, and provided a n extra passer.  I think he suffered after the addition of O'Neal, which congested the lane more, but oveall a nice surprise.

Contract status:

Grant holds a player option for 2008-2009.  His 2008-2009 salary would be $1,9760,400. This is a bargain, and the Suns should do everything in their power to get him to exercise the option.  If D'Antoni goes, there is a chance Grant would not re-up, especially if the new coach is a practice monster.

Observations:

I like Grant's game.  He developed a serviceable 3 point shot, and filled in admirably in Marion's defensive role after the trade.  I think he will be coming off tyhe bech with reduced minutes.  It is hard not to conclude that the groin injury was at least partly due to overuse.  GH adds a lot to the team, and it was a big blow to not have him in the playoffs.  Keep him.

Brian Skinner

Skinner was at times just what the Suns wanted, KT lite, if you will.  He didn't have Thomas' nasty streak, and he can't shoot free throws, but the Suns were surprised to see he can shoot, and that he adds some shotblocking.  He somehow ended up on the DNP list for a while, and in the Spur series showed that he is no KT.

Contract status:

He completed his contract at the end of the playoffs.  The Suns should try to keep him if the draft does not yield a frontcourt player.  He may be looking for more than the MDE, and he just does not offer enough for that.

Observations:

He is a nice player to have as the 8th or 9th man, but he should have been used more.  As I said above, the Suns should consider keeping him only if the draft yields a guard or small forward.  If we get Kevin Love, Skinner is gone.

Gordan Giricek

Gordan was a pleasent surprise.  He is versatile enough to be the sixth man and spot starter for Raja.  He had several games in double figures, and his defense was to me a surprise.

Contract status:

He completed his contract at the end of the playoffs.  In my mind, Gordan was a steal, and could even get someone's midlevel exception.  I think we should use part of it on him.  This is a valuable player who can plug a lot of holes.

Observations:

As said, Gordan was a nice surprise, and will be in demand.  I especially liked his defense and the fact that he can handle the ball, and make decisions.  We should concentrate on freeing him on screens .  Try to keep him.

Alando Tucker

AT has been a forgotten man in the Suns' scheme.  In limited minutes ha flashed some scoring ability, but also showed the tendency to think he is still in college and playing against 6-7 centers.

Contract status:

Signed through 2008-2009, with team options for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.  We can keep hin the year after that with a qualifying offer.  His 2008-2009 salary is $1,101,880.  In effect, this is alando's contract year, since he will not be renewed unbless he shows some value on the court.

We have heard that he has developed a shot.  I saw his gaudy DL numbers, but I seriously doubt the big men are even up to Big Ten status in that league.  However, shooting percentages don't lie, and he did develop a jumper.  But in the games he did play late in the season, he seemed to revert to trying to take it inside, where his size is against him.  Whether we pick up his option after next season is up for debate, but for now, he seems a lock for next year's team.

DJ Strawberry

DJ showed NBA caliber defense that will keep him in the league for a while.  The shot looks ugly, and his decision making is what you would expecy t for a rookie.  But I like him.

Contract status

The Suns have a team option for 2008-2009 for $711,517.  I consider this money well spent.  His deal is not a burden.

Observations:

Keep DJ!  I like the defensive attitude.  He and Leandro need to spend some time together.  His shot clanking is a concern, so I would have him shoot 1000 jumpers a day all summer, then play on the Summer team again.

Eric Piatowski

Eric had a good season as lead towell-waver.  He didn't offer much, but hit an occasional 3 to let us know he was still there.

Contract status:

He has completed his contract, and is a free agent.

Observations:

There is no reason that I can think of why Pike should be on next year's team.  He should retire.

Sean Marks

Sean showed some ability to hit shots, rebound, and even shot-block.  When he played, it was mostly in a blowout game.

Contract status:

He has completed his contract, and is a free agent.

Observations:

I do not think he should be retained, unless the Suns do not add any other third center option.  since they have several forwards (Diaw, STAT) that can play center, I say goodbye to Marks.

Linton Johnson

LJ showed some athleticism in his 10 day contract.

Contract status:

He has completed his contract, and is a free agent.

Observations:

Linton should work hard over the summer, and someone, perhaps the Suns, will extend him a training camp contract or a minumum make good so he could play on the summer league team.

#15 draft choice

I am including this in the review because this Hawk's pick has been around for so long, it almost seems like part of the team.  There are a wide range of bodies available, and it is imperative that the Suns strike gold on this pick.

Contract status:

The #15 pick carried a $1,308,000 salary for the 2007 draft class.  This will go up maybe 5%.

Observation:

I am hoping for Kevin Love or Nicholas Batum, but Donta Green and Darrell Arthur have been bandied about.  Some of you want DJ Augustin, but I am not sure.  He is probably no more than Brevin Knight, but could be Iverson.  Outside of the fire-the-coach talk, this will be the main source of conversation for Suns fans for the next two months.

Comments?