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Phoenix Suns season autopsy, 2008-09

Autopsy Report

Phoenix Suns, 2008-2009 Season

1.0       CAUSE OF DEATH

The Patient was pronounced dead on April 15, 2009 after battling a season long case of Change Frustration complicated by an inability to Step up in Big Moments and the loss of a key functional component due to Retinal Detachment.

Throughout the season the Patient had moments of remission, at times looking healthy and revived but the gradual decline which began during training camp was never able to be arrested despite the sometimes panicked steps taken such as a mid-season trade and the replacement of the team's head (coach).

The Patient ended last season with all parts publicly committed to improved defensive efforts and yet some aging organs, most notably the NASH, the BELL and the AMARE resisted efforts to adjust their style of play.

This conflict between the new head (coach) and those and other less well known organs ultimately culminated in death by what has been positively diagnosed as System Rejection Syndrome.


Team chemistry was examined using traditional and established methods of exploration. Findings indicate that while inter-organ cooperation appeared to be highly functional as evidenced by various skits, pranks and smiles there was an underlying negative correlation between key components which was manifested in declining defensive results.

2.1 Offensive Output

The Patient's offensive output as measured by points per game at 109.4; field goal percentage at 50.38%; and points per 100 possessions at 111.2 was ranked first among all 30 teams sampled.

This high level of scoring output was fueled by the continued efficient production of NASH and resurgence of O'NEAL. These organs were supported by multiple talented options including BARBOSA, RICHARDSON, HILL and STOUDEMIRE. Placed in combination, these elements proved highly explosive.

2.2 Defensive Throughput

Defensively, the same combination of explosive elements proved insufficient to the denial of rim penetration leading to poor results as measured by typical standards. The Patient ranked 26th out of 30 in points allowed per 100 possessions at 108.5 and 22nd in field goal percentage allowed at 46.66%.

Compared to previous seasons, rebounding improvements (ranked 11th overall in rebounding rate) were off-set but a massive decline in turnover ratio which was second to last at 15.7 per game.

High defensive throughput is believed to be the result of non-mobile big men O'NEAL and STOUDEMIRE who have proven unwilling or unable to defend what is commonly referred to as the "pick and roll play". This was exacerbated by the back-court combination of NASH and RICHARDSON who are known for their explosive offensive results but lack defensive makeup or desire as the case may be.

2.3 Reserve Elements

The Patient's reserve components showed significant improvement over seasons past. As a group they were young, energetic and highly willing to engage to the best of their abilities on both ends of the court.

In a season marked by constant heartache and pain only the bench elements provided consistently high entertainment value based on their constant effort and lack of complaining at whatever situation they faced.


This Patient in keeping with its phoenix-like nature will rise again next fall. It remains unclear however, if it will once again achieve previous levels of glory or will fall victim to its continued defensive liabilities and languish in the bottom tier of its sport.

Many band aids have been applied in attempt to hold together the aging body and yet those efforts instead of improving the performance of the organism have had an opposite effect.

The Patient's general manager KERR is faced with numerous options for revival this summer ranging from minor changes to a complete organ transplant.

KERR's priority seems to be a long term commitment to interim head (coach) GENTRY to provide some semblance of consistency. Combined with an extension of NASH and the return of HILL and BARBOSA this would provide a blue print moving forward based on up tempo explosive outputs.

To improve defensively, the Patient would need to replace either O'NEAL or STOUDEMIRE with a more "active big man" that can "defend the pick and roll". Another needed change would involve the amputation of the poorly grafted RICHARDSON which could serve to both improve defensive capacity if properly replaced and also relieve financial pressures which cause un-do stress on the body.

There is however a strong case to be made for complete transplant replacing the aging organs with the best possible young donor components available. This would surely set the Patient back a number of years but might also be a medically necessary procedure for the long term viability of the franchise.

It remains to be seen what prescription KERR will take. We will continue to monitor the situation as all attempts at revival are made.

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