Let's call this Suns Preview Lite, or Suns Pseudo Preview. This one is for the rest of the SB Nation. Alex, Trevor, Panama and I will soon come up with something much more verbose and impressive in the coming weeks. So, allow this to serve as that little hit to keep you from full on Suns withdrawal.
Team Name: Phoenix Suns
Last Year's Record: 54-28
Key Losses: Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson
Key Additions: Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress,
1) What significant moves were made in the offseason?
Off the court, Robert Sarver leveled the front office. Gone are Steve Kerr and David Griffin. In their place is former player agent Lon Babby as President of Basketball Operations and Lance Blanks as General Manager. Other additions to the front office include John Treloar at new Director of Player Personnel.
2) What are the team's biggest strengths?
Collective Depth, Experience, Flexibility, The Bench, Underdog Status, Team Chemistry.
Collective depth could also be called selective depth. The Suns may be able to go 10-11 deep but said depth may not be in all the right places. Nevertheless, the Suns return one of the best second units in the NBA and have enhanced it with the additions of Childress and Warrick.
The additions of Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu allow Steve Nash to play off the ball more. The idea is that with Turk's ball handling skills, the Suns can utilize Nash's high shooting percentage to make up some of the scoring they lost with Amare Stoudemire's departure. The move also allows Nash to rest more and reduce the normal wear and tear he obtains during the normal 82 game season at PG. Childress can play at the 2 or 3 and provides a solid bench presence to spell either Jason Richardson or Grant Hill.
Last season the Suns weren't picked to win anything. The experts said the usual: Phoenix was too soft on the boards, they couldn't play defense, yet they didn't have enough firepower to run like the old SSOL days. Alvin Gentry and Co. responded to the predictions by creating a hybrid version of the D'Antoni led Suns that ran wild when they could, yet also continued use of the pick and roll. Robin Lopez's development allowed for his use as an inside scoring option.
3) What are the team's weaknesses?
Size, Front Court Depth, Age
Robin Lopez is a curly headed beast who made huge strides last season after overcoming some early season injuries and the infamous "glass door" incident. But he has spine problems that may prove to be chronic and catastrophic to the Suns. If he goes down for any significant length of time, the season could easily go sideways for Phoenix. Then again, they made a nice playoff push without his presence last season. Let's just say life is easier with a healthy Lopez.
The same goes for Grant Hill and Steve Nash, both who reside on the wrong side of 30 continue to defy age and the experts by playing 80 something games per season. Significant injuries (knockin on wood) could make things pretty dang difficult for the Suns.
Amare Stoudemire was correctly deemed to be a defensive liability, however he brought down 20+ points and 9 boards a game last season. No one expects that individually from Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye or Hakim Warrick. The Suns have once again imparted the "rebound by committee" plan due to their lack of enforcers up front. Rookie Gani Lawal and Dwayne Jones should help out in the dirtworker role yet both of them are offensive liabilities at this point.
4) What are the goals for this team?
It begins with acclimating the new acquisitions and finding the chemistry that catapulted the Suns into the 3 seed of the playoffs then Western Conference Finals last season. A run at the post season is a reasonable goal for them. But a deep run in a reloaded Western Conference will be difficult. But if we've learned anything from last season, this team is capable of nearly anything when running on all cylinders.
5) What Could Have the Biggest influence on the upcoming season?
Chemistry. Injuries. Size
There are a flood of "if's" surrounding the Phoenix Suns entering the 2010-11 season. If Robin Lopez's back gives him trouble and results in significant time off the court, the Suns could be in for a long season due to their lack of front court size. If Steve Nash misses significant time, is Goran Dragic ready to step in to the starters shoes? If the new guys cannot play together, make up for Amare's loss... if, if, if...Bad news all around. That's the pessimistic and "expert" view. On the other hand, the new guys know how to play the game, it's up to Alvin Gentry to mix and match. After some experimentation, this team could be a very tough match up for a lot of teams. Gentry even believes they are better than last season. I think he may be right.
Predicted Regular Season Record: 51-31
BRING ON THE SEASON BOYS!!! There's a whole mess of local and overseas Suns fans who CANNOT WAIT to see how this squad performs come tip off.