This time of year everyone is going to be writing themed stories, using corny clichés, and using the season as a way to write lazy stuff. We are no different.
A new year is upon us and it is time for us to see what the Phoenix Suns' (19-11) resolutions need to be. What does the team that has everything (that they didn't expect to have) need to strive for in the new year? Everyone looks in good shape, so losing weight is out of the equation. Hopefully nobody smokes and going back to college is not really high on the priority list. What to resolve... What?
Enough of me, let's get to what matters. The staff takes some New Year's Resolutions for the Phoenix Suns. Here we go.
Twenty-Fifth Topic: New Year's Resolutions
1. Breaking the Ice: What should the New Year's Resolution be for the entire whole of the Phoenix Suns franchise?
Jim Coughenour: To continue to make forward progression and not stand pat. This franchise has literally transmogrified from what many predicted to be a hopeless failure for years to come into possibly the most renascent team in the league. That momentum can't dissipate. The team needs to be just as aggressive and innovative this year, if not even to a higher degree, to get to where we all want them to be. Winning a championship is damn hard work (obviously we have experience in just how much a team can do and still fail) and I want to see more blood, sweat and tears.
Jacob Padilla: Win a darn championship. They've done pretty much everything else. They've had All-Stars, MVPs and Hall of Famers. They've won a heckuva lot of games and have used a highly entertaining style of basketball to win a lot of them. Now all that's left is the big one. It's probably not going to happen this year, but with Ryan McDonough and Jeff Hornacek running the show I'd like to think the Suns will have a shot sometime in the next few years.
Dave King: Win with the kids and retreads! Don't sell out by acquiring a bigger talent for the sake of a playoff run. This team can win without a single deal to "improve" and shouldn't do anything to screw up the chemistry.
Kris Habbas: To stay the course. They have cleared house and brought back a sense of pride, resolve, and a new (back to the old) culture that is conducive of a winning franchise. They have a great young coach, general manager, and overall front office that are working together to make this a respected franchise. Stay the course.
2. Who on the roster needs a New Year's Resolution the most right now? What is the resolution?
DK: Markieff Morris. He needs a resolution to never, ever go back to the player he was in his first two NBA years and to commit to becoming the best version of the player he's become now: good on offense and rebounding, and not embarassing on defense. Kieff's ceiling is still higher than today's player IF he keeps going down this road.
KH: Alex Len. A resolution to find some resolution with his ankle injuries so he can get back on the court. Not for the team, they do not need his production to win games as we have seen, but for him in general it would be nice to put one healthy foot in-front of the other on the court again.
JC: Eric Bledsoe. Despite the general infatuation many fans have with him I still want to see more. At the end of the season the Suns will likely be faced with moving him or maxing him. Right now he's providing slightly less production than our other point guard who makes just $7.5 million. I would just like him to crystallize the situation. Over the last 7 games, nearly a third of his 24 games, he is averaging just 14.3 points and 4.4 assists... If he finishes the season at about 16.5 and 5.5 the decision becomes somewhat nebulous.
3. In 2014 what do the Suns need to do better?
KH: Dress better. Look, I get to go in the locker room with these guys before and after every game and either I have no idea what fashion is or these guys are taking it to a near Lady Gaga level. I am the first to admit I am no fashionista, but man leather is not meant to be worn that way Archie Goodwin! Pants should not come in that color P.J. Tucker! Turtlenecks are great and all, but Miles Plumlee rocking one in Arizona seems extreme! Whatever happened to a nice suit? Or some dress jeans, a shirt, and a jacket? Man, I am getting old.
DK: (Kris, you really don't have any idea what fashion is) What the Suns need to do better in 2014 is get better at post-game interviews. Bledsoe and the Morrii need speech inflection coaching. Dragic, Frye, Green, Tucker and Plumlee are good in interviews, but the younger guys need some work in that area. And as the season progresses, their gonna be asked to do a lot more interviews.
JC: Everything. Nothing wrong with striving for improvement. This isn't a sport for resting on laurels. If you like being an indolent sluggard there are a sh&%load of McDonald's looking for fry cooks.
JP: The non-wardrobe related answer is attention to detail, particularly on defense and on the glass, but that extends to offense as well. Rotations need to be crisper, everyone on the team (minus Goran who has license to leak out as often as he likes) needs to be more disciplined with their box-outs and with pursuing the ball and guys need to play in the flow of the offense and to their strengths. The Suns are playing well but there are still plenty of little things that can and need to be cleaned up if the Suns are going to continue to get better as opposed to regressing.
4. Can a change (Resolution) result in a drop-off of what they are already doing well? If that is the case, do they need one?
KH: Yes. A change in attitude and direction can easily throw things off course for any team let alone a young team like the Suns. If they try to make radical changes, say to the gameplan, there could be a ripple effect. Using defense as an example, if the Suns try too hard to be a better defensive team they might lose some steam on offense which is the reason why they are 18-11 right now. Change can be good, improvements are always welcome, but they can come with a cost like the butterfly effect.
JC: No need to Terry Porter this team by trying to coerce them into being something they're not. With the job that Hornacek has done so far I have the utmost confidence that he can make whatever tweaks are necessary, and possible, without disrupting the balance he has achieved so far. Then there's the McMiracle factor. I still don't think he'd have any trepidation over pulling the trigger on any move (at any moment) that he feels makes the team better in the bigger picture.
JP: Perhaps, but the Suns don't need any dramatic changes. A little more effort here, a little more focus there and they will be right where they need to be.
DK: Notice I took Jim's suggestion that fixing one thing can hurt another, and didn't point out in the earlier answer about the rebounding. Jim's right that fixing one thing can hurt another. I just hope they DON'T change something for the sake of change, because it could hinder the team. But adding Len/Okafor to the backup C position would be a good move, still.
5. How have the expectations changed for the team after winning 18 of their first 29 games?
JC: I still have none. Obviously the team is a hell of a lot better than I (erroneously) predicted at the beginning of the season, but I'm not certain what their ceiling is anymore. They've left me nonplussed at every turn, so why shouldn't I expect more twists and turns the rest of this season and throughout the year. So I guess maybe I expect to be surprised? Either way, this has been a lot of fun so far and I'm just really enjoying Suns basketball.
JP: The expectations have changed from none at all to expecting the team to be a legitimate contender for a playoff spot. That's exactly how the Suns are looking at it, and as Dave just wrote, defensive improvement is the key to getting there.
DK: LOL heck yeah. In my other article this morning, my new ceiling for this team is the WCF. That's right. The Conference Finals. No one wants to play the Suns. The last three consecutive opponents, two of them playoff teams, have changed up their rotation to field two PGs at once. Now that the Suns are forcing other team's out of their comfort zone, you know their reputation precedes them. Finally.
KH: The expectation is that the Suns are better than initially thought so it is time to change the conversation to that of a potential playoff team. That is how they should be perceived by the fans, by the media, and by themselves internally going forward. They have to beat bad teams. They need to prove themselves against their peers in the standings. And they have to rise to the occasion against the Championship Contenders. Good?
BONUS: What is your personal New Year's Resolution?
JC: Maybe I will write a book. I'd like to hone my talents in the sports I play. Do well in school. Try to be the best parent, husband, friend, etc. that I can be. I could go on. I don't necessarily make New Year's resolutions, but it's a natural time for me to reassess where I stand in life and how I'm progressing. I'm really good at getting busy and forgetting things, so reminders are always helpful.
I've already covered enough on the Suns (insert random Kevin Love mention to screw with Kris), but for BSotS I hope we can continue to bring the quality content that (I hope) makes us one of the best sites providing Phoenix Suns coverage. And just like the Suns, I hope we can continue to improve to make things even better and become THE premiere platform for all that is Suns basketball. Special thanks to all of you readers that make this place so great, and possible for that matter. Happy New Year everybody and go Suns!
JP: I don't make New Year's resolutions. I'd like to think I'm awesome as is, but even if that's not the case I'm too lazy to change it.
DK: I gave this in the other article as well: stop selling the team short. I won't sugarcoat anything, but I no longer predict a disappointing win total. WCF!
KH: I am not a resolution guy on January 1st, but I make decisions to change my life for the positive when need be. If I want to lose weight in August I am not waiting until January to start. You know?
Bright Siders, what do you think? What is your New Year's Resolution for yourself, for the Suns, and for BSotS? (Please do not say Kevin Love)