Is the Sun setting for the Phoenix Suns?

I felt that since the NBA season is just kicking off, I would start my first blog post by writing about the recently started NBA season and the Phoenix Suns.  Just before the first game of their regular season, I sent out a tweet asking if it was going to be a long season this year for the Suns.  From what I have seen early on, it sure looks like it will be.  Let me explain some facts about why the sun may be setting for the Phoenix Suns, at least for this year.

Phoenix SunsFirst and foremost, they got rid of their most prolific scorer, at least over the past two years.  Averaging 23.1 points per game, Amar’e Stoudemire was among the top 10 in the NBA last year.  At 6’10”, he was also the Suns best rebounder by far, averaging 8.9 per game last year.  He also averaged more minutes played than anyone else on the team, and played in all 82 games.  At almost 28 years old, he fit well into the up tempo, fast paced Suns offense.  He was definitely the Suns best all-around big man, and a great pick and roll guy to work with Steve Nash.  How do you go about replacing that?

So, let’s take a look at what the Phoenix Suns have left as starters for the 2010-2011 season:

Steve Nash Phoenix SunsSteve Nash – At 36, he’s not getting any younger, or any faster.  Instead of bringing in more talent so he doesn’t have to work as hard, it looks as though Nash is going to have to carry the team if they plan on going anywhere this season.

Jason Richardson – In his second year with Phoenix, Jason will have to continue to develop into a more rounded player.  He is pretty much one dimensional – known only as a scorer.  He needs to work on getting to the free throw line more often, and then making them.  He will also need to step it up on defense.

Grant Hill – Although some have said he revitalized his career when he came to Phoenix, Hill has never been more than an average player since his ankle troubles.  At 38, he is no spring chicken, and is surely looking at the downside of his career.  He is pretty soft as a player, but one thing he does well is shoot a high percentage from inside the arc.

Robin Lopez – In only his third NBA season, it’s time Mr. Lopez starts to develop as a rebounder, defender, and scorer on the inside.  Every team needs a member that can post up, and put a body on someone on defense.  Although he has been a starter so far this season, he hasn’t logged as many minutes as 3 of the subs coming off the bench.  I think there better be some improvements, or his starting role may diminish.

Hedo Turkoglu – In his first year with the Suns, I feel that the Suns may be expecting too much from Hedo.  At 31, he has never been known for his speed or defense, and at 6’10”, he has only averaged 4.3 rebounds per game throughout his career.  Since the ’07-’08 season, where he averaged a career high of 19.5 points per game, his scoring has diminished every year since, to a low of 11.3 points per game last year.

There may be two bright spots in Goran Dragic, and Hakim Warrick.  It’s still too early to see how Goran’s NBA career will end up, at 24 and only 2 years in, but right now he is a pretty good backup to Steve Nash.  Hakim is off to his best start in his 5 year NBA career, but we are only 4 games into the season.  He just may have found a home.

Even though we are only 4 games into the 2010-2011 NBA season, there are signs that instead of getting better, the Suns got a lot worse this year.  Their veterans are getting a little long in the tooth, and their younger players don’t seem to be quite ready to step it up to the level they need, to be impact players.  The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are off to a 5-0 start.  At 1-3 for the regular season, and 2-6 during the pre-season, the Sun may very well have set for the Phoenix Suns, at least for now.

~ by Troy Erickson Realtor on November 4, 2010.

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