Have you ever been to the Phoenix area? It’s really sunny and at times, the terrain makes you feel like you’re on the planet, Mars. It’s a weird contrast between the modern architecture and well, the desert. It seems like a giant stretch to compare the 2010-2011 Phoenix Suns to the landscape of Phoenix and its neighboring cities like Tuscon, but in a way, it is. A majority of the pieces from last season’s surprising team is back, but one giant chunk is missing, and it’s going to feel weird for the Suns in January.
In case you’ve been living under a rock the last four months, Phoenix’s dominant paint presence Amar’e Stoudemire joined the Knicks in the off season and became a fashion icon and self proclaimed savior of New York basketball. Stoudemire averaged around 8.9 rebounds per game and 23 ppg last season and the Suns despite the best intentions failed to fill that gaping hole in their line up.
Obviously, Robin Lopez, the Goofus to his brother, Brook’s Gallant, will become the man in the middle for the Suns, but will that be enough in the Western Conference? Lopez was strong in the playoffs against a banged up Bynum, but can Lopez hang on a nightly basis? Lopez can’t really count on Phoenix’s other big man, Channing “Milhouse” Frye to rebound and clog up the middle since Frye appears to be scared of rebounding and the paint altogether.
After a disastrous season in Toronto, Hedo Turkoglu has made his way out to the desert (no word on how his wife feels about the move). On NBA TV, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley seemed optimistic that the 2009 version of Hedo would come to play. While Turkoglu won’t be a monster in the middle like Stoudemire, he’s going to make the offense a lot more interesting. With Turkoglu as the power forward, the Suns could essentially run the same offense as the Magic. One problem though: Robin Lopez is no Dwight Howard.
In addition, Josh Childress makes a slightly triumphant return to the Association after a couple of seasons in Greece and Hakim Warrick have joined the team.
The Suns are a good team, but are they good enough to keep up with the top four teams in the Western Conference (Lakers, Jazz, Thunder, Mavericks)? We didn’t think much of them last season and they made it all the way to the Western Conference finals. So, we can’t necessarily write them off as a middle of the road team. Steve Nash is still Steve Nash and very capable of doing those amazing Steve Nash things at the age of 36; same goes for Grant Hill at the age of 38. Yet at some point, these two will break down and act their age finally and become “Men Of A Certain Age” (This Fall on TNT).
Who know what’s going to happen with the lower half of the Western Conference as well? Maybe the Clippers can get it together or even the Warriors and Kings (although, let’s not kid ourselves) and of course, there’s Spurs will still hang around and make it interesting.
Predictions & Fun Facts:
- Phoenix will nab the sixth seed in the Western Conference and will slug it out with the OK City Thunder in the first round
- Goran Dragic will break a lot of ankles
- Did you know that Jared Dudley is a big fan of the film, Inception?
- Alvin Gentry will not throw up again. : (
- Key Twitter Accounts: @JaredDudley619, @SethPo(SB Nation-Arizona Writer)
- Sites: Bright Side Of The Sun
And for no reason, here’s the Phoenix Suns’ Gorilla slamming through a burning ring of fire.