Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is six weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next six weeks. This week is the Pacific Division. Today is the Phoenix Suns.
2011-12 Record: 33-33
Key Losses: Steve Nash (signed with L.A. Lakers), Grant Hill (signed with L.A. Clippers), Michael Redd (Free Agent)
Key Acquisitions: Luis Scola (signed from Houston), Goran Dragic (signed from Houston), Michael Beasley (signed from Minnesota),
|Goran Dragic||Jared Dudley||Michael Beasley||Luis Scola||Marcin Gortat|
|Kendall Marshall||Shannon Brown||Wesley Johnson||Markieff Morris||Jermaine O'Neal|
|Sebastian Telfair||P.J. Tucker||Channing Frye|
If Phoenix wanted to stay in playoff contention in a post Steve Nash world, they may have raided the right team to accomplish that goal. The Rockets have been knocking on the door for the Playoffs for years. So taking on Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, stepping into those gigantic shoes left by Steve Nash, should keep Phoenix relatively competitive.
The Suns definitely got younger and have a lot of intriguing players dotting their roster.
Dragic shined in 2010 in relief for Nash and created a lot of value for himself. In a four-game stretch in January, Dragic scored 19.3 points per game, including a 32-point effort against the Jazz. Dragic can still play and play very well. Maybe not Nash well, but well.
Scola too should have a few good years left in him even as he gets older. Playing alongside Marcin Gortat should open up some space for him and take a load off him in the post, something that did not happen in Houston where he was the team's lone post threat.
Opportunity abounds for young players too.
Michael Beasley will have a shot to contribute in a new environment. As will Wesley Johnson (acquired from Minnesota) and rookie Kendall Marshall. Opportunity is not something waste.
The Suns have already been hit by a major injury from one of their most productive players.
It was announced last week that Channing Frye will be out indefinitely because of an enlarged heart. This is a crushing blow as Frye's ability to stretch the floor serves to give Gortat and Scola space in the post and makes him a great weapon in the pick and rolls. He averaged 10.5 points per game last year, shooting 41.6 percent. That was his lowest in the last three years.
He might have benefited significantly from Steve Nash and his passing ability. But this is a critical weapon at power forward. A big mix up and a true stretch-4. It is never good to receive this bad news, and hopefully Frye will be healthy enough to play again in the future. This injury goes far beyond basketball.
This seems to be a season that will test the legendary Phoenix training staff. Jermaine O'Neal has been a walking injury for the better part of the last decade. The Suns will be wringing whatever they can get out of him.
Whenever you lose a superstar player, there are going to be questions. Steve Nash kept his usage rate pretty low, but there was no doubt that the Suns' offense was built around Nash and his ability to create with the ball. So the question is what will Phoenix look like?
That is a big question. One Alvin Gentry will have to answer pretty quickly. This team could look very very different.
Is this a team that will work with a Dragic/Gortat pick and roll? Or will the team go in a different direction featuring Scola in the post or Beasley on the perimeter?
That is a question no one but Gentry can probably answer at this point. And with a team in transition, even with talent, things could get ugly.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Suns? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by hashtagging #SunsDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Suns throughout the day.