The season kicks off October 26th @ Portland. The Suns, positions 1 through 3, might be the deepest team in the league. The problem comes with front court size and depth. They have a promising young 7-footer in Robin Lopez, but a late season back problem, a bulging disc, kept him out for the last month of the season and deep into the playoffs. With the departure of Amare Stoudemire, Lopez will be asked to play more minutes this season, and an increase in workload means the risk of reinjury is a genuine concern.
Outside of Lopez, the Suns do not have a solid inside defender. Hedo Turkoglu, the projected starter at Power Forward, is a natural Small Forward. How he'll play at that position is anyone's guess. Channing Frye, expected to backup both Hedo and Lopez, is a terrible defender. Hakim Warrick will see time at the 4, and while lengthy, he doesn't quite have the bulk or strength to be an effective inside defender, and is closer to a tweener 3/4 than a true 4. Other options at the 4 include 2nd year man Earl Clark and rookie Gani Lawal, but neither seem ready to contribute at an NBA level.
The Suns season will ride on how well the front court can play.
Steve Nash - One of the more brilliant offensive minds in basketball. Terrible one-on-one defender, but isn't afraid to take a charge. He's nearing the end of his career, but keeps in phenomenal shape. I'd expect a slight dip in minutes, but anything under 31.5 would be surprising.
Jason Richardson - A great scorer. Shot a career high 45.8% from beyond the arc last season. The loss of Amare means the Suns will expect J-Rich to step up his point production. A good rebounder for his size. Average defender at best.
Grant Hill - 38 years old and still going strong. May be the Suns best defender. Not as fast or explosive as he used to be, but makes up for it with his high basketball IQ. With so many swingmen on the team, and with his advanced age, I would expect Hill's minutes to take a big dip this season.
Hedo Turkoglu - The biggest question mark coming into the season. Can Hedo handle the load at the 4? May get abused inside by some of the more physical power forwards in the league.
Robin Lopez - Solid inside defender. Continues to improve offensively. Word has it he spent the offseason working with Bill Cartwright on his post game. Will his back hold up with an increase in minutes?
Goran Dragic - The third year guard showed flashes of brilliance in several key games last season. A solid defender, Goran will be expected to back up Nash once again, and will be relied upon to lead a deep second unit to the kind of success it had last season.
Channing Frye - A virtual castoff from Portland, Channing Frye surprised everybody last season with his sharp shooting ability. Not an especially good defender or rebounder, and he will be expected to step up his point production with the loss of Amare.
Jared Dudley - Intelligent, hard-nosed defensive player with a knack for knocking down the 3, Dudley's contributions last season were a key to the success of the bench. He came into training camp looking leaner, so expect Dudley to have another great year in Phoenix.
Hakim Warrick - Long, athletic tweener with great leaping ability, Warrick will be expected to play above the rim and help give the Suns the dunking prowess it will sorely miss with Stoudemire's departure.
Josh Childress - After a two-year stint in Europe, Josh Childress is back in the NBA. An efficient scorer with all-around good skills, but with the logjam of 2's and 3's on the team will the minutes be there?
Earl Clark - Now entering his 2nd year, Clark was a disappointment during the summer leagues. The kid has tons of talent, but his drive to strive is questionable.
Gani Lawal - The Suns first pick of the draft. Had an impressive summer league. Plays with ferocity. With aspirations to stay atop the Western conference, it's doubtful the young rookie will play many minutes for the Suns this season.
The Rest of the Bench / Camp Fodder
Chucky Atkins, Zabian Dowdell, Matt Janning, Dwayne Jones, Garret Siler
[ Edited by TheSixthRing on Jun 24, 2011 at 11:08:19 ]
[ Edited by TheSixthRing on Dec 27, 2011 at 11:12 AM ]