Don’t let the Sun go down on... Phoenix
The last four years, the Phoenix Suns were the most watched team in the game. All the spectators, the sports news magazines, and the papers talked about them.
With Nash running the show, Amare’s amazing athletic abilities, Shawn Marion’s combo of speed and athleticism, Raja Bell's three-point shots, Barbosa's speed, and Diaw's ability to play all the positions on the court, Mike Dantoni’s “7 second or less” philosophy was perfect for this team.
Why was it perfect? Because, as I noted above, the ability of each player to run the floor, know what to do and where to be. Not to mention, Nash knew how to find the right player in the right place at the right time.
But the Suns had one problem, getting over that “hump” called San Antonio. What was the “hump”?
Was it Steve Nash's bloody nose that didn’t stop bleeding? Was it Robert Horry knocking Nash to the ground? Was it Diaw and Amare’s suspension? Or was it a three-point shot by a player who hasn’t hit more the 10 his whole career?
All these issues don't have much to do with basketball. Yes, San Antonio was a great team and had lots of experience, but the Suns could have beaten them last year.
Yes, Phoenix did need a big man, but not that big. Just think of a team that included, Nash, Bell (Richardson is good too), Marion, Grant Hill coming of the bench, and Stoudemire.
But the Suns, last year, gave the keys to the team to Mr. Steve Kerr, a great and smart player who was influenced by San Antonio coach Greg P. and Lakers coach Phil J.
Steve has been trying to turn the Phoenix Suns into the Spurs. He compared Nash to Tony Parker, saying that the two are almost the same, with an advantage to Nash because Nash is a better shooter and passer.
Now, Kerr was hoping that if Phoenix could play defense they would be able to get over the “hump," so he made a gutsy move and traded Marion for Shaq.
Up to now, I am still trying to figure out how this move helped the defense, considering Marion was Phoenix’s best defender for years. He could guard any player from 1 to 5.
While Shaq is looking very good this year, better then he has looked in a long time, Shaq is changing the Phoenix Suns' game. The players are not happy and are not doing what we know they can do.
Is it worth it for the Suns to go for a good Shaq or keep their four other starters happy?
This brings me to my second point—coach Terry Porter.
Terry Porter coached for two years in Milwaukee. The first year, the Bucks had a decent year, but the second year was not so good, and Porter was dismissed.
After the Bucks, Porter went to San Antonio, picked up some pointers from Greg P., and became good friends with Steve Kerr.
However, with Porter as coach, the Phoenix Suns are lost, and a change needs to be made. The style the coach and GM want do not fit these players.
When you hear the names on the team (without seeing them play lately), you think you hear the names of a dream team:
Nash (two-time MVP)
Richardson (Dunk Champ, great future)
Hill (All-Star player, said to be the smartest player in the game)
Stoudemire (future MVP)
Shaq (four-time champion, MVP)
Barbosa (sixth man of the year, fastest man in the game)
WOW...what a team. They have to be the best team in the league. Think about it.
Let’s compare the Suns starting five to that of the Lakers (the best team today).
Nash vs. Fisher = Advantage Suns
Richardson vs. Bryant = Advantage Lakers
Hill vs. Walton = Advantage Suns
Stoudemire vs. Gasol = Advantage Suns
Shaq vs. Bynum = Advantage Suns
That's a four to one advantage for the Suns.
Where are the Lakers and where are the Suns? The Lakers are playing happy, are playing like a team, playing for each other, while the Suns are...Anyone?
How can they be playing as bad as they are playing? The players don’t look happy, they don’t look like they want to play. Changes need to be made.
Here are some suggestions:
- Replace Terry Porter with an experienced coach (like a Jeff Van Gundy)
- Trade Shaq for a defensive center that can run the fast game with Nash (like a Marcus Camby)
- Trade Stoudemire for a young athletic defensive PF (like an Al Jefferson)
- Trade Stoudemire for Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince (maybe Shaq and Wallace can dominate the inside together)
- Save money and have a mediocre team.
I would go with option No. 1, which needs to be done before the trade deadline so an experienced coach can get the players on top again.
While I think Porter is a good coach, and would do well with younger players, the Phoenix Suns, with all their highly accomplished veterans, need a coach who has been there and done that.
Of course, if Porter changes his ways, and becomes a friend to the players and not there boss, it can also turn around for the good.
This is the year. I’m sure you made some money from the way Phoenix played the last couple of years. So…Don’t let the Sun go down on Phoenix yet.
Avi M. Scher
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