Phoenix Suns: 5 Reasons Next Year's Suns Will Shock the Western Conference 

Roberto Payne@@HouseofPayne555Contributor IJuly 24, 2012

Phoenix Suns: 5 Reasons Next Year's Suns Will Shock the Western Conference 

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    The Phoenix Suns have undergone several big changes this offseason, and it's easy to dismiss them for the upcoming season without the former face of the franchise in Steve Nash. It would be highly unwise to do so, though.

    The Phoenix Suns have quietly put together a solid team capable of surprising the NBA next season. They certainly won't be championship contenders, but they will be a factor in the playoff picture and a tough team to match up against on a nightly basis.

    Read on for five reasons why next year's Phoenix Suns will shock the Western Conference in the team's first season without Steve Nash in almost a decade.

There Is Finally Youth on the Roster

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    For years, Phoenix went after experienced veterans in their chase for a title—even if that meant sacrificing draft picks and young players to acquire older, more seasoned players.

    This continued even after it was clear the team was no longer a title contender, and things did not look promising in the desert.

    Thankfully, things changed for the better this offseason.

    Gone was franchise player Steve Nash and arriving was Kendall Marshall, Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley.

    The painful loss of the veteran Nash was eased with promising young players, who will usher in a new era of Phoenix basketball.

    The best thing about these young guys is they have proven talent. It's not like the team went into complete rebuilding mode and traded assets for young players.

The Team Has More Scoring Threats Than Last Season

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    At times last season, the Phoenix Suns struggled to score effectively when Steve Nash was not on the court.

    This season, the team may not have a floor general like Nash, but it will have several scoring options on the court at all times.

    In the backcourt, Goran Dragic will be counted on to lead the attack. Dragic really came into his own near the end of last season, and he can both score and distribute the rock. Everything will go through him.

    In the frontcourt, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola are added to provide a scoring spark.

    Center Marcin Gortat has shown he can score reliably, but now the team has two other guys who can easily get up their own shots. I expect a big increase in points in the paint.

    Even off the bench there are scorers in Jared Dudley and Markieff Morris.

    Dudley is more of an opportunistic scorer, but Morris has the potential to be a force down low. He has put on a lot of muscle this offseason and looked really strong during the Vegas summer league.

    If anything, the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns will not struggle to put the ball in the basket.

Luis Scola Is Exactly What the Suns Needed

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    The Phoenix Suns won the amnesty auction for Luis Scola a little more then a week ago, giving the team a valuable low-post scorer.

    The Suns lost their last back-to-the-basket scorer in Amar'e Stoudemire and have really struggled to replace him the past couple years.

    The team had brought in Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat to be the frontcourt of the future, but Scola provides an immediate improvement at power forward over Morris.

    The duo of Scola and Gortat not only can rebound, but can also put up points in a hurry.

    Scola's many post moves will be welcome if the time comes when the threes aren't falling and a basket is needed.

    It's much easier to score down low than on the perimeter, and I expect a lot more points in the paint this upcoming season. If anything, opposing defenses know they have to be accountable for Scola, and that could free up open shots for others.

The Bench Looks Promising

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    For the better part of the past decade, the Phoenix Suns had the talent to go seven or eight deep on the bench and not much more than that.

    If a couple of the bench guys were off that night, the starters had to lead the team to the victory with little help.

    The best teams in the NBA usually have more than one or two players on the bench who can put up numbers and help the starters out.

    The Suns won't have a bench on par with the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs, but the Suns will have one of the better bench units in the NBA.

    With Kendall Marshall, Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris and Channing Frye coming off the bench, there will be no lack of able bodies. Morris in particular could shine with a bigger role of becoming the go-to guy off the bench.

    The team could still add a player or two, so this backup lineup could get even better in the next couple weeks.

In the Western Conference, Anything Can Happen

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    The talent level from seed No. 1-No. 8 in the Western Conference is so close that often, a hot or cold streak can drastically affect a team's seed.

    For example, this past season, the third-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz were separated by a mere five games.

    Every game is that much more important knowing that a three-game losing streak could drop you a couple seeds in the playoff race.

    This makes teams play hard every night and, as a fringe playoff team, the Suns especially can't afford to take any nights off.

    This is perfect for a now younger team, as it will help keep them focus throughout the season and make them a better team for it.