Predicting the Phoenix Suns Rotation for 2012-13 Season
The Phoenix Suns have undergone a complete 360-degree overhaul this offseason, and there are new players everywhere. That leads to a remade rotation and some tough decisions for Alvin Gentry and his coaching staff.
Gentry has more talent on this roster than last season, but a couple spots will be fought for during training camp. Noticeably, the starting shooting guard and backup point guard spots will have fierce competition and intrigue.
This team might not be a championship contender, but there's youth and talent on the roster that hasn't been there in years. Excitement is high in the desert, and fans are looking for a possible playoff run. Read on for a prediction of the rotation of the Phoenix Suns and who will win camp battles.
Starting Point Guard: Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic was brought back to Phoenix this offseason, and it certainly wasn't to be the backup point guard. He will not only be the starting point guard, but also counted on as one of the leaders of the team.
He really came in to his own in the final month of last season, as Kyle Lowry went down and Dragic stepped in to the starting role. He put up solid numbers in his 28 games as a starter with 18 PPG, 8.4 APG and 1.8 SPG, showing he was ready to be a full time starter.
His balance of scoring ability and desire to pass has really improved in his year-and-a-half away from Phoenix. Particularly, his shot selection has improved dramatically, which is a sign of a matured player.
The coaching staff expects big things from Dragic from day one, and he seems more then ready to answer the call.
Starting Shooting Guard: Shannon Brown
Shannon Brown was the backup shooting guard for the majority of last season, but got a shot at starting toward the end of the year and didn't look back. He now comes to training camp in a battle for the starting spot with newly acquired Wesley Johnson.
Brown has a couple big advantages coming in to camp: his experience with Alvin Gentry's system and proven performance as the starter last season. Brown does need to work on a couple things, mainly shot selection, but his ability to create off the dribble and shoot the three ball are valuable to the offense.
Brown might be a better fit in the second unit, where scorers are needed, and Johnson might win the starting job near the end of the season but, for now, the job is Brown's to lose.
Starting Small Forward: Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley was another big signing made by the Phoenix Suns, and will be a huge factor in the success of the team this upcoming season. He's coming off a rough season in Minnesota and the change of scenery should help him out.
Beasley has the talent to score 18 to 20 points per game, but things such as arrests and bone-headed choices have hindered him drastically. Beasley has said he is ready to put his past behind him and focus more on basketball, a welcome sign for the Suns.
If the Suns are to have a productive season, Beasley will need to return to his 2010-11 form and be a key contributor to the team.
Starting Power Forward: Luis Scola
The Phoenix Suns absolutely stole Luis Scola from the amnesty waiver wire after he was cut by the Houston Rockets and Scola immediately will step in as the starting power forward. His addition to the frontcourt now gives the team a nice combo with Scola and Marcin Gortat.
Scola has proven to be a versatile scorer down low and can hit the mid-range jumper with regularity. His veteran presence will be key on a young team, and he's a solid role player for those young guys.
Scola's toughness will be a big factor for the Suns on both the offensive end, with his flurry of moves, and on the defensive end, with his rebounding ability. Don't be surprised is Scola leads the team in scoring.
Starting Center: Marcin Gortat
Marcin Gortat is coming off his best season as an NBA player and will look to build on that going into next season. Gortat showed he can rebound with the best of them, as his 10.0 rebounds per game last season was good for 8th in the NBA.
The departure of Steve Nash raises questions about his offensive ability. Gortat has really improved his ability to score with his back to the basket, but it will be a transition without the spoon fed dimes from Nash. New starter Goran Dragic does have around 30 games of experience of playing with Gortat, which should help out on the chemistry side.
If Gortat can replicate his numbers from last season, the Suns could have one of the more productive frontcourts in the league.
Backup Point Guard: Kendall Marshall
Sebastian Telfair is coming off a successful season and was the favorite to be the backup point guard, that was until Kendall Marshall was drafted.
Marshall was the first-round draft pick of the Phoenix Suns and has the inside track for the backup point guard role because of that. It would be counter productive to sit Marshall in favor of Telfair.
He'll will need time to get accustomed to the speed and strength of the NBA game, but Marshall's passing skills are developed enough to give him eight to twelve minutes a game behind Goran Dragic.
The only way Marshall isn't the backup is if Telfair absolutely wows the coaching staff in training camp, and that doesn't seem very likely as of now.
Backup Shooting Guard: Wesley Johnson
Wesley Johnson went through a tough sophomore season in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves and was acquired by the Phoenix Suns this offseason. Johnson is a premier athlete, but has struggled to consistently hit his jumper. That is a problem in the Suns' system.
Johnson will have to put in work in that area, but he should fit into the fast-paced offense in the desert. His athleticism will be key on the fast break, as he can get out and finish above the rim in a hurry.
As for the starting shooting guard spot, Johnson is at a disadvantage. Shannon Brown has been in the system for a full season and seems to be the starter. That could change once Johnson gets acclimated to his new team.
Backup Small Forward: Jared Dudley
Jared Dudley isn't the most athletic or most talented guy on the Phoenix Suns, but he's probably the hardest worker. He brings an energy and hustle perfectly suited for a reserve role. He's simply a guy who helps wins tough games.
Playing behind Michael Beasley, Dudley will provide deadly shooting and someone who can defend with intensity. Look for Dudley to be the vocal leader of the Phoenix second unit and someone capable of scoring six to ten points on any given night.
Backup Power Forward: Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris was looking to be the starting power forward, but the acquisition of Luis Scola ensured Morris would continue to be the backup power forward. Although he might not be the starter, Morris will still get a ton of playing time and be a big-time factor every game.
Morris's toughness and shooting ability from deep are exactly what the team needs, and he should be the leading bench scorer for the Phoenix Suns. I expect Morris to turn heads during training camp and force the coaches to play him more this upcoming season.
With Scola getting older, Alvin Gentry might want to limit his time to around 30 minutes a game. Those extras minutes would go to Morris, and could lead to an uptick in his stats.
Backup Center: Channing Frye
Channing Frye had a decent season last season, but it was a step back from the two previous seasons. His shooting touch is key to the team's success, but his defense and rebounding were subpar.
Now, he finds himself forced out of the starting rotation with the acquisition of Luis Scola and even the backup power forward role with the emergence of Markieff Morris. Frye will have to play backup center for the Phoenix Suns.
Offensively, Frye will create matchup nightmares for opposing centers as he draws them out to the three-point line. Defensively, Frye needs to work on containing big guys and rebounding with consistency. The positives of playing Frye at backup center should outweigh the negatives, as he could be more effective in spurts rather than starting minutes.