Quantity Over Quality: Roster Breakdown of New Phoenix Suns
The Suns, over the previous seasons, have grown tired and broken down when it came to playoff time.
This came down to a lack of trust in the players that were on the bench, and for good reason. They were either washed up or undrafted free agents all playing for minimum salaries.
Something happened when Alvin Gentry was left in charge though. He realized this problem and said we have nothing to lose by playing our guys.
He trusted them enough to say go out and play. The deep bench helped create the chemistry that led the Suns to Western Conference Finals this past season.
Now the Suns have a new look and are replacing a superstar with ego issues with parts they hope will make their engine run more smoothly.
Starters: Steve Nash
Steve Nash is the reason that the Suns have been as successful as they have been.
Without him they are screwed and with him they always have a chance to win.
Jason Richardson caused a lot of controversy when he first came to Phoenix, twice being cited for incidents involving cars but last season he fit in just fine.
He found his niche standing at the three point line draining threes and slashing to the hoop providing highlight reel dunks.
Richardson may try to put career numbers this year before becoming a free agent next offseason but the belief is he has bought into the team concept and Phoenix and is tired of losing.
Grant Hill loves Phoenix and vice versa.
He has been able to turn around a career that was filled with injury and disappointment and become a solid contributor and leader on the team.
The 38-year-old will likely play in the Valley of the Sun as long as body will let him. Thanks to an even deeper bench Hill’s minutes will likely decrease, leaving him fresher for the postseason.
Turkoglu is the wild card in the starting lineup.
If he likes his role and the place he is playing, he can be a great piece of the puzzle for the Suns.
He can handle the ball, drain the three and take the pressure off of Nash with his ability to hit the final shot (look it up on YouTube)
The downside is if he doesn’t like where he is playing, ex: last season in Toronto.
He showed up hungover to a game and didn’t play citing a stomach virus and was then seen partying later that night.
Hopefully the Suns will see the former rather than the latter.
Robin Lopez made the biggest jump of any player on the Suns roster last season.
He went from a guy who rarely played 10 minutes his rookie season to a guy who was starting and helped bring intensity to the Suns.
Lopez may be one of the most intense players in the league. He slammed a glass door at a summer practice last season and shattered it.
The Suns will be counting on his continued in improvement, especially in not getting into foul trouble, in order to becoming a better team.
He has the potential to become the best center in Suns history.
Bench: Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic was the most improved player on the Suns roster last season.
His jump from rookie to sophomore was one of the most important things for the Suns. Gentry trusting Dragic to play his game allowed him to get the confidence he needed. It was also a big reason for his 23 point outburst against the Spurs.
Dragic’s coming out party to the league came in the playoffs. How many players can say?
The Suns had enough confidence in him to trade Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa’s exit will leave more minutes for Dragic to play next season.
Josh Childress brings his afro to Phoenix after playing the past two seasons in Greece.
Childress did not put up super impressive numbers while in Greece but averaged double digits in points in his time in Atlanta.
He will also be able to bring a better defensive presence on the perimeter taking pressure off of Jared Dudley and Grant Hill as the only solid perimeter defenders on the team.
Did the Suns overpay? Probably but hopefully Childress will be able to take some minutes away from Hill to leave him fresher in the playoffs.
Jared Dudley was yet another vital part of the Suns last season.
The trust that Gentry put into him allowed Dudley to go out and play his game. Scrappy defense, shooting the three and being the heart and soul of the team.
Dudley was the guy who kept everyone loose and everything in perspective. His shooting and defense on Kobe were some of the reasons the Suns were able to make big comebacks in the fourth quarter against the Lakers.
Dudley said this on Twitter after Amare left. “Now all the current Sun players have to get a little better this summer.. Cuz no one person can replace Amare”
He realizes that he has to outwork everyone because he can’t beat them on athleticism or the things that superstar players have.
The Suns knee-jerk reaction to losing Amare was signing Hakim Warrick. While impressive at Syracuse he has yet to live up to expectations in the NBA.
Warrick will be counted on to the run the pick and roll for the Suns and provide interior defense.
The one downside for Warrick is that he will be compared to Amare by Suns fans and media and won’t be able to live up to the expectations. He is not a superstar player.
If he is able to come off the bench and contribute, that will be good enough for what the Suns signed him for.
Channing Frye was able to convert one good season into a $30 million contract.
He made the right decision to come back and play for the team that allowed him to become the one of the best shooting big men in the league.
The former Arizona Wildcat is the perfect for the Suns offense, he allows them spread the court as a long range threat and played great in the zone defense. (OK, maybe that’s not something to brag about)
Sure, he isn’t a rebounding threat but the Suns know that and are hopeful he makes the shot rather than having to go after the rebound.
Earl Clark could have proved that he deserved to be a contributor on this team by playing great in summer league this season but he didn’t.
He averaged 14.8 points and five rebounds a game but only shot 37% from the field.
Even worse, he didn’t attack the basket and settled for jumpshots way too often.
I expect that Clark will be spending a lot of time in the D-League this season.
Gani Lawal could end up being the surprise of the season for the Suns.
Lawal is an undersized power forward (6’8”) who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around in order to get the rebound.
The rookie led the Suns in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (7.4) in the summer league, showing that he deserves a spot on the team.
He might make a few trips down to the D-League in order to get some playing time during stretches of the season but expect him to slowly make an imprint on this team throughout the season.