Remember Us? Five Reasons Why the Phoenix Suns Will Contend For a Title in 2011

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2010

Remember Us?: Five Reasons Why The Phoenix Suns Will Contend For a Title in 2011

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    Phoenix looks to recapture the magic they used to challenge the Lakers for the Western Conference crown a season ago.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Sure, until the NBA season tips off later next month, its all speculation. However, throughout this long off season many have begun to doubt the Phoenix Suns and their postseason accomplishments from a year ago.

    No, Amar'e Stoudemire isn't walking through that door, but versatile playmaker Hedo Turkoglu is, and one of the league's best benches improves with the acquisition of swingman Josh Childress and rebounding and defensive specialist Hakim Warrick.

    Still though, the season is long and the Suns will need to be special to play for the Larry O'Brien trophy next Spring.

    Here are five reasons why the Suns will be in the hunt next April.

The Bench

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    Dragic, Dudley, and Frye anchor one of the league's most productive benches.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    One of last season's best reserve squads enters the new season with even more firepower.

    Though speedster Leandro Barbosa has been shipped to Toronto and big man Lou Amundson has fled to greener pastures, financially at least, signing with Golden State, the Suns bench looks stronger than ever.

    Josh Childress returns to the NBA after a brief stint in Europe and free agent floor-runner Hakim Warrick joins in. The result, an athletic, proven, and deadly-accurate group of players that will make sure the Suns don't miss a beat when Nash and Hill are resting.

     

Chemistry

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    The Suns are a tight-knit group that has even more fun off the court.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    So it doesn't guarantee a title, but still every championship team has it, and the Suns definately have it.

    Chemistry, not the science class you flunked in high school, but the interaction of multiple personalities.

    Last season Steve Nash's YouTube channel let NBA fans in on what allowed the Suns to overcome their lack of superior talent and make the Western Conference Finals.

    Suns fans night in and night out watch a team that truely enjoys playing together, on and off the court. Whether they are poking fun at Avatar, singing "All Night Long" on the team bus, or playing for an NBA championship, the Suns remain fun through and through.

The Rest of The West

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    Carlos Boozer has joined forces with Derrick Rose in Chicago, rumors are that Anthony might follow suitAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Though they were heavily overlooked coming into last season, the Suns finished with the third seed out west in one of the most hotly-contested playoff races in recent memory.

    Why does that matter this season? Because the balance of power has shifted slightly, as Carlos Boozer heads to Chicago, and the possibility of Carmelo Anthony taking his talents to the Eastern Conference as well.

    The Lakers are the clear cut favorite to capture the west's number one seed again next season, but after that, spots 2-8 are a mess.

    Dallas faded quickly last postseason, San Antonio looked old in a second round bow-out to the Suns, and Denver fell apart against the undermanned Utah Jazz.

    Houston and New Orleans should be much improved next season and will likely contend for the playoffs, but other than the young and exciting Oklahoma City Thunder, no one out west looks like more of a challenge to the Lakers than the Suns.

Identity

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    The Suns are 72-41 since Gentry took over in 2009, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals a season ago.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Suns are often criticized for their lack of defense, but under head coach Alvin Gentry the Suns have been able to mask many of their defensive deficiencies and stay true to their offensive roots.

    Ever since Nash signed with Phoenix back in 2004 the Suns have been a offensive team focused on outscoring their opponent rather than beating them in the half court or on the boards.

    The Shaquille O'Neal experiment failed and the Suns have since returned to their offensive mindset, but this time there is much more focus on defense.

    Teams will always score points against the Suns because of the amount of possessions they create over a period of 48 minutes, but defensive rotations and shifting to a 2-3 zone every now and then can make it tough for an opponent to match the sharp-shooting Phoenix offense.

    They have an identity, and they know how to win.

Steve Nash

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    The two-time league MVP defied age and experts on his way to one of the most productive seasons of his career.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    If the first four reasons were not enough, I have two words for you, Steve Nash.

    The 36 year-old point guard averaged 16.5 ppg last season and lead the league with 11 dimes per contest. Not to mention he shot a career best 94% at the free throw line.

    If those numbers don't mean anything to you, how's this?

    No other player in NBA history has averaged over 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc, and 90% from the foul line for a season as many times as Nash. He has done just that the past five seasons and shows no signs of slowing down.