Say what you want about Amare Stoudemire and his lack of rebounding. He averaged almost nine a game in his career in Phoenix.
Now he is gone and so are those rebounds. Who is taking his place? Hedo Turkoglu, who has averaged half the rebounds as Stoudemire in his career (4.3), and Hakim Warrick, who in his career has averaged the same amount.
Based on career statistics, the two best rebounders are Grant Hill (6.5 RPG) and Jason Richardson (5.3 RPG), but they play on the wings. This isn’t exactly where you want your best rebounding. Their starting center, Robin Lopez, averages 3.3 RPG in his career.
For a team like the Suns that thrives on running and scoring, its success requires rebounding from the center and power forward positions. This allows the wing players to release and run.
The Mike D’Antoni Suns struggled as a team with rebounding but had great offensive success because they got double digit rebounding from Shawn Marion and near double digit rebounding from Stoudemire.
Last season, the Suns offense was less about the fast break and more about open shots. As the team has gotten more athletic and versatile, it would appear that they are moving again towards the “Seven seconds or less” brand of basketball. To do that, there will have to be more rebounding from players that have not done it in their careers.
This is where Erick Dampier comes in. He was in Phoenix recently talking with the Suns and it is rumored that he is deciding between the Suns and the Bulls.
Dampier has averaged over seven boards a game for the past seven seasons, including a year in which he averaged almost 12 a game. He could provide that rebounding presence in the middle that the Suns are not quite sure they have. Robin Lopez could be that guy, but has only one full season of playing time, a healing back, and a penchant for getting in foul trouble, thus keeping him off the floor.
If Dampier signs with Phoenix, the question is how he would be used. Lopez is currently the starter and Channing Frye and his new $30 million contract is the big guy off the bench (but for scoring and shooting). Would Dampier push Frye to power forward, thus changing the bench rotation? Would he start in place of Lopez? Or would he be like Jarron Collins, playing only because of injury or foul trouble?
Another effect that Dampier would have on the roster would be to likely push out Dwayne Jones, a ferocious rebounder, but young and unproven in the NBA. While Dampier is a known commodity, he is more expensive and much older than Jones.
Many see Jones filling the role that Lou Amundson had last year, but doing so with more size, better rebounding and a little more skill around the basket.
The Phoenix Suns need more rebounding; there is no doubt about it. Where will it come from? Will it be from guys that have not typically done it? Will it be more from the wings? Will Dampier be the answer? Will it even matter?
These are questions that Suns fans everywhere are hoping to answer this season.