The Phoenix Suns have, so far, had a lackluster first half and will no doubt be looking to make a run after the All-Star Break. Whether it is a drastic or minimal improvement, the team will be moving up.
The team currently uses anywhere from 8-10 players a night. In my opinion, that isn't enough bodies in an up-tempo system like the Sun's.
With the team's recent success and the emergence of Zabian Dowdell, the Sun are going to be forced to use more players. Specifically, Dowdell creates an issue since he has filled in for the injured Goran Dragic. Dowdell has played very well and should demand more time.
The main reason Gentry will use more players is because last year he had great success playing anywhere from 10-12 players a game.
Marcin Gortat has really come into his own since being traded to the Phoenix Suns in the mega-trade with the Orlando Magic. He has shown he can be an important factor, both offensively and defensively, down low.
He has been playing dominant basketball lately and easily is the Suns best post player. Even though he comes off the bench, he still plays the majority of the minutes at the center position.
He has started to get double-doubles on a regular basis and should continue to do so for the rest of the season.
When Goran Dragic need stitches after stepping on glass, the Suns suddenly had a hole at backup point guard. In no time, management made a call to training camp cut Zabian Dowdell. And the rest is history.
The 6'3" point guard has played extremely well; averaging four points, 2.6 assists, 1.2 rebounds, and .9 steals per game. Those are pretty solid stats for a rookie, backup point guard.
Dowdell even wowed the team enough to be signed for the rest of the season. He has played well enough to at least deserve a couple of minutes a game when Dragic comes back. The bad part for Dragic is, if he does not play well, then he has Dowdell breathing down his neck waiting to get in.
Here are the Suns point given up per game in the last eight games (from earliest to most recent): 71, 102, 77, 111, 92, 88, 83, and 113. That is amazing for the famously defensive lacking Suns. That's a per game average of a little over 92 points allowed.
The team has shown a renewed commitment to defense and should do so for the remainder of the season.
The sharp-shooting big man Channing Frye, has so far shot a lot lower percentage from deep this season than the previous season. His percentage is down to 38 percent from 44 percent last season.
That's a pretty noticeable difference and has no doubt affected his play. He seems to rush his shots this year, when last season he took his time and made a remarkable number of shots from deep.
Frye is too good of a shooter to hover below 40 percent and I expect most likely anywhere from 41-44 percent for the rest of the season.
I have long thought Jason Thompson would be a great fit in the Suns system and that the Suns should try to trade for him.
With the trade deadline looming near, management has to at least think about acquiring Thompson. Thompson is a young, athletic power forward who loves to run the floor and has a decent shot. In other words, a very solid fit for the Suns.
The team needs to offer Hakim Warrick or Josh Childress, a second-rounder and cash for Thompson. That should be enough and would help both teams.
Everyone has already written off the Suns, and teams will be in for a rude awakening after the All-Star break, more specifically the Los Angeles Lakers will be paying close attention.
Now before people start freaking out, let me clarify that in no way am I saying the Suns will catch the Lakers for the division lead. Merely the 10 game lead the Lakers have now will decrease.
I believe the Suns will have the lead to five games during the rest of the season. It isn't enough to pass the Lakers, but it's enough for the Lakers to look at the standings and box scores on a daily basis.
This team has significant talent, there is no denying it. Maybe they have a couple older players, but they can still ball with the best of them. The team has greatly underachieved and will no doubt play better after the All-Star break.
With players like Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Grant Hill, there is no way the team continues to be a .500 team. It just isn't practical.
They will continue to play like they have been playing recently and should rise in the West.
This is just like the last slide, the team has too much talent to not make it into the playoffs at least and they really should be able to move into the seventh seed.
Ahead of the Suns are the injured Portland Trailblazers, the unfocused Memphis Grizzlies, the Melodramatic Denver Nuggets and the Jerry Sloan less Utah Jazz. The Suns have one thing all these teams do not have: stability. Each team has its own problems and the Suns are playing the best out of all.
I expect the playoffs, at least, but if they can get to the eighth seed, then what's stopping them from reaching the seventh seed?
Steve Nash does not want to leave Phoenix and the Suns should not move him out to get "younger". He is the heart and soul of the team and would leave a massive hole if he was traded. He means way too much to the team to be traded.
I realize people will say how they want Nash to win a title and that he won't win in Phoenix and that he deserves to be traded. Well, when Nash comes out and says he wants to win a title in Phoenix and is willing to stick it out here, then those people need to realize how rare that is and appreciate it.
He gives the Suns the best chance to win, hands down. I have long been against trading Nash and I pray management shares my views. I think Nash will stay with the team for the rest of this season and I'm willing to go as far to say Nash will retire as a Phoenix Sun.