The NBA season started yesterday, but the Phoenix Suns play tonight and that means it's bold predictions time! The Suns are a perfect team for bold predictions since the team is in such flux and could really go either up or down, which leaves the possibility of different outcomes. Read on for five bold predictions regarding players like Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Robin Lopez.
The 2009-10 season was a coming out party for Robin Lopez. He started to show he could be a reliable center for the Phoenix Suns and looked to build off his solid season, until injury struck early in the 2010-11 season.
Lopez was hit with a back injury that he never fully recovered from and lost his starting center spot to midseason acquisition Marcin Gortat. It was a forgone conclusion that Gortat would retain the starting spot, but camp has not gone Gortat's way and Lopez has been strong.
Lopez is finally healthy which, when coupled with Gortat's broken thumb, will lead to an increase in playing time and overall better play. I'm calling it right now, Robin Lopez will perform as he did in the 2009-10 season and challenge Gortat for the starting center job.
Jared Dudley had a very good 2010-11 season and is pegged to be the starting shooting guard for the Suns this season. Dudley started 15 games for the team last season and performed considerably better than former starter Vince Carter.
During his 15 starts, Dudley averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting 52 percent from the field and 76 percent from the free-throw line. These are pretty good numbers for a starting shooting guard.
Dudley is listed as the starter for today's season opener against the New Orleans Hornets, and I see no reason why he will not hold down the starting spot. He does multiple things well and could be counted on to score down the stretch and when Steve Nash is in trouble. I see Dudley averaging around 14-15 points a game and stabilizing the shooting guard position for the Suns.
Shannon Brown is widely known as a high-flyer and Phoenix fans remember him quite vividly since he played for the division rival Los Angeles Lakers. Brown has wowed fans with amazing dunks, and even some unbelievable missed dunks.
Brown has already participated in an NBA dunk contest but he looked timid and didn't perform well at all. Brown has grown up since the 2010 dunk contest and will look to perform less like this, and more like this.
I personally think Brown is a top five dunker and one of the best in game dunkers in the NBA. I would love to see him attempt a similar dunk to the missed dunk over Jason Richardson. Brown has all the ability to win the contest and with a creative dunk coach, will do so in the 2012 NBA dunk contest.
Steve Nash was robbed of an All-Star selection last season mainly from the star power of point guards in the Western conference, but that will change this year. Nash is the unquestioned leader of the Suns and should lead the team in both scoring and assists.
Nash has been a double-double machine his entire career but has been hurt by the depth of point guards in the West. Things got a little easier when Deron Williams was traded from the Utah Jazz to the New Jersey Nets and I see no reason why Nash's stats equal anything but an All-Star.
It's safe to assume Chris Paul will get the starting point guard nod, thus leaving Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors as the main competition for Nash. I think the West will bring three point guards to the All-Star game: Paul, Westbrook and Nash. That means Nash will beat out Steph Curry for the final spot.
Grant Hill was absolutely phenomenal on defense last season and was hands down the best defender on the Phoenix Suns. Hill guarded such a wide range of players and really improved the Suns defense by himself.
Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Rudy Gay, Monta Ellis and Tyreke Evans. What do all these guys have in common? They are all defensive assignments for Grant Hill.
Many look at Hill's age and think he is over the hill (no pun intended) and ready to retire. That is not the case at all. Hill has missed over four seasons worth of NBA games with troubling ankle injuries and thus has the wear and tear of someone four years younger.
In my opinion no one in the NBA is called upon to do more for his team defensively, and yes, that includes Dwight Howard. Coach Alvin Gentry seems to agree, and this video shows just how good Grant Hill is defensively.