Whither the Suns in the Western Conference

At the beginning of last season, this corner forecast the precipatous decline of ‘Seven Seconds or Less … and then went on to proclaim early-on that, after 3 years at-or-near the top of the Western Conference, knocking on the door of the NBA Finals, Phoenix WOULD NOT EVEN MAKE IT OUT OF THE 1st ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS LAST SEASON …

* NBA Playoffs Preview [2007-2008]
* Legitimate Contenders in the NBA: Part IV
* Eclipse of The Suns: An Update
* Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns
* Eclipse of the Suns

which is precisely what happened.

==========================

Looking back on 2007-2008 …

Q1. What exactly did the Suns accomplish, since the start of last season?
A1. By …

* Replacing Mike D’Antoni with Steve Kerr [former PG with the Bulls & Spurs]
* Adding Grant Hill [6-8, 225]
* Replacing Shawn Marion [6-7, 230] with Shaquille O’Neal [7-1, 325]
* Replacing Mike D’Antoni with Terry Porter [former PG with the Blazers]
* Retaining & then elevating Alando Tucker [6-6, 205]
* Adding Robin Lopez [7-0, 255], Matt Barnes [6-7, 226], Goran Dragic [6-4, 180], Sean Singletary [6-0, 185] and Louis Amundson [6-9, 225]

they’ve changed the entire culture of the organization … AND dramatically improved their chances of returning to the upper echelon of the Western Conference next season and beyond.

That’s what they’ve done in Phoenix over the last 12 months.

Whereas, last year at this time, the Suns were an ALL OFFENSE, NO DEFENSE & POOR REBOUNDING team, using a bandjo-tight 8-man rotation … with almost no legit chance to ever win four [4] consecutive series in the NBA playoffs [what it takes to claim the title!] … as they head to training camp this year … this is NO LONGER the eternal and/or external make-up of this team.

THIS TEAM, this season … with the line-up it can now put on the floor, night-in and night-out:

STARTERS
1 – Nash [6-3, 178]
2 – Bell [6-5, 215]
3 – Hill
4 – Stoudemire [6-10, 249] 
5 – Shaq
————-
KEY BENCH SUBS
1 – Singletary [or Dragic]
2/1 – Barbosa [6-3, 202]
3/2 – Tucker [or Barnes]
4/3 – Diaw [6-8, 235] [or Amundson]
5 – Lopez
————-
RESERVES
1 – Dragic [or Singletary]
3 – Barnes [or Tucker]
4 – Amundson
————-
HEALTHY SCRATCHES
3 – Piatkowski [?]
4/5 – Marks [?]

is as deep and athletically talented as any other outfit in the Western Conference,

this side of the LA Lakers, and

has a solid chance to return to the Western Conference Playoffs … WITH a legit opportunity to win a round or two and, possibly, advancing to the WC Finals, once again … as an upper echelon team, in the NBA.

By returning the focus in Phoenix to what makes for a championship calibre product, in this League … i.e. a commitment to REBOUNDING, Team Defense and a Balanced [higly structured] Team Offense … Steve Kerr may have accomplished in just one season at the helm something which Jerry Colangelo, Bryan Colangelo & Mike D’Antoni [before him] were NOT able to do over the course of their careers in the ‘Valley of the Sun’ … i.e. transform this team into a LEGITIMATE CONTENDER for an NBA championship … i.e. please see, What it takes to win the NBA Championship.

Which is not an easy feat … working for an owner with the reputation of one Robert Sarver.

Q2. Could it be … ‘The Rising of a New Sun[s] in Phoenix‘ this season? 
A2. Yes, Sir, indeed … it just might be that exact thing.

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32 Responses to “Whither the Suns in the Western Conference”

  1. thesandman1515 Says:

    Interesting post. Definitely contrary to most of the mainstream media, who predict a very low playoff seed for the Suns, if any. i’m extremely cautiously optimistic about the Suns chances next season. i just don’t know if the addition of Terry Porter transforms a mediocre defense into a top-10 one, especially without slipping from a top-5 offense.

  2. Differing Views on the Suns’ Outlook « Sayings of a Suns Sensei Says:

    [...] teams most likely to be in turmoil. Others take a slightly more optimistic view. Blogger khandor thinks that improved defense and rebounding make the Suns the legitimate contender they haven’t been [...]

  3. Travis Outlaw Says:

    What playoff spot do you think the Suns are going to get.

  4. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    That’s tough to say right now, as …

    * Andrew Bynum is coming back from a serious knee injury and a lengthy rehab.

    * Manu Ginobili is under-going ankle surgery.

    * New Orleans is adding James Posey and Devin Brown.

    * Houston is adding the human wrecking ball, Ron Artest.

    * Utah has simply been the most consistent team in the WC … for the last 20 YEARS.

    * Dallas is a year older … BUT has a new M.O., under Rick Carlisle, a very solid head coach.

    * Portland is chomping at the bit, introducing Greg [The Norse God] Oden, Rudy Fernandez & Jarryd Bayless.

    and Phoenix is adding Tucker, Barnes, Lopez, Dragic, Amundson, and Singletary.

    Better to wait until the time the bright lights come on for real.

  5. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Dallas has a better chance winning a championship than Phoenix does. Phoenix is slowly aging and coming apart. Shaq is old, inconsistent and keeps getting into foul trouble. Nash is getting old. Grant Hill is already old. While Dallas still has a championship looking team. And really just needs Jason Kidd to bring them together. I would put Phoenix out of the playoffs.

    1. Lakers
    2. Rockets
    3. Mavericks
    4. Jazz
    5. Spurs
    6. Hornets
    7. Blazers
    8. Clippers

  6. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    Given your list of teams ^^^ … How about we make a strictly ‘friendly’ wager?

    You say that the Clippers will finish the 2008-2009 regular season with a better W-L record than the Suns.

    I say that the Suns will finish the 2008-2009 regular season with a better W-L record than the Clippers.

    Deal or No Deal? :-)

  7. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Deal the Clippers look better than the Suns especially if Eric Gordon plays well.

  8. E money Says:

    Well I expect this years season to be another competitive year. The 1-8 spots will be close, but I definitly know the suns will make the playoffs. They have Stoudemire and Barbosa two very young talented ball players. Both can put up huge numbers anynight. Also what the suns are lacking is just another Small forward/Power Forward with almost the same talent as Shawn Marion. But they are definitly a playoff team, with an addition of a very good Small forward expect them to be championship material.
    just think of this line up:

    1.Steve Nash
    2.Raja Bell
    3.Shawn Marion
    4.Amare Stoudemire
    5.Shaq

    Dangerous line up

    Now if the suns can find another talent as good or almost even to shawn marion. they are Championship bound. If Matt barnes can feel that spot just as good then it’s a very dangerous team.

    1.Steve Nash
    2.Raja Bell
    3.????(Matt Barnes?)
    4.Amare Stoudemire
    5.Shaq

    off the bench:
    Barbosa, Tucker, Hill, Lopez, Dragic, Amundson, and Singletary.

    tell me how does that sound?

  9. E money Says:

    The clippers don’t have much talent. If the teams around the league all improve their “D” then expect another disappointing season for the clips.
    B davis can’t score all the points. The clips have energy players, none of their talents are scoring (Just B.Davis). Energy players get their points from mistakes or rebounds, that type of play won’t get you into the playoffs.

  10. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Now if the suns can find another talent as good or almost even to shawn marion. they are Championship bound. If Matt barnes can feel that spot just as good then it’s a very dangerous team.

    1.Steve Nash
    2.Raja Bell
    3.????(Matt Barnes?)
    4.Amare Stoudemire
    5.Shaq

    off the bench:
    Barbosa, Tucker, Hill, Lopez, Dragic, Amundson, and Singletary.

    tell me how does that sound?

    It sounds bad. Tucker, Lopez, Dragic, Amundson, and Singletary off the bench. These guys are scrubs.

  11. Travis Outlaw Says:

    The clips have energy players, none of their talents are scoring (Just B.Davis). Energy players get their points from mistakes or rebounds, that type of play won’t get you into the playoffs.

    Eric Gordon could be really good offensively. Chris Kaman is a underrated scorer too. With Marcus Camby they have defence. And their much younger than the Suns. But also have veteran experience off the bench Cuttino Mobley, Jason Williams.

    I mean every year at least one or two playoffs teams from the previous years don’t make the playoffs. And I don’t like the Suns chances.

  12. E money Says:

    1.Steve Nash
    2.Raja Bell
    3.(Matt Barnes?)
    4.Amare Stoudemire
    5.Shaq

    With this line up you have Barbosa off the bench as well as Grant hill,and Boris Diaw.
    I say Dragicis a very good player watch some high lights, he’ll suprise you. He should have been in the top 15 in the draft but teams didn’t want to chance it, because most of them needed players at the moment. The suns got a steal with him, he wasn’t expexted to play this year, but he was able to be bought out of his contract with his previous team. Tucker is a very good player, young and athletic. Lopez also can be a very good player with his size, as the season progresses look for him to get better.

    AS for the clips Kaman is not an underrated player and will never be an all star. He has peaked and does not have much to offer, no speed or talent just takes up space. The only players I like from clips are B. Davis and Al thorton. thats it

    In the west now your going to need atleast three allstars to make the play offs.

    Spurs:Parker,Duncan,Ginobli
    lakers:kobe, Pau, odom
    hornets:CP3, Chandler (allstar material this year), David West
    suns:Stat,Nash,Barbosa(his year)
    rockets:Yao,Mcgrady,Artest

    I mean the people I named can put up numbers and carry their team on any given night.

    The only player on the clips is Davis.

    oh yeah last years champs
    Paul Pierce, KG, Ray Allen

    big three will get you in to the playoffs.

  13. Travis Outlaw Says:

    I say Dragicis a very good player watch some high lights, he’ll suprise you. He should have been in the top 15 in the draft but teams didn’t want to chance it, because most of them needed players at the moment.
    -Dragic is still a virtually unknown player. And drafted #45 overall. How good could he be?

    Tucker is a very good player, young and athletic.
    Tucker barely played last year. You can’t except much from him.

    Lopez also can be a very good player with his size, as the season progresses look for him to get better. Lopez was drafted way too high and over guys like like Marreese Speights, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan who have chances to become stars.

    Sean Singletary is a second round draft pick. And nobody even wanted Amundson he’s a D-Leaguer that barely played last at all last year.

    Tucker, Lopez, Dragic, Amundson, and Singletary. Thats a weak bench.

    Matt Barnes is not that good. Matt Barnes played well in GS because they were running up and down aren’t the Suns stopping that kind of play?

    Barbosa and Diaw had a bad year last season. And I keep hearing trade rumors that they are going to be traded. In fact I believe TJ Ford almost got traded for the two of them.

  14. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Barbosa(his year) How he’s coming off the bench?

    By the way Shaq stinks now. And should come off the bench.

    The Clippers have a young, athletic, veteran, talented core. Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Al Thorton is their big three. And ERIC GORDON is going to dominate the nba soon enough.

  15. khandor Says:

    Tucker barely played last year … for Mike D’Antoni.

    Terry Porter is NOT Mike D’Antoni.

    The Suns needed more defense, rebounding and … most of all … ENERGY from their 2nd unit’s 1st Big.

    They got each of those things in Robin Lopez … who is by no means going to be a great player in the NBA … but, who is highly serviceable, as a mobile, crazy-intense Big off the bench.

    Matt Barnes is the type of under-the-radar signing that a solid NBA GM makes who knows exactly what he’s looking for in a complimentary player. At his size and with his length, Barnes is well-suited for the role of a defensive back-up on the wing who can take the ball to the rim in transition [in the mode of a poor man's Shawn Marion, at the end of deadly dimes from Nash] and stick the occasional 3ball, as a solid support player to Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw and Alando Tucker.

    Sean Singletary is a no-flash, serviceable PG … who would have had no hope of ever replicating Captain Planet’s individual game, as his back-up under a coach like Mike D’Antoni but … who is going to be a capable facilitator of the ball, given the skill level of the other players on the Suns’ roster AND the CONVENTIONAL style of play which is going to be the M.O. of Coach Porter.

    Terry Porter was the starting PG for the outstanding Portland teams of the early 1990′s and it would not surprise in the least to see this year’s version of the Suns attempt to replicate a modified version of those very same [and highly successful] teams that played out of the Rose Garden, and were built on solid athletic depth at each and every position.

    [e.g. When you look at Louis Amundson, 6-9/225, see if you can't see the under-pinings of a young Buck Williams, 6-8/215; or, in Goran Dragic, 6-4/180, the early markings of a youngish Terry Porter, 6-3/195, Danny Ainge, 6-4/175, or perhaps Rod Strickland, 6-3/175.]

    Re-tooled in the image of those Trailbalzers … Do you see a comparison to Shaq and the late Kevin Duckworth? … Grant Hill and Clyde ‘The Glide’, etc. … do not be surprised at all if the Suns are once again an upper echelon team in the WC this season.

    Steve Kerr is a winner … and knows how to build a legit contender, in the NBA.

  16. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Steve Kerr is a winner as a player but as a NBA general manager that remains to be seen.

    1. Lakers
    2. Rockets
    3. Mavericks
    4. Jazz
    5. Spurs
    6. Hornets
    7. Blazers
    8. Clippers
    Khandor I would like to see your playoff predictions.

  17. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    Have a look around my blog … and you can find my predictions for the 2007-2008 NBA Playoffs, which were published just before the post-season began.

    At this point, however … it is much too early for me to be making ‘Championship’ forecasts for the up-coming season. :-)

    Which one or two isolated teams might qualify for the playoffs, or not … is a different ball-game altogether.

  18. Filling in the gaps for the Suns « Khandor’s Sports Blog Says:

    [...] for the Suns Further to the perspective shared with others in this space earlier this week, Whither the Suns in the Western Conference [...]

  19. GWC Says:

    I like the Suns chances for making the play-offs and surprising some people… Travis – To say that a “guy was drafted 45th, so how good can he be” is pretty ridiculous when you consider how many good players in the league were either drafted late in the first round or in the second. We don’t know how good he’s going to be. Suns management might have an idea ( or hope), and the spurs may as well since they originally drafted him, but nobody knows. You can’t write him off yet buddy. You kinda sound like you know what you are talking about but…. try to be a little more subjective. You pick the mavericks to get the 3rd seed? You really think they are going to compile a better record than the Hornets? I mean, we all want to be positive about our team’s chances ( we can’t all be Lakers fans, oh wait… practically everyone is) but try to be a little more realistic. If this is some bold prediction for the mavs, then lets hear it. That team is running out of gas, they’ll make the play-offs, barely, lose in the first round ( kinda like what I’m afraid is going to happen to the Suns) and then blow the team up. I can’t wait to see Carlisle and Cuban go at it =)

  20. GWC Says:

    Oh yeah, Clips won’t make the playoffs… Baron + Dunleavy = unhappy marriage… imminent “injury” so he sits 15-25 games, too many for them to even have a chance.

  21. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Travis – To say that a “guy was drafted 45th, so how good can he be” is pretty ridiculous when you consider how many good players in the league were either drafted late in the first round or in the second.

    -Most second round draft picks suck in the NBA. And at best their average bench players. So I wouldn’t except much out of Dragic. But I would be wrong of course.

    You pick the mavericks to get the 3rd seed? You really think they are going to compile a better record than the Hornets?
    - Thats just my prediction. Anything can happen. The Dallas Mavericks are not my favorite team. I think the Hornets are overrated. Nobody put the Hornets #2 last year but they suprised everyone. Nobody put the Lakers #1 last year. And nobody put the Suns and Mavericks #6 and #7 last year when the season began. The Dallas Mavericks are falling apart but I really like their nucleus. They still look like a championship team unlike the Suns. Rick Carlisle is a elite coach. And if Dirk, Kidd, Josh play better this can be a dangerous team.

  22. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Oh yeah, Clips won’t make the playoffs… Baron + Dunleavy = unhappy marriage… imminent “injury” so he sits 15-25 games, too many for them to even have a chance.

    Dunleavy is strict and a great coach. I see Dunleavy making Baron Davis pass the ball more instead of being such a ball hog. I see the Clips as a team thats not going to run. The Clips had a great offseason much better than the Suns. Getting Marcus Camby. Drafting Eric Gordon. They still have Al Thorton and Chris Kaman. And they have veterans like Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas, Jason Williams, Ricky Davis, Brian Skinner. They are very young, atlethic, and have a great veteran bench. What did the Suns do exactly this offseason? Every year teams that made the playoffs 1 or 2 teams of those teams miss the playoffs the next year.

  23. khandor Says:

    GWC,

    Thanks for your comments and welcome aboard!

  24. GWC Says:

    He outlined everything the Suns did this offseason, in this exact post. Scroll up if you want to see man. Lopez, Dragic… Singletary for strawberry. Matt Barnes at the veteran minimum is probably the best move. You list all these players the clips got… Ricky Davis is cancer & you don’t bother listing the biggest event for the Clips this summer… ELTON LEFT. No low post offense. However, I have seen a lot of Clippers games and I do agree with you in regards to Al Thornton, he is a beast and will do a lot of good things now that Maggette is gone and he’ll have more freedom. I also like Eric Gordon, good pick 4 u guys and he can learn from Mobley which seems like a perfect pairing. Jason Williams has hardly anything in the tank, that would’ve been comparable to the Suns signing Tyronne Lue so nothing to get too worked up about there. Cuttino Mobley is a solid player, but slowing down and we’ll see how he gels with BD. Tim Thomas is cancer (c’mon man, you watch the games you know its true) he is basically an older inferior version of Thornton. Like all suns fans, I know he can play well when he wants to… but how often is that? Oh, and Brian Skinner… really I do like what he brings to a team, but he’s more of the same when he backs up Kaman and Camby; seems more likely Thornton will get sometime at the four with the second unit and Skinner won’t play much. Just because a team made a lot of moves, doesn’t mean they were great; in fact in this case the team was in flux and had to do something. I think the Clips will improve, but I HIGHLY doubt they will make the playoffs. I never claimed the Suns looked like a championship team, in fact I’m predicting a first round defeat, so I’m not sure why you are harping on it… oh, and Dallas still looks like a championship team? They have no heart and haven’t since Miami and Goldenstate slapped them silly. I wonder if the Kidd trade wasn’t made partly to shake up a bad locker room situation, like the Marion swap. I do believe Dallas will make the playoffs, but I’d be very surprised if they get a top four seed & did anything other than lose in the first round.

  25. Travis Outlaw Says:

    He outlined everything the Suns did this offseason, in this exact post. Scroll up if you want to see man. Lopez, Dragic… Singletary for strawberry. Matt Barnes at the veteran minimum is probably the best move.

    -I know that already. Adding Lopez, Dragic, Singletary, Amundson and Marnes is what I call a crappy offseason. The Clippers did a lot more.

    ELTON LEFT. No low post offense.
    -Chris Kaman is pretty good.

    Just because a team made a lot of moves, doesn’t mean they were great; in fact in this case the team was in flux and had to do something. I think the Clips will improve, but I HIGHLY doubt they will make the playoffs.

    -My prediction is the Clips make the playoffs as an 8th seed. That’s not anything special. With the roster that the Clips have they should be able to take the 8th seed in the West.

    I never claimed the Suns looked like a championship team, in fact I’m predicting a first round defeat, so I’m not sure why you are harping on it… oh, and Dallas still looks like a championship team? They have no heart and haven’t since Miami and Goldenstate slapped them silly. I wonder if the Kidd trade wasn’t made partly to shake up a bad locker room situation, like the Marion swap. I do believe Dallas will make the playoffs, but I’d be very surprised if they get a top four seed & did anything other than lose in the first round.

    -I’m saying the Mavericks roster on paper looks a whole lot better than the Suns.

  26. gwc Says:

    I know you think that, and I respectfully disagree. Kaman is pretty good, but his one-on-one moves…. nevermind, he has none. I live in Socal and watch a ton of Clipper games, and he does a lot of good things; just not on his own. Finally, which is what I was saying in the whole ” in flux” thing… the Clippers HAD to do a lot because EB left; if he stayed Camby would have never happened. The Suns either had to tear the whole thing down or tinker with the roster, they chose to tinker. The defining move of the off season for the clips was that EB left, plain & simple it over shadows everything else. Who is on the Mavs that makes them better than phoenix? I see two teams trying to transition with the same nucleus that ( both) have had for years; both teams were really good, but not good enough. Devin Harris for J Kidd made them worse, although not as much as I thought since they got Diop back, but they are going to face all the same problems with roster that is another year older ( just like the suns) while trying to compete with younger more talented teams ( Hornets, Lakers, Jazz). Stackhouse’s best years are WAY behind him, same goes for Kidd (though I’m sure he will look better with a full offseason to adjust to the new system). Dirk is incredibly talented but is a choke artist & always has to deal with his coach trying to get him to play away from his strengths ( I predict more of this with Carlisle). Terry is fantastic, a great shooter, decent defender and the most clutch guy on the squad… but he ain’t a pg, meaning he may stat next to Kidd & generate a mismatch every night ( every SG in the league is gonna man handle Terry, and they have for the past two seasons, he regularly can’t guard his man) so that leads to him being the sixth man. Diop has great hustle and rebounding instincts, and bricks for hands. Brandon Bass is developing nicely for them though. I don’t see this squad competing for a championship or making it out of the first round, but I guess we’ll wait and see.

  27. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Most people have this ranking
    1. Lakers
    2. Hornets
    3. Rockets
    4. Jazz
    5. Spurs
    6. Suns
    7. Mavericks
    8. Blazers
    And I just don’t think that its going to end up like that. I wouldn’t be suprised if both the Suns and the Mavericks miss the playoffs. And younger more talented teams like the Blazers, Clippers take their spots. But this is just a guess of course.

  28. GWC Says:

    I agree with you there, I expect the Blazers to finish better than 8th and that seems to be where a lot of people are putting them. I’d be deceiving myself if I said there wasn’t a reasonable chance the Suns & the Mavs both missed it… but I would be kinda surprised if they BOTH missed it… I would think one of them would, even if the Clips do make it, who else is going to take one of those spots? Golden State has all kinds of trouble with the whole Monta injury thing; and as you well know Denver gave up its only guy who plays any D ( Iverson gets steals but is not a good defender because he constantly gambles… if he wanted to play solid man to man I’m sure he could, he just doesn’t like to)… Oklahoma, Minnesota & Memphis aren’t doing anything playoffs wise so… The warriors would have to make a real strong push in the second half of the season I’d think… again, only guessing.

  29. GWC Says:

    oh yeah, lol…. nice post Khandor.

  30. khandor Says:

    gwc,

    Thanks.

    Being in SoCal, do you get to see the Kings play on a regular basis?

    If so … do see their team improving this season … without Ron Artest?

    (e.g. not necessarily in their W-L rec’d but the overall quality of their play)

  31. GWC Says:

    I don;t get to see the Kings play to often as I am smack dab in the middle of Laker land & believe it or not most of them still hate the Kings more than the Suns so…. I do think the Kings will be an improved team, they have alot of young players who are developing nicely and will see a lot of burn this year. Of course, they are in the west so their record might not reflect this & it remains to be seen if Kevin Martin is one of those guys who just can’t stay healthy… The Maloofs want to put a good team on the floor and have the money to do it, it’s just going to take a few years but the building block are in place ( Udrih is a nice player although he isn’t going to sneak up on anybody this year like he did before, Martin is a pure scorer and could be a slightly more explosive version of Rip Hamilton in the right system; finally I like Francisco Garcia he is an energy guy who can hit the three, play solid D, start or come of the bench and from what I read is also a good locker room presence. Wow, I babble. Yes, I see them improving, but maybe not in the overall record area.

  32. khandor Says:

    GWC,

    Thanks for your insight, nonetheless.

    Every little bit helps to form a more complete understanding about a specific situation. :-)

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