Phoenix Suns ’09-10 NBA season preview

By: 10.22.09  •  13 Comments

Grant Hill, Steve Nash

Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — previewing the NBA season by predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team. Same theme, different season…

Added: Earl Clark, Channing Frye, Taylor Griffin

Lost: Shaquille O’Neal, Matt Barnes, Stromile Swift

Ceiling: Conference semifinals
Two things we do know: Phoenix will have one of the two or three highest-scoring offenses in the League, and they will have one of the three or four worst defenses. Last season — playing just about half the schedule in their preferred give-plenty/get-plenty system — the Suns were 1st in scoring and 27th in getting scored on … Steve Nash is running the show, and while it says here he’s 35 and still doesn’t have a decent backup, last season he put up numbers (15.7 ppg, 9.7 apg) not far from those of his MVP years. While the gap between Nash and his previously-held “Best Point Guard in the World” title widens, he’s still one of the top clutch players on the planet and arguably its best shooter … Assuming his eye won’t be a problem, Amar’e Stoudemire will finish what Nash starts and is a lock for 20-plus points and 8-9 rebound a night … Leandro Barbosa should bounce back from a tough year personally and professionally; he reported to this summer’s FIBA Americas tourney in great shape and led Brazil to a gold medal. Barbosa as a sixth man will bolster the backcourt behind Nash and Jason Richardson, who’s also poised to have a big year. For his first full season in Phoenix, J-Rich should thrive in the up-tempo offense, where he can launch threes until his arm falls off and have countless chances to make “Top Plays” with his finishes at the rim … Channing Frye was looking like a bust in Portland, but handed a starting spot with the Suns, he’s turned himself into a three-point threat (at least in the preseason) and could put up some numbers … But getting numbers has never been the problem. If the Suns translate those buckets into enough wins to get into the postseason, they have enough veterans, enough firepower, and enough pride on the line to out-gun somebody into the second round.

Basement: The purgatory that is not-quite rebuilding and not-quite contending
It was Draft Night ’09 when GM Steve Kerr said in a national TV interview that the Suns were “in transition” and admitted they were no longer a legit championship threat. And while the Shaq trade and taking a raw talent like Earl Clark in the Lottery were the right moves for a transitional/rebuilding franchise, turning around and giving Nash a multi-year extension and re-signing 37-year-old Grant Hill are the moves of a team that’s trying to win now. So which is it? … Further adding to Phoenix’s uncertainty is Stoudemire’s situation. Trade rumors have surrounded Amar’e since February, and because he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent in 2010, more trade talk should surface this season. Are the Suns committed to Amar’e as the future of the franchise like they once were? Is he committed to being the future if they want him? At best it will be a mild distraction; at worst it will be a chemistry-killer … The same old depth issues at point guard still exist, and now the frontcourt is weaker than Little Caesar’s pizza; after Amar’e, none of the Suns’ big men would start for any other team in the League … Like I said already, the Suns have always had a bad defense and a great offense. But with older legs and such a thin frontcourt, this could be the year where the defensive holes outweigh the offensive potency.

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10/21 — Charlotte Bobcats
10/21 — San Antonio Spurs
10/21 — Miami Heat
10/19 — Oklahoma City Thunder
10/19 — Milwaukee Bucks
10/15 — Portland Trail Blazers
10/14 — Chicago Bulls
10/13 — Golden State Warriors
10/12 — Toronto Raptors
10/9 — Houston Rockets
10/8 — Detroit Pistons
10/7 — Memphis Grizzlies
10/6 — New York Knicks
10/5 — New Orleans Hornets
10/2 — Atlanta Hawks
9/30 — Sacramento Kings
9/29 — New Jersey Nets
9/28 — Denver Nuggets

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