The NBA championship window has closed for the Phoenix Suns

By: 10.27.10  •  17 Comments
Grant Hill (photo. Keith Allison)

Grant Hill (photo. Keith Allison)

As the NBA regular season tips off, we preview the upcoming eight-month stretch with our “Highs and Lows” system — predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team.

Added: Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress, Gani Lawal

Lost: Amar’e Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson, Jarron Collins

Ceiling: 5th-6th seed, Western Conference
They’re not done. Although the Suns lost more talent than they acquired over the summer, they still have Steve Nash (16.5 ppg, 11.0 apg), still have some explosive guards in Jason Richardson and reserve Goran Dragic, still have three-point shooters in Channing Frye and Jared Dudley, and still have a versatile ball-handling defensive wing in Grant Hill. The Suns also brought in two athletic big men who fit the system in Hakim Warrick and rookie Gani Lawal … For years the Suns failed to get Nash a decent backup, but now they almost have two: Dragic is coming off his playoff breakout, and offseason pickup Hedo Turkoglu can run the point and take some ball-handling responsibility away from Nash when they’re both on the floor. Using Dragic and Hedo effectively to keep Nash fresher for a playoff run makes the Suns better … Robin Lopez was limited to just 51 games last season due to a back injury. If he stays healthy this year, he gives the Suns some size and muscle in the paint to better adjust when games slow down.

Basement: Entertaining Lottery team
It’s over. At least for now. Soon after they gave the L.A. Lakers a spirited battle in the Western Conference Finals, the Suns saw their slim championship window slam shut when Amar’e signed with the Knicks. Hakim Warrick is an occasional highlight-maker replacement, but he’s not a star. Nash is credited with making others around him look good, but he’d have to be Jesus to make Warrick look like Amar’e … You could chalk up Turkoglu’s down year in Toronto (11.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.1 apg) to a multitude of off-court factors, or you can admit that he’s an old 31 and got exposed playing outside of Orlando’s system that was made for him … Speaking of old, Nash is 36, and Grant Hill is 38 … At one point during Phoenix’s opening night loss to Portland, this was the lineup they had on the floor: Dragic, Childress, Dudley, Warrick and Frye. That’s not good. This team is going to be overly reliant on Nash — as evidenced by him scoring 26 points (with 9 turnovers) and Phoenix still losing. The Suns were 7-4 in the 11 games where Nash scored 25-plus points last year (including playoffs), but now he is the team’s only arguably elite scorer.

*** *** ***

10/26 — Boston Celtics
10/26 — Miami Heat
10/25 — Los Angeles Lakers
10/24 — New Orleans Hornets
10/23 — Cleveland Cavaliers
10/22 — Dallas Mavericks
10/21 — Philadelphia 76ers
10/20 — Minnesota Timberwolves
10/20 — Orlando Magic
10/19 — Oklahoma City Thunder
10/19 — Detroit Pistons
10/15 — Golden State Warriors
10/12 — Chicago Bulls
10/12 — San Antonio Spurs
10/5 — Toronto Raptors
10/1 — Sacramento Kings
9/28 — Atlanta Hawks
9/27 — Portland Trail Blazers

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