Steve Nash is no longer a member of the Phoenix Suns, and yet, inexplicably, the Suns have decided to continue fielding a team.
Actually, we all knew it would come to this someday. We knew the Suns existed before Nash. We kind of figured they might after Nash, too.
That time has arrived. And hey, it could be considerably more grim. In fact, some people might tell you the fact Nash left for the Lakers (well, was traded to the Lakers) wont mess with any reasons for hope at all.
Yeah, sounds weird. But it has some merit.
Fact: Nash and Grant Hill are gone. Theory: In their place are younger guys who possess enough talent to keep the Suns afloat while they keep an eye on the future.
On that list are newcomers such as Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic and Wes Johnson, as well as veteran Luis Scola. Not bad, huh? The Suns sure seem to like it OK.
After all, as valuable as Nash had been, not many NBA franchises get real far when their face is a 38-year old point guard. So the Suns are starting fresh, attempting to remain competitive and looking to find a new fan-favorite.
Already, it appears somewhat easier than a lot of folks predicted.
Last season: 33-33, did not make playoffs.
Coach: Alvin Gentry (12th year, 322-342).
Top returnees: C Marcin Gortat, SFSG Jared Dudley, PF Markieff Morris.
Key additions: PF Luis Scola, SF Michael Beasley, PG Goran Dragic, PG Kendall Marshall-r.
X-Factor: Beasley. Labeled a reason for distress for most of the early part of his career, Beasley stayed out of trouble last season with the Timberwolves. Now, hes expected to become a key player -- if not the brightest ray of hope. He has the talent. Hell get the ball. How he responds will likely help the Suns surge forward, or if things go badly, set them back.
Strengths: Scola is a rare combination of a hustle player with real-life offensive skills. In other words, he not only can get on your nerves, he can bury you. Like Scola, Dragic arrived from Houston with a reputation as an underrated pain in opponents sides. Dragic also proved that hes ready to run his own team, and these days, may actually be close to the same level as Nash. As for defense, this band of Suns may actually have at least a passing interest, and has the ability to actually pull it off.
Weaknesses: As is the case whenever the roster receives an extreme makeover, the Suns will likely suffer through a getting-acquainted period. On paper, theyre on the rise. On the floor, there are still a lot of question marks: Can Beasley stay focused? Will Gortat be as valuable without Nash? Are kids such Morris and Marshall already ready to be stead? We may not be able to respond for certain until February, maybe later.
Outlook: Remember the days of Nash, Mike DAntoni and Amare Stoudemire, Western Conference finals, and all those intense playoff matchups with the Spurs? They sure were fun, werent they? But everybody gets old, man. To the Suns credit, they stuck with it as long as they could, riding Nash until the very end. Suns fans can be thankful for the years he provided. They should be equally thankful for how the front office has attempted to rebuild the team. Because by the looks of things, the Suns should barely skip a dribble, rebound or jump shot.
2012-13 schedule: Link
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