Much of what is occurring within the Phoenix Suns organization, and, most importantly, in the mind of Robert Sarver, is not necessarily clear. Yet one thing is certain at this point: we all have an opinion on the recent draft and transactions that have left the squad with Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye (re-signed), and Gani Lawal.
The Suns have signed free agents to reasonable deals, accepted reasonable contracts, and gained reasonable talent. Not huge talent, not huge, ugly, potentially organizationally crippling contracts. Regardless of whether we like these deals or not, we must admit that the Suns have increased their depth at nearly every position. And depth is a good thing. Depth gives a team options. Depth keeps a team afloat when the injury bug bites. Depth allows for adjustment and change. Depth allows for opportunity. Depth allows for competitive advantages, like further transactions that can improve the team.
Many of the Planet Orange brethren were expecting Amare to stay. Many of us were hoping for a big signing to replace Amare Stoudemire. Well, people, I seriously doubt it's going to happen right now. So, with the exception of the additions of one or two guys, or if something comes from way out of left field, what you see is most likely what you're going to get come late October.
No doubt we feel a bit uncomfortable with a roster of guys who do some things really well but other things not so well. It would certainly make us all feel at ease to have an All-Star beast in the lineup. We are all secure with that feeling and all that comes with it: sexy posterizations, a crunch time performer, a man to say all the right things when the team struggles, the pillar of leadership and talent the rest of the squad can lean on when need be. And the only thing better than one big name to relieve our feelings are two or three other big names in the lineup, like the
Yep, plenty of talent in
Miami, but with great talent comes great expectations, huge, potentially franchise crippling contracts, and a big target sign on your back. If you're an NBA team with any competitive fire, you want a piece of the Heat. You want to take them out, and then you want to thump your chest on ESPN in front of millions and say you were the one who broke their hearts.
Sorry, things got a little away from me there. I digress...
The Suns depth going into the 2010-11 season thus far is excellent. But is it enough to make up for the lack of bona fide stars? There really is no big two or three for the Suns, but there is a nice, flexible mix of both veteran and young talent who know how to play the game.
The Suns depth allows them (and will require them) to mix and match. Hedo Turkoglu, while not the best choice as a complete PF, offers options at multiple positions. He's probably best used as a point SF. Turkoglu can slide to the 3 while Grant Hill rests and Channing Frye and Robin Lopez can be paired next to him for some excellent front court length. Add in slashers like J-Rich, Goran Dragic, and or newly acquired Josh Childress, and the Suns could put some very potent lineup combinations together. Alternately, Josh Childress provides another back-up to Hill should he find himself hurting or in need of a breather. J-Chill also adds more dimensions at the backup two than Leandro Barbosa. The goal here is to go 10 deep, and the Suns can certainly do that.
The addition of Childress to the bench rotation adds another potent perimeter defender and athletic slasher to an already quality second unit that includes Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, and Channing Frye. Hakim Warrick is slated as the backup 4, but is not known for his ability to defend or pick up many boards. Still, he is a quick and athletic finisher who just may find his niche in the Suns system. If he is the Amundson replacement, picking up Lou's 4 and 4 a game shouldn't be difficult. But doing the intangibles and all the things Lou did that didn't show up in the boxscore remains to be seen.
If Earl Clark can find it, the Suns will have yet another option at the 3 or 4 with athleticism and length to help defend the bigs of the league.The two second rounders, Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins, along with Warrick, will also have a shot to pick up or share the Amundson "dirt worker" role in the second unit. But it's too early to tell how these rooks will progress through training camp, and Clark was reportedly rusty and out of shape in the Summer League.
Channing Frye was re-signed, and quickly, for a reason. He's the back-up 5 who stretches the floor with his range (blah blah, yeah... we've heard it), but has played the 4 in the past and provides another option should Turkoglu or Warrick struggle there. Not a an All-Star option, but an option nonetheless.
The probable starting five includes Lopez, Turkoglu and Hill as a front line, with Nash and Jason Richardson in the back court. Turkoglu will see time at three positions and can run the s&r, which will help get Nash off the ball and turn him into more of a scoring threat. When the defense focuses on Nash, the lanes will open up for both J-Rich and Hill to slash to the rim. This flexibility could see Nash increase his scoring totals to help make up for the loss of Amare's 23 ppg while taking the pressure off of him to constantly create every time down the floor.
The most glaring defect the Suns face in the coming season is a familiar one: front court size. The only true inside presence the Suns have at the moment is Robin Lopez. Both skeptics and realists alike don't think Turkoglu can repalce Amare's production. And it is true: he alone cannot. But it isn't as if the Suns haven't had to deal with this situation before. Everyone will need to hit the boards, and as we witnessed last season, everyone is willing to contribute. Without an Amare or other big contributor, the Suns are once again forced to scrap and claw on every play for every board and loose ball. As Channing Frye put it, "we won't be able to cruise through the season." True, but we on Planet ORNG are used to that.
Keep in mind, there are new players, which creates new chemistry, new roles, and inevitably, new confusion. The ever-present roller coaster ride Alvin Gentry referred to all of last season hasn't changed. Get ready for it again come 2010-11, Bright Siders!