Who's going to take the Top Playoff Seed in the Western Conference this year? Will SAS rise to first place, only to fall flat in the postseason again? Will the Paul-Blake Experiment go all Hulk-a-mania so that LAC nabs the top spot? Will the Odom-less Lakers have enough length to do some damage? Will Dirk and DAL be as effective without their defensive juggernaut (J.J. Barea is now on the TWolves)? Or will the youth and depth of OKC garner the Thunder a trip to the NBA Finals?

Calling all prognosticators, predictors, and prophets-- in the comments below, put down the order in which you think the Western Conference teams will stand at the end of the regular season. Show everyone on the BrightSide your dazzling display of keen basketball acumen (or your dizzying display of drunken dart-throwing, whichever is appropriate). Your rankings will be kept until season's end, at which time the winner of the BrightSideoftheSun's Best Seer of the Season contest will be crowned as the Psycho Psychic.

Da' Rules: For each playoff team you rank in the correct slot, you will receive 10 points. For each playoff team that you have ONE slot below their actual position, you will receive 8 points. For each playoff team that you have ONE slot above their actual position, you will receive 7 points. For each playoff team that you have TWO slots below their actual position, you will receive 5 points. For each playoff team that you have TWO slots above their actual position, you will receive 4 points. For each playoff team that you have THREE slots below their actual position, you will receive 2 points. For each playoff team that you have THREE slots above their actual position, you will receive 1 point.

If you select all eight playoff teams correctly, you will receive a 6 point bonus. For each non-playoff team you rank in the correct slot, you will receive 2 points. If you rank every team in its proper slot, you will have 100 points.

The winner will get a Nostradamus-autographed crystal ball and the world-wide acclaim and adoration of BrightSiders everywhere!

Here are the 15 Western Conference teams (in alphabetical order):

1. DAL 2. DEN 3. GSW 4. HOU 5. LAC 6. LAL 7. MEM 8. MIN 9. NOH 10. OKC 11. PHX 12. POR 13. SAC 14.SAS 15. UTA

Cut and Paste and create your Western Conference final regular season standing!

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Suns Preseason Player Evaluations

A look at the roster coming out of training camp and preseason...


PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns looked more like a team that began practicing together 12 days ago than a squad four days away from its season opener during their 110-85 preseason finale loss to the...

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PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns looked more like a team that began practicing together 12 days ago than a squad four days away from its season opener during their 110-85 preseason finale loss to the...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) pulls a rebound down in front of Denver Nuggets' Kosta Koufos (41) during the first quarter in a preseason NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Deja Vu (all over again).

The Phoenix Suns ran out of energy early in the second half, giving up 58 points in the second half to a more controlled and consistent Denver Nuggets team. The Nugs were led by Danilo Gallinari's game-leading 23 points, and had no trouble driving the lane and, more importantly, creating foul trouble for the Suns. Both Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris were in foul trouble throughout the game.

The fan energy in the U.S. Airways Center was great early on, led by our own Dragic_is_Magic, Eutychus, and Seth Pollack, among others, who no doubt solely contributed to the combined 5 blocks for Morris and RoLo in the first half. Lopez, starting in place of the injured Marcin Gortat (right thumb), seemed quicker and more aggressive in general. Jared Dudley led the Suns in scoring with 17 athletic points on 5-6 shooting, cementing his starting spot over the more erratic Shannon Brown, who ended up 5-11 and -13.

The glaring problem here is the ability of the entire team as a whole to sustain a decent level of play over 48 minutes. From mid third-quarter on, the team looked pretty listless on both offense and defense. Josh Childress answered Alvin Gentry's call-out with a line of 0/1/1 and -14. Actually, using Childress as a scapegoat for this loss would be wrong. By the end of the game, everyone on the team had a negative +/-.

With only a few days before the season opener on Monday, the Suns still have a lot of questions. Join me after the jump if you really just don't like yourself.

The good (sort of): Hakim Warrick, Markieff Morris, Robin Lopez, Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown

The typical: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Ronnie Price, Lou Amundsen, wait whaaa

The ugly: Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Sebastian Telfair

Questions of the day:

  • Is Josh Childress just really bad, or nor a good fit with this team?
  • Will Shannon Brown's FG% stay at around 20% for the season?
  • How soon will Markieff Morris be our starting PF?
  • (Related) Will Channing Frye find his shot?
  • Will Sebastian Telfair find the floor this season?

Overall, the Suns have problems with cohesion, coordination, and closing power, among other things. Shooting 37% (29-79) for an entire game will always lead to another tick mark in the "L" column. Alvin Gentry has a tough job on his hands; the cast of characters that he has on this team, along with the abbreviated and fast-paced NBA schedule, will create one of the toughest coaching seasons in Suns history.

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/22/11 10:45 PM MST ]

Adding this postgame video from Dudley and Morris.



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