If the Phoenix Suns plan to take part in the postseason, it would probably be a good idea to win this game tonight against another WC foe, the Utah Jazz.
The Suns currently sit in the 12th seed, tied with Golden State, 3 games back from 8th place Houston. Tonight the Suns could help themselves out by downing the 10th seeded Utah Jazz who are only a game ahead of the purple and orange. Al Jefferson leads the Jazz 19 and 9, and has scored in double figures in every game he has played in this season save for his first outing against the Lakers on December 27. Of course Jefferson is not impervious to making the Jazz faithful "cringe." Check out what Amar from SLC Dunk had to say about Aljeff:
Big Al had a great game against the Detroit Pistons: 33 points, 12 rebounds, and he even made one three pointer. We can extoll his virtues for shooting 14/18, but also cringe at his 1 assist to 4 turn overs. Still, all things considered (including the win), it was a remarkable night for a remarkable individual. It was a night that I will not easily forget.
GETTING DOWN TO BRASS TACKS
It dawned on this blog guy that any key to a Suns win is the same every night out. Play a complete game. There's very very little margin for error. When they play defense and out-rebound their foe, they usually win. So why turn this into more than what it is? The deal is this, the Suns need to play with heart and intensity for 48 minutes. The Jazz have a couple of beasts in the front line in Jefferson and Milsap. Jeff has had some success versus the Suns to the tune of 20 and 11 in 17 games. However, he averages 17 FG attempts a game to pick up those 20 points. Josh Howard is probable for the game tonight. While not a Suns killer, he could be categorized as a Suns abuser, averaging 18 and 7 over 18 career games.
Marcin Gortat is coming off of one of his worst games in recent memory with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 personal fouls. Do you think Polish Heritage Night distracted him? Said Gortat of his poor performance in the Minnesota game: "After the game, I was in a big black hole because I didn't help the team," Gortat said. "I didn't play. It was bad. It was definitely like a wake-up call. Once in a while, you need a game like that to bring your ass back from the sky to Earth. It was a game to make me be sure to be humble again." The Suns will certainly need the Hammer if they hope to have success against the Jazz.
And now, a special feature, my brothers and sisters, 5 questions with SLC Dunk's very own, Amar:
WC: The Jazz and Suns are both in the midst of this crowded Western Conference race. How do see the stretch run playing out for the Jazz? Do you think they have what it takes to make the postseason?
A: I think that the Jazz brass have clearly put out a "Playoffs or Bust!" sign on their team plane. That's the message I get when they are turning down rumored offers for Josh Howard. Nothing else says 'win now' like starting Josh Howard. Sadly, for the Jazz brass, I don't think the Jazz are going to make the playoffs -- unless a couple of other teams start tanking. The front office expects a broken team with incompatible parts to overachieve. What Jazz fans are going to get is a gutsy performance down the stretch that solidly gets the Jazz the #13 or #14 pick in the draft.
WC: Obviously Raja Bell is a former Sun, and many people would love to have him back. So, what was up with the recent altercation between Bell and coach Corbin?
A: Before he was a Suns player he was a Jazz player though, and for the most part, a lot of Jazz fans still hold a lot of affection for the veteran guard. He's having a remarkable year shooting the ball when you look at his percentages. He's also starting and playing half the game -- while not clearly being identified as a long term asset of the team going forward. Some don't understand the whole tiff between he and Head Coach (and former Suns player himself) Tyrone Corbin. It's not a 'minutes' argument, but perhaps it's a 'usage' argument? Andrei Kirilenko had similar problems that playing a lot of minutes didn't solve. At times the Jazz offense seems to shun the guards while Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap are on the court. Bell plays a lot of his minutes on the court with those two guys. Bell's a vet's vet -- so he's not precisely asking to take more shots a game, but the only guy on the entire team with a lower USG% is Jeremy Evans. On the record I really do not know much except both parties always say the right thing, but perhaps there are other concerns that are only aired out behind closed doors? Maybe Bell used Ty's ointment and didn't put the cap back after he was done? (Yes, old age home joke)
WC: How has the absence of Jerry Sloan affected the Jazz organization? As a fan, have you all moved on?
A: Jerry Sloan was the one major stabilizing force that everything was built around. He wasn't the cherry on the top, he was the foundation stone. Removing him has caused a lot of problems, mainly in terms of trying to find a leader and a direction. In his absence there has been a larger power vacuum than even I expected, and it's been filled up by . . . no one. Moving beyond Sloan, on the court it makes a huge difference as Tyrone Corbin can't swear at referees all game long and not get called for technical fouls. Also, Ty can jump up and down on the sidelines and it doesn't affect the game at all. He's essentially a rookie too, and the refs don't give him the benefit of the doubt on the sideline. The result is that (even at home) the Jazz are getting less calls despite playing the same players in the same system with the same playbook. I actually did the math. Yes, I need more hobbies.
Jazz fans will never get over Sloan, I'm taking a break from tweeting about Sloan's departure with four Jazz fans (two bloggers) right now to write these answers. It's something we can't get over, and it's something we all end up rehashing and yelling about online every few weeks.
WC: Many Suns fans absolutely adore Paul Milsap. How valuable is he to the Jazz?
A: Paul Millsap is even undervalued by his own franchise and the fans of this franchise. He's a second round pick who played behind three guys who were PF All-Stars (Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and Mehmet Okur) who despite no development from the coaching staff built himself up to be a complete player who could do so many more things than he could as a 'hustle guy' from a small school. He's a great story. Sadly, people seem to overlook him still because Al Jefferson takes 20 shots a game and the Jazz have Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter waiting in the wings. His value with the team is decreasing, despite the fact that he still does all the things you love. It is beyond reason. Clearly, Millsap's value is not based upon any logic; to me he is invaluable. But I do not speak on behalf of the Jazz.
WC: Thoughts and predictions on tonight's matchup?
A: I predict that if Alec Burks gets another DNP-CD I will drive to Utah to start shooting people.Other than that, I think it will be a very fun game where I get to see this improved Suns Defense ! : )
I was asked who was better, Nash or Stockton. I thought it was only fair to retort and then ask the same of my counterpart:
A: Who's better? Nash is one of my favorite players, favourite even as I was born in Canada, and he's super impressive on offense. A total maestro. Even in the most mundane of metrics (the guys who played 50+ games in a season who finished it shooting 50 / 40 / 90 ), Nash excels. Yes, his name eclipses those of Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki in that regard. You call your agent every day to try to get him to get you on a team with Nash starting on it. I would. All of that said, homer hat fully on -- Stockton is better because the refs gave him more leeway on defense in terms of being "scrappy" (aka fouling). You don't end up leading the NBA in Total Steals without getting the respect from the refs. And in that regard, Stockton is way ahead of Nash. Is it fair? Obviously not. Stockton is better, but in the end there really is no 'loser' in this debate. Both are Epic Point Gods.
Check this out if you're interested in my point of view on some further Suns related Q&A
Well, the 2012 NBA Trade Season is officially under way. The Golden State Warriors finally broke up their undersized back court and sent Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown's
expiring contract hands to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.
I'm not exactly sure I like this trade for either team and I definitely think both teams took some big risks. The Warriors gave away Udoh who I really like and are still stuck with Andris Biedrins' $18m owed over the next two year and they gave up one of the league's best scorers to get Bogut and Jackson.
Jackson is a head case but maybe he'll be OK back in Oakland where he was last seen leading the "We Believe" Warriors to a first-round upset over the Mavericks in 2008 before demanding a trade the following year. Some how, I don't see he and Mark Jackson getting along.
Bogut is out with a broken ankle for the rest of the season. He's a top five center when healthy but hasn't been healthy. Bogut hasn't played more than 70 games in a season since 2007-08. Maybe he's unlucky with a fall that broke his elbow and this year's ankle break. The Warriors better hope so since he's owed $27m over the next two seasons.
If GSW is paying over $20m a year for two centers, they better get some production...or at least some court time.
For the Bucks, they dump Jackson and give Bogut the trade he wanted as well. But on the flip side, the end up with the same problem the Warriors had, and undersized back court. Monta Ellis might be smiling now, but a few weeks with Scott Skiles will likely change that. It's hard to see this ending well for them either.
Two more day until the deadline which is at 3pm ET / noon AZT on Thursday.
Oh, and if you believe the likes of Peter Vecsey (who's not very reliable in these matters), the Suns were almost part of this deal:
Peter Vecsey: Dwight Howard’s days with Orlando Magic numbered ... or not - NYPOST.com
Last week, it looked like the two-for-one deal (Robin Lopez would have been obtained from Phoenix and rerouted to Milwaukee) was almost 100 percent approved by both sides.
IF, and by that I mean IF, this rumor is true, it would signify that the Suns aren't keen on matching offers for Lopez this summer so he could be moved before the deadline. Then again, who the hell knows.
Hey everyone, here is the second video in my college players to watch during March Madness series. In this video I listed my four favorite small forwards and shooting guards (Harrison Barnes, Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb, and Bradley Beal) who I believe could be of interest to the Phoenix Suns in the up-coming draft.
Like I mentioned in my last post, with the draft still months away it's impossible to know exactly what direction the Suns will choose to go regarding the players they may be interested in. This purpose of this video is to identify some of my personal favorite shooting guards and small forwards in college this season that the Suns could pick in the first round. Unlike the point guards, all of these wings are projected to be first round picks due to the number of talent at the position this year, so I wanted to focus on the players that would likely make the biggest impact.
I believe all four of these players could be great additions to the Phoenix Suns for various reasons, and I believe that they are all going to be realistic possibilities for the Suns in the coming draft.
Read on after the jump to view the video...
One more thing...as I explain in the video, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is not featured in this compilation because he recently guaranteed that he will be returning to Kentucky next year instead of entering the draft. He is my favorite overall player at the wing position this season, but I didn't want to spend time covering a player that I knew would not be in this year's draft, so I spent that time focusing on the other players instead.
Take a look at the video below and let me know what you think!
Excuse the side note here, but as I'm rewatching the Phoenix Suns vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game from Monday night, I'm less concerned about the Suns and more impressed with the Wolves. That is a dangerous team with only a few holes to fill. With a couple of smart moves, they are going to be good for a long, long time.
Up front they have two bigs who can both score inside and Kevin Love gives you range as well to spread the floor. With Rick Adelman's offensive genius and Luke Ridnour's passing they clearly know exactly how to get the most out of those two playing off each other in the pick and roll. Add in Love's excellent passing either out of the double team or the high post and that's solid a solid tandem.
This team can attack you in the low post, from the high post with Love (playing the role Chris Webber filled in Sacramento) and in the pick and roll. That's impressive.
When Rubio comes back, you have a great play-maker and chemistry guy who also is an above average defender. He might not shoot the ball well, but offense really isn't the issue on this team with Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea off the bench. Either of those guys are capable of changing games by taking advantage of opponents' second unit weaknesses.
The problem, obviously, is on the wings. Martell Webster, Wesley Johnson and Wayne Ellington all do pretty much the same thing and none of them are great defenders. Ellington is a good spot up three point shooter. Johnson has the ability to score but still looks a bit lost. Webster is a vet but seems to have lost his edge.
What they need is a lock down perimeter defender who can cover shooting guards and small forwards and is good enough that you can't completely ignore him at the three point line.
A guy like Trevor Ariza would be perfect for them. Shawn Marion as well. If the Wolves are shopping Michael Beasley as has been reported, they should definitely give the Hornets a call. Ariza, or a guy like him, makes that team top five in the West next year.
And now back to the Suns who have far more holes to fill.