With each great season, comes a seemingly forgettable one. What do you remember about the 2001-2002 season? Shawn Marion winning player of the week once? Tom Gugliotta overcoming his hand-eye coordination deficiency to play basketball? More than likely you remember Raja Bell draining the three against the Clippers in ‘06. Or that pure gut feeling of adrenaline when Kevin Johnson came out from retirement in the stretch run of ‘00. And of course, anytime Steve Nash ever does anything.

The question for this season remains; Will we witness the Phoenix Suns find their rhythm and give us another season to remember? Or will we hear the story of how the Suns set quietly into the night? We’ve been here before, the year following a memorable season with question marks littering the roster. How do these Suns compare to the morning after effect teams of past? (Forgive my title, please)

Unfortunately, I’m very new to analyzing basketball stats so don’t expect an abundance of shiny graphs or anything like that. 

1994-1995 59-23

What happened: Kevin Johnson is swallowed by Shaq in the preseason and misses 36 games. The starting PF and future hall of famer Charles Barkley, is hampered by lingering injuries and sits out over 20 games. Yet somehow this team showed unbelievable resiliency in its depth to compile the best record in the NBA, ultimately falling to the reigning champs in the Conference Semis. 

I’m sure I’ll lose credibility here, but these are some of my earliest memories. I have no idea where I was, but I remember rooting for KJ as he dropped forty-six points in that game seven against the Rockets

1995-1996 41-41

What happened: The strong depth dissipates just enough and five rookies are brought on the roster with Michael Finley being the biggest producer out of them. Barkley was his usual dominate self, but injuries to KJ and Danny Manning hurt the team which finished with a .500 record. Still good enough for seventh place,however the Spurs were quick to dispatch us in four games.

Unfortunately I don’t have much memory of this seemingly lost season. This appeared largely like a  forgettable campaign judging by the stats and the replacement of Coach Westphal midseason. 

On a side note, how good does it feel to have swept the Spurs last season?

Comparison to 2010 Suns: Just like the ‘95 Suns, this year we’re hot off a playoff run which ended in dramatic fashion. But unlike the ‘95 team, this one (hopefully) will display one of the strongest benches in the league. That seemed to be a shortfall of Westphals group. What that team did have was Barkley, a presence this team will certainly lack. A presence that team did miss was a lacked of a center, something which Lopez may finally cover. The one variable we cannot count for is the injury bug. Knock on wood.

2000-2001 51-31

What happened: Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd happened. Marion averaged a double-double while Kidd only gave assists to the tune of 9.8 a game. On top of that, the defense was huge that year, limiting opponents to 91.8 points per game. Early and late season surges powered the Suns to the sixth-seed where they met the Kings in the first round. While that series was disappointing, the future was bright with Kidd and Marion at the helm.

Looking back, that team seems like a hodgepodge of players. Though they were effective, Cliff Robinson even went for 50 points against Nuggets the year before.

2001-2002 36-46

What happened: The French Fry. I’m sure no refresher is required in this one. To his credit, Marbury performed well enough to garner himself a bobble head night, but the team just couldn’t come together. The few bright spots were the continual development of Shawn Marion and the new Arkansas kid, Joe Johnson. But beyond that, the biggest news that season was Thunder Dan rejoining the team, to which the fans rejoiced.

I remember being royally pissed when Jason Kidd was dealt, but I was late for soccer practice and didn’t have time to hear the story.. Also I remember walking in the stadium and seeing an old lady kiss the televised image of Dan Majerle. As for memories of basketball, meh! The Dbacks just dethroned the Yanks. Woo-hoo!

Comparison to 2010 Suns: Marbury played just below all-star level at point guard while shooting 42% from the field, you can be sure Nash will have higher marks. Big Jake was given an opportunity at center but only pulled in five rebounds per game. Lopez will should perform at a much higher level than that. Our offensive production will undoubtedly be higher than the 95.1 PPG the ‘01 team posted. However, I think we would all be absolutely thrilled with a defense that allowed only 95.8 PPG.

2009-2010 54-28

2010-2011 

I would say we fans are… anxious to see how this 2010-2011 season plays out for our beloved Suns. Many have lowered their expectations, even our fearless leader number 13 has expressed doubt. Our fingers are inching closer to that panic button even before the first tip-off. And why shouldn’t they? An atrocious preseason, an all-star sized hole in the line-up and the never ending complaint of an aging roster. Yet, I’m excited to see Nash and company size up the competition. How many buzzer beaters will we see this year? How many overtimes will break our hearts? How many times must we listen to Scott Williams announce? Folks for better or worse, this is Phoenix Suns basketball



PHOENIX — The more things change, the more they remain the same. Such is life on Planet Orange after an offseason in which the Suns changed the focus of their roster in the aftermath of Amare...

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There's been a lot of talk about what Nash might have meant with his comments yesterday (posted here). Some felt he was sending a message to ownership that he's not happy and they better do something and others want to down play his comments as if nothing is wrong.

Personally, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Steve's been talking about the challenges of incorporating new players and having to re-learn the team since media day so this isn't out of the blue. He's clearly frustrated by the situation and at the same time doesn't really seem to want to blame anyone. My guess is that he's simply adjusting to a new reality which differs from where his head was at all summer long. He thought the Suns were nearly a championship team and expected (or hoped) to come back and pick up where they left off. The reality he's found is that this team is going to take a lot more time to regain where it was.

He's not saying this team can't be good. He's not saying the Suns won't make the playoffs. He's saying that it's going to take some time to figure things out. He's not happy about that -- who would be -- but he's not pulling the plug or taking pot-shots at the owner. At least that's my take on things. 

Now, on to the last practice before the team hit the road for the season opener tomorrow in Portland.

Steve Nash

  • "We worked really hard, we didn't play our best and we're not a finished product yet. Our results weren't good in the preseason but we worked out butts off and hopefully we put ourselves in a position to start fresh and really do well out of the gate."
  • "We've got a lot of work to do and we need time but hopefully we'll be able to get out there and fight and make some things happen and win some games while we're trying to figure it out."
  • The West is going to be equally or tougher than last year. The West is still stronger top to bottom than the East. The teams that didn't make the playoffs last year are pretty precocious.

Audio: Nash practice 102510

Alvin Gentry

  • "We'll see where we are as a team. Obviously, we have a lot of work that we still have to do. Early season schedule will give us an idea of where we need to be."
  • We could use more preseason time because we have six new guys we're trying to teach to play the way we want to play.
  • Josh Childress is a game time decision. 
  • The players from both sides (Portland or Phoenix) aren't thinking about the playoffs from last year. "I don't know if they are thinking revenge." 
  • "I was hoping we could gel a little bit quicker. But when you added significant guys to your team, you know we added three guys that are definitely going to play a lot of minutes for us and be in the rotation, so that gets to be hard. You want it all to fall into place and work out but sometimes it doesn't."
  • Will keep working at it.

Audio: Gentry practice 102510

Grant Hill

  • Grant talked about how last season was built off the previous difficult year (08-09) and the team only added Channing while this year is much more complicated.
  • "We have some great new additions but you can't just put all the ingredients in a pot and snap your fingers and expect it all to be there."
  • Grant is hopeful that with the combination of good guys and talented players, it will all work out. 
  • "I think we spend so much time focusing on what we don't do well, we need to understand what we do do well and who we are and how we play."

Audio: Grant Hill practice 102510

Hedo Turkoglu

  • "We are small so we really have to be focused on defense."
  • Hedo says he is feeling more and more comfortable with his new team but thinks it will take more time. He is focused on bringing his energy and desire every night.
  • Physically, he's feeling better after a long summer and thinks that once the season starts he will have more time to recover. The Suns have practiced hard this preseason.
  • Hedo said he doesn't mind at all if Gentry wants him to come off the bench.
  • "I've been a team guy all my career. Whatever is good for the team, I will do it."
  • Hedo is happy about Allen Iverson signing to play in Turkey. He's a Hall of Famer to Hedo so him going to Turkey is huge for the country.
  • There's five guys from Turkey in the NBA. "It makes me happy, man."

 

Josh Childress

  • Josh did some different drills today with a rather large splint on his right index finger. He will be evaluated after today's practice. He thinks he will know by tomorrow's shoot around if he can play. 
  • The big issue is to make sure it doesn't get worse because if it does it could require surgery.
  • When shooting, he has to pull the index finger back and shoot with the other four fingers. Everything he does on the court is painful.
  • Josh said he hasn't played Halo for about a week.
  • Asked about the other option, Josh said, "I do not have a left hand."


Check out this cool Steve Nash pumpkin someone posted on our Facebook page. Neat.







Steve Nash Not Exactly Optimistic

This story got a lot of play around the NBA world for the Nash quote about not picking the Suns to be in the playoffs.

But really I think the point is his continued frustration with just how far this team stepped back from last year and having to adjust his own expectations. I don't even think he's blaming anyone as much as just working things out in his own mind.

He's not saying they can't figure it out, but having seen the team play in preseason he and pretty much everyone else in that locker room knows they have a lot of work to do.

It's fine to remain hopeful, but right now the vibe from the Suns isn't confidence as much as uncertainty.


Grant Hill is at Peace, I However, am Not

This article hit me wrong, made me think about for all Hill and Nash have done, maybe they deserve more from ownership to send them out as winners. What do you think?


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