*Ed Note:  Welcome to the first piece of the 2010-11 Phoenix Suns Season in Review. For those of you have been reading BSOTS for awhile, this year will be done a bit differently than years past. We have assembled an All-Star cast of writers to put together alternative views on the players, front office, and coaches. BSOTS thrives off of opinions, and let's face it we do not always agree with one another. So why not celebrate it? Your favorite and least favorite Suns will no doubt get plenty of attention, and the compliments or criticism they deserve. I think they call this balanced reporting.....Enjoy 

Just so you all know – Jared Dudley is the future of the Phoenix Suns. You can laugh all you want but it's true.

After a 2010 season for the Suns which contained more ups and downs than a pimped out car in a Dre video, we find ourselves looking back at a season which started with so much uncertainty and excitement and ended with the team ultimately falling short of the play-offs. And heading toward the 2011 season (lockout - yawn - permitting) there are still a number of question marks surrounding the existing team and who will be around for the coming season.


Respect has to go to the Front Office as they tied Dudley up early to a four year $17 million contract which he duly signed, although it could have easily backfired. Rather than motivating players to work hard, repay the franchise for the faith they've shown and live up to the contract, the extra money appears to make it easy for players to coast through the seasons whilst sitting contently on their fat contracts safe in the knowledge that they're getting paid. But with Dudley, there was no such slacking. He went straight to work.


Endless hours of shooting jump shots, playing in summer scrimmages and working on his game helped the former chubby Dudley slim down to 225lbs and look markedly different heading into 2010. It wasn't just his body that experienced a makeover as his tireless work in the off-season also brought about an improved offensive game which now included a previously unseen off the dribble jumper – a key weapon in any NBA players arsenal. If he has shown that he's willing to work that hard immediately after signing a contract, what's to say he wont continue to improve every season from here on out? And if he does that, what's to say he couldn't challenge others at his position and be a top 15 small forward? After all, the only ceiling to his potential is the one imposed by his lack of athleticism.


Dudley started the 2010 season slowly despite all the changes to himself and his game and early on there were calls for 'chubby Dudley' to return. The man from 2009 who had captured fans hearts with his reliable spot up jump shot and all out hustle, appeared to have been replaced by a slimmer version who wasn't able to find his game. Over the first 15 games of the season, Dudley was only shooting 37.1% from the field and a dismal 25% from beyond the arc. And like a golfer who embarks on a weight loss program to help his health but finds that the flip-side of getting healthy is having the mechanics of his game changed to his detriment, Dudley appeared to be struggling in his new body. But slowly and surely it came back to him.



Defence? Check. Hustle? Check. Key rebounds? Check. Jump shot? Check. Off the dribble jumper? Check. Dudley's game grew in leaps and bounds and on the 23rd December, Dudley showed the world what he could do.


Upstaging even the mighty Lebron James, Dudley went for 33 and 12 in 42 minutes, going 11-for-16 from two point range, 4-of-6 beyond the arc and 7-for-10 from the line. It was a complete game for Dudz and the coming out party that fans had long anticipated.


Dudley was here.


Losses mounted for the Suns over the coming months though and despite some stellar performances from Dudley (21 points on 72% shooting from 2 against the Clippers, 25 and 8 against the Hornets and 26, 8 and 5 steals against the T-Wolves to name just a few) the season would end without a play-off appearance. It had been an incredible season for Dudley and one that had seen him expand his game beyond what fans thought was possible. He showed how valuable he could be to the franchise over the coming years, all whilst being only the 9th best paid player on the team. Let me quantify Dudley's worth for you...


Earning the same as Hakim Warrick at $4.25 million a year starting from next season, Dudley is a bargain. He earned half of that sum this year but even though he signed a contract which from 2011 will essentially double 2010's and triple 2009's earnings, he never stopped working. He improved his game, he gained starters minutes towards the end of the year (playing 35+ minutes a night over 7 of the last 13 games), he found his 3 point shot as the season went on, he entertained us with his all too infrequent JMZ videos and coaxed us into staying tuned until the final games of the season just to watch him tick the 'Dudley-dunk-o-meter' over to 10 against the New Orleans Hornets. He's Mr Versatile.


Year 2010 is the year Dudley showed people outside of Phoenix that he can ball and showed people inside Phoenix that he can be trusted to lead the franchise through the coming years. I'm hitching my wagon to Dudley, who's with me?


On Tuesday Grant Hill became the first active player to be elected to the basketball Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors. It remains to be seen whether Hill will also become the first player...

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If you're a Suns fan who hates that our beloved team seems to let too many quality players go, tonight's NBA playoff games might be rough for you. Ex-Suns Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark, Quentin Richardson, Earl Barron, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd will all be participating in playoff action for other teams. I know this is a little depressing to consider; that's why I included the Earls on the list for comic relief. Also, you can watch Josh Smith and fantasize about how good he'd look in purple and orange.

Tonight's action:

New York at Boston, TNT, 4PM PDT. Celtics lead series 1-0.

Atlanta at Orlando, NBA TV, 4:30PM PDT. Hawks lead series 1-0.

Portland at Dallas, TNT, 6:30PM PDT. Mavericks lead series 1-0.


Update: As Fritzy notes below, I neglected to mention that Shaquille O'Neal is a former Sun, too.  Apparently, I've conveniently deleted memories of that ever happening, and I prefer to keep it that way.

PHOENIX — Wherever you stand on the Steve Nash debate, there’s no debating the Phoenix Suns flat out weren’t good enough this season. With a 40-42 record that featured bouts of inconsistency...

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Not the lineup we predicted in the preseason. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 Last fall, the BSotS staff put together a series of Season Preview articles, culminating with my "Summary and Forecast" article. Overall, the preview was written with a Bright-Side optimistic bent, drizzled with a healthy does of doom and gloom forecasting.


(scroll down the left-hand bar on BSotS home page to check out each article. Or, click on the Summary and Forecast link above. The first paragraph of that article has links to the others.)

Back then, a number of us were anticipating the season through purple-and-orange colored lenses. Hedo manning the PF spot. Robin Lopez producing a near All-Star season. Hakim Warrick giving us an Amare-lite. Josh Childress and the wings improving on the Suns' perimeter defense.

But of course the Suns rotation consisted of 2 Centers, 2 Point Guards and 6 Wings. That might not have been the season's death nell. Just look at Denver Nuggets. After the Carmelo Anthony trade, that's exactly the makeup of their rotation and it's producing incredible results.

But the Suns' version fell flat on its face.

At its best, this team may be well-oiled, supremely maintained and able to hit 60 in less than 6 seconds, but ultimately it's a cobbled-together pile of spare parts built around a 240,000 mile engine.

Reasons the Suns will suck

  1. No lowpost scoring, unless Lopez is playing (and that's iffy still)
  2. No interior defense at PF. Turk is more likely to be injury-prone due to excessive banging.
  3. Health - aging Nash and Hill and Turkoglu, plus injury-prone Lopez
  4. Lack of all-star quality closer on the court alongside Nash
  5. J-Rich's expiring contract will not be as valuable as hoped
  6. Inevitable regression to the mean. Frye, Dudley, Lopez, Dragic, Hill. All exceeded expectations last year to surprise the opposition. Logic says at least one will regress, if not a few of these guys.

That was my preseason list of things that could go wrong, and they all seemingly did. I forget what lowpost scoring even looks like. Defense, health, dearth of closers and regression to the mean all bit the Suns in the butts themselves.

Here's a good laugh:

Reasons the Suns will prosper

  1. Smarter basketball. Hedo and Childress are smart players.
  2. 4-out offense is tough to defend. Just ask Orlando. You can't double the post because the Suns will have 4 guys hanging on the outer perimeter until someone slashes to the basket.
  3. Aggressive, disruptive perimeter defense
  4. Amare's remaining 5.7 million TPE and movable assets, along with Suns still 8 million under lux tax. Reinforcements can be had for little to nothing, if necessary (ie. lots of injuries)
  5. Depth at wing positions and playmakers
  6. Alvin Gentry will get the most out of this rotation

#2 kinda came true, as the Suns produced some nice offensive numbers with Hedo and JRich in the fold. But their defense was the worst the NBA has seen in many years. The worst.

Otherwise, none of those actually helped the Suns "prosper".

Hindsight is 20/20

Prescience, in the form of BSotS and SBNation writers:

Jose Romero (SBNation AZ):

(most disappointing player)
"Goran Dragic. Regresses after decent 2009-2010. His shooting will be there but the Suns will be looking for a more true point guard when they see that Dragic is struggling to run the team and grasp offense/defense." 

watdogg (BSotS):

"This season I think the Suns will be battling for the final 2 Playoff seeds with San Antonio, Memphis, Houston and the Clippers. I think Memphis makes the leap (with Mayo, Gasol and Gay all maturing and carrying them) into the 8th seed and San Antonio wraps up the 7th leaving the Suns, Rockets and Clippers as the odd teams out."

Trevor Paxton (BSotS):

"The Suns are going to be a bubble team this year. The teams we will be fighting out for the 7 or 8 seed will be San Antonio, Memphis, New Orleans, and the Clippers. I think San Antonio has enough veteran gusto to snatch the 7 seed, so that leaves the Grizz, the Hornets and the Clips. Of those three (four including us), I think the Grizzlies will take the cake, leaving us out to dry. We will finish 10th in the Conference, missing the playoffs."

Of course, Trevor wasn't perfect though. He next predicted the Suns' non-Nash MVP:

"Josh Childress. While his averages prior to leaving the NBA were already pretty solid, he is going to have a monster year. Playing in a wide open style where he is (mostly) free to wander the court, Childress will find himself with more offensive opportunities than he's ever had. On top of that, I think he has the potential to be the team's leading rebounder - whether that's a good thing or not. Overall, I feel Chilly is going to have a great season, and who knows - maybe even pick up 6th Man of the Year honors?" 


Of course, there were other terrible predictions as well...

Wil Cantrell (BSotS):
(regarding biggest storyline of a positive nature)
"Alvin Gentry coaches his squad through front office and locker room changes to a winning season. The season starts slow as the second unit has trouble establishing their roles. However, they recover to win 12 straight games down the stretch to gain the 8th seed and knock out the stupid Spurs. The new acquisitions: Turk, Chill, and Warrick learn the system and fit in like Suns jigsaw puzzle pieces."

(predicting the season's most disappointing player)
"Channing Frye. Cannot find his touch and proves more worthless defensively than a year ago when asked to play PF and hit the rack."

Alex Laugan (BSotS):

I personally see the Suns hitting 50+ wins and a top-6 playoff seed. Why so optimistic? Because except for the Porter/Shaq season, 54 wins and 6 seed are the low water marks for the modern Nashian Age. The team's style is going to be so different from everyone else's that the regular season should be pretty successful, simply because the opponent will be unfamiliar with their offense.

And I wouldn't put it past Gentry to come up with equally unexpected defensive schemes. The zone was surprisingly effective against the Lakers in the WCF. Maybe they'll use it again this year. Other teams are working on the zone in preseason, citing the Suns as a successful example. Even moreso, the Suns are going to be aggressive in the passing lanes. Disruption is the key word going about lately.


Good thing Wil and I aren't the only ones on BSotS making predictions.


Coming up!

Over the next few weeks, you'll see player recaps as well as coach and front office evaluations from the 2010-2011 season. Before we start, I thought we ought to take a trip down memory lane to remind ourselves that hindsight is MUCH MUCH easier than foresight.

What was YOUR preseason prediction for the Suns?

  388 votes | Results

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