The Phoenix Suns went all the way to the Conference Finals last year when few of us considered the playoff worthy. But now this team is under whelming to say the least. With only Nash and Marion on the active roster from a year ago, the Las Vegas projected line of victories for Phoenix has crumbled to 43.
That's barely enough wins to sneak into the #8 seed. What went wrong?
The Suns won 62 games last year, the most in the NBA. However, the Suns have made many transactions since the end of last year, including Joe Johnson signing with Atlanta for fame and fortune over victories. Quentin Richardson was ousted for Kurt Thomas for a better defensive frontcourt. While I didn't like this move, it was recoverable: Boris Diaw, Jim Jackson and Raja Bell could pick up the slack. But several weeks ago, Amare Stoudemire suffered a devastating injury that will keep him out until February.
The Suns title chance may have burned up right there, and won't be reborn until Stoudemire can return safely.
And it's not just the 3-month absence of Stoudemire that hurts them. Both Joe Johnson (2nd highest 3P% last year) and Quentin Richardson (led league for most 3's made last year) are gone, which will complicate Nash dishing the ball to the outside. The Suns inside and outside offense are both close to gone.
But the most troubling circumstance for Phoenix is they'll have to change how they play. This team is old all of a sudden, and small as well. 6-8 Boris Diaw will get considerable playing team at Center and SF Marion and PF Kurt Thomas have both moved up a position in the staring rotation. The Suns will have to by their time until Amare can return, because one more injury will push them out of the playoffs. When the Marlins and Angels won the World Series, all of their players had career years (or close to it) and played as a team.
The following year, both teams missed the postseason entirely. .Visit NFL Systems for more expert articles on sports.
There is absolutely no chance of Phoenix duplicating last year's success, and 43 wins seem almost generous. This is still a good team, but their one year of glory is up and maybe for good with Stoudemire absent. Blowing 16-pt 4th quarter leads to teams like Dallas won't help either. They'll make the playoffs, but their impact on the West too subtle to make a difference. What's worse is San Antonio's chance at the title has lost its one obstruction.
By: David Pincus