IN: Louis Amundson, Matt Barnes, Goran Dragic (R), Robin Lopez (R), Sean Singletary (R)
OUT: Godan Giricek, Brian Skinner, D.J Strawberry
Instead of posting some lame pun or adjective on Phoenix (as I intended to) I'll get straight to the core of the Suns.
The Phoenix Suns finished last season with a 55-27 record and somehow ended up with a no.6 seed in the East. If they had finished with 57 wins they would have taken the no.1 seed and played Denver, almost automatically qualifying them for the 2nd round.
The success of the Suns relies almost entirely on Steve Nash. They've proved that they can win for long periods of time without Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, but without Nash, they struggle. (They win less than 25% of their games without him in the line-up.)
Shaq frees STAT up to play the 4 most of the game. Its funny that fans want to bag O'Neal out about his decline and age, but he really played well for PHX all things considered. He was entering a team that just flat out runs, after playing on a team that had almost no team morale, was missing its best player and hes just expected to come in and average 20/10 for a semi-serious title contender? C'mon. Shaq is 36 yrs old damnit! He didnt know the system at all, and did what he was supposed to for the majority of the season-rebounding, scoring the occasional basket, clogging the lane and playing smart basketball in general.
In Miami last year Shaq averaged:
So, people see the numbers and see- oh, its a double double, but for Shaq thats awful. Well, the FG% for PHX was the highest of his career. And he did it in just over 28 minutes. He's not a focal point of the offense anymore, and can help Lopez and Amare out with the little things like defensive positioning and avoiding the double team down low.
Nash will once again have the weight of a franchise upon him. He wont get the rest that the Suns are talking about. Not with two rookie back-ups, one of which is a Euro, the other a 2nd round pick, who has been traded twice already.
I expect Amare to play (offensively) at an All-NBA level again (2007 1st Team, 2008 2nd Team). He'll be around 24 ppg and 10 boards, throw in 2 bpg and a steal, and hope for consistency.
The Suns will win around 53-58 games and will have a middle seed in the West-around 4-6. If they get a matchup that favours them then anything is possible, a team such as Denver or Dallas should be an entertaining series but favoured to the Suns all things considered.