I don’t know if it’s a case of copycat voting or what, but you readers seem to be in strong agreement against the Suns playing an eight-man rotation, according to last week’s poll.
My journalism profs taught me enough for me to know there’s quite a bit of margin for error when counting only 143 votes, as is the number in my poll at the time of this writing, but with only three of those voters favoring an eight-man rotation that says something.
Hell, even the “Don’t forget about Alando Tucker” joke choice scored 18 percent of the vote.
At this point in the season, I favor something in between a true eight-man and 10-man rotation with a few minutes for rookies Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic. In recent days Lou Amundson is throwing his name into the conversation for minutes as well, not to mention Tucker, still a few weeks away after knee surgery.
But there’s no question the bench has struggled in nearly every game, particularly when head coach Terry Porter has tried using a group of bench players in a unit.
I’m not here to suggest an eight-man rotation – presumably including Nash, Raja, Barnes, Amare, Shaq, Hill, Diaw and Barbosa – especially with the Suns’ emphasis on cutting down minutes for Nash (backed up by Dragic) and Shaq (backed up by Lopez).
Those two rookies have a future with this team when Nash and Shaq inevitably conk out or retire and the organization is forced to rebuild around Amare.
Dragic has averaged 2.3 points and 1.4 assists per game in 14.6 minutes per contest thus far. He’s shooting 26.1 percent and turned the ball over 1.43 times per game in his short playing time, which equals 4.7 per 48 minutes. The rookie has looked unsure with the ball, and opponents have been all too willing to pressure him.
This isn’t to say Dragic sucks, as he’s still learning and improving every day, but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) that’s quite a drop off from Steve Nash to his backup.
Lopez has played fine in his limited time, averaging 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in 13.6 minutes on top of 1.2 blocks per contest for an impressive 4.2 per 48 minutes.
He still fouls too much and is quite an offensive drop off from Shaq, but he is a player who can make an impact for the Suns.
Still, all things considered, in the playoffs (and possibly in April) you’ve got to go with your best eight guys.
Although the Suns’ top eight at this point doesn’t include a true backup point guard or center, they have enough interchangeable pieces in Hill, Diaw and Barbosa to make that work.
Hopefully more balanced time early in the year will keep their starters fresh all season and give the team options to combat injuries and matchup problems down the road when inevitably an eight-man rotation will become the best choice.