Phoenix Suns 2010-11 season predictions

As the Phoenix Suns get set to embark on yet another exciting NBA season, ValleyoftheSuns is here to sort it all out for you.

While all of our writers agreed on the Suns’ MVP for the upcoming year in our annual season predictions (they do call him Two Time for a reason), there are many potential candidates for the team’s surprise player, player on the hot seat and Achilles’ heel, and it’s tough to predict how the Suns will finish.

On the hot seat

Michael Schwartz: No Phoenix Sun faces more scrutiny than Hedo Turkoglu. If he’s Orlando Hedo, than the Suns’ offense will be lethal once again. But if he’s not a facilitator and instead a timid spot-up shooter who can’t really defend power forwards than the Suns made quite the expensive mistake this summer. Hedo must learn to be a second facilitator with Nash instead of just watching Two Time and he needs time with the second unit to help create offense for that unit. To me, Hedo’s season will determine the Suns’ season, quite the scary proposition for anybody who has watched the preseason.

Hedo Turkoglu

Mike Schmitz: Jason Richardson was terrific last season, especially in the playoffs. But it remains to be seen how he’ll perform as the No. 2 guy. He needs to prove his worth with an expiring contract looming and his backup, Josh Childress, locked up for the next five years. With that said, nobody is on the hot seat more than J-Rich.

Jason Richardson

Tyler Lockman: With Stoudemire’s departure, Richardson becomes the Suns’ primary scoring threat. Richardson hasn’t averaged 20 or more points per game since 2007-08 and his average peaked in 2005-06 at 23.2. His 15.7 last year was third most behind Stoudemire and Nash. While Lopez’s offense will have to increase as well, the pressure is on Richardson to be the team’s marquee scorer.

Jason Richardson

Tyler Emerick: As the only Phoenix player with real size and ability in the paint, it will be up to the third-year center to improve dramatically on both ends of the court. Robin Lopez’s play could be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs for the Suns.

Robin Lopez

Team MVP

Michael Schwartz: I was going to go with Turkoglu but realized you are all smart enough to know I’d be joking. If Steve Nash isn’t this team’s MVP than something went terribly, horribly wrong. It will be his responsibility to push more of these newcomers to career years, something he has done time and time again in Phoenix. There’s a reason his offenses have eviscerated the league this past decade, and with Amare Stoudemire in New York there’s even more pressure on Nash to ensure this offensive run continues.

Steve Nash

Mike Schmitz: No brainer here. Nash is the engine that makes the Phoenix Suns go. Alvin Gentry said Nash is the best point guard in the league for the system they run, and I completely agree. Yes, he’s one season closer to retirement, but Nash said he feels better than ever and doesn’t think age is a factor. His numbers may decrease slightly, but his efficiency will not.

Steve Nash

Tyler Lockman: Obvious choice with Amare Stoudemire gone, but the real challenge for Nash is to lead a group still not accustomed to each other. As the point guard and team leader, the burden of creating chemistry and flow on the court falls to Nash. His numbers could slip a bit, but there’s still no doubt he is one of the best point guards in the league.

Steve Nash

Tyler Emerick: Without the two-time MVP, the Suns are back in the lottery purposely losing games for ping pong balls. With Nash, Phoenix, if all goes right, could compete with the pack of teams behind the Lakers. Expect career years from Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress just because of the Nash effect.

Steve Nash

Surprise player

Michael Schwartz: Last season Channing Frye was a major surprise by transforming into one of the top three-point shooters in the league. This year he will surprise by becoming more of a big man than a 6-foot-11 two guard. Last year the Suns needed Frye mainly as a floor spacer, but he knows he needs to bang now, and he’s still talking about his 13-rebound finale in Game 6 against the Lakers. Frye will become a center in more than position this season, if nothing else out of necessity.

Channing Frye

Mike Schmitz: Warrick is the forgotten acquisition of the offseason, but he won’t be soon. I already made my case for Warrick starting in place of Hedo Turkoglu, and if that ends up happening he’ll thrive with Steve Nash spoon-feeding him. He has great career numbers against Phoenix, which shouldn’t change now that he’s sporting purple and orange.

Hakim Warrick

Tyler Lockman: The broken finger is a setback in terms of finding his place within this revamped team, but Childress was already showing signs of establishing a utility role. Among players getting significant minutes, Childress was the second-leading rebounder with 4.0 per game. His 51.7 shooting percentage was second only to Robin Lopez (again, among players with significant minutes). Childress may not put up big numbers but his all-around contributions will be invaluable.

Josh Childress

Tyler Emerick: The forward averaged just under 10 points per game in the preseason despite only seeing the court for 19 minutes a night. Running the pick and roll with Nash should lead to career numbers for Warrick, whose previous career high in points was in 2006-07 with 12.7.

Hakim Warrick

Achilles’ heel

Michael Schwartz: The Suns actually boasted a positive rebounding differential last season, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they were a decent rebounding team. They were the second-worst defensive rebounding team in the league, and they will be even worse without Amare Stoudemire (as mediocre as he was). Robin Lopez must be a monster on the boards, and the wings need to chip in as well or this deficiency will torpedo the season.

Defensive rebounding

Mike Schmitz: This seems like a recurring theme every year, but this could be the worst rebounding team Phoenix has ever seen. The only one who could pick up the slack on the boards is Lopez, but even he isn’t a very good rebounder. If the Suns have one glaring weakness, it’s rebounding.


Tyler Lockman: The Suns’ early schedule is brutal. There’s no getting around that. What could make it even scarier is what appears (I say appears, as they’ve yet to play a regular season game together) to be a lack of established chemistry. That’s a worrisome thing for the team that had arguably the NBA’s best chemistry last season. This team simply doesn’t look comfortable playing together yet and that could cost them in the tough early stretch. Establishing good chemistry will be the biggest key to this team’s long-term success.

Early chemistry

Tyler Emerick: In the preseason Phoenix was out rebounded by seven per game. No one on the Suns roster has a higher career rebounding average than Grant Hill, with 6.5.


Where will the Suns finish?

Michael Schwartz: I feel like I’ve traveled through time back to last year when everybody was sleeping on the Suns after a porous preseason on the glass, and the general consensus was they’d struggle just to make the playoffs. Of course, the Suns were the surprise of the NBA, coming within two games of knocking off the Lakers and reaching the Finals. My prediction is kind of a safe middle in my opinion. I could see the bottom following out, the team failing to rebound and the end of the Nash era with less than 40 wins, and I could see the pieces gelling to create that same fantastic chemistry as last year, Nash throwing up another vintage year and the Suns winning another 54 to grab a top-four playoff seed. Let’s be safe and peg them at 48.

48-34, Seventh seed

Mike Schmitz: Sure, the Suns surprised everyone last season, and that could very well be the case again this season. But there are far too many question marks and the lack of rebounding, defense and interior scoring will be too much for Nash and the Suns to overcome. Outside of the Lakers, Thunder and either Mavs or Jazz, the West is fairly open. But the Suns won’t be the ones taking advantage this season.

40-42, 10th seed

Tyler Lockman: I underestimated the Suns badly last season, and it could happen again, but the absence of a top-five power forward is a huge difference. The Suns excelled last season for a few reasons including a hot start that established confidence, incredible chemistry, three-point shooting and Stoudemire’s second-half dominantion. Except Stoudemire, those things could be replicated, but the preseason showed no signs of such. Still, the Suns should do enough to make the playoffs.

47-35, Seventh seed

Tyler Emerick: The Suns will definitely have their ups and downs, but when the season comes to an end they will be sandwiched with a group of four or five teams in the middle of the Western Conference pack.

50-32, Sixth seed

  • bigredd1987

    Now’s my chance to brag…
    Last year, I picked the suns to win 50-55 games and called them making it to the Western Conference Finals.
    While people on the Suns have been harping on the need for chemistry, we haven’t yet seen the same early reports as last year. Early chemistry seems to be less this year.
    This year, I believe they’ll get 51-52 wins. Much of that is conjecture and hope, but I think that Hill’s and Nash’s character will trickle down to the others. If that happens, watch out— Turkoglu will take up amar’e’s dominating.
    (Admittedly, i’m leaning heavily on HOPE!!!)

  • vs

    Is there a rule that VotS bloggers have to have the same first name pairs, Mike, Michael, Tyler & Tyler?

  • Kyle Fleeger

    You won’t only have to worry about Hedo getting that time. I honestly believe you will see major things out of Earl Clark. I interviewed him today at practice and he is going to use the opportunities he gets when players get injured to show the coaches “defense and hustle plays” because those get the coaches attention according to Earl. Go Clark. J Rich’s percentage on two point shots off the dribble will dictate his scoring this year. Mark my words,
    The more shots off the dribble, the fewer points Richardson scores. Post em up J Rich

  • GB

    The biggest thing blocking earl clark from performing well is earl clark. He needs to stop trying to be kobe, and stop shooting long contested jumpers and get to the rim and bang around down there. My lasting memory of earl from last year is that every time he got in, he would throw up4 – 8 quick shots, and maybe if you’re lucky that day he’ll hit over 30% of them.

  • KJ Loyalist

    Some players can grasp it in practice or summer league. EC is not one of them. He needs time with the regulars in the bench rotation. Dragon and RoLodex were TERRIBLE year 1 but they were given that “live time” regardless which allowed them to get used to the real NBA game.

    Hedo will show up in late Dec. / early Jan after the warlocks have had some time with him. If not he will get paid as a banished player.

    RoLodex is the player that must begin to dominate. If that can happen, then Warrick will start to compliment him as Nash feeds them both. J Rich will get his 20 but who cares. Those points were there before. It is Amare’s 20ppg that have to be accounted for and RoLo has to be the main one responsible for that. He doesn’t have to get them all himself. But he has to be good enough to keep those diagonal lanes open to keep our swing passes alive.

    The only other person who must come with it is Dragon!!! He must continue, no. He must increase his feasting because Nash will require more rest. He will do this and I think what you will end up seeing is a bench mob of Dragon, JMZ, Childress, Warrick, and whatever is needed.

    They will steal it, steal it, and steal it and bring relentless pressure. I don’t think rebounding will stay bad because Gentry isn’t stubborn like D’Antoni and he’ll get his boarders minutes.

    The chemistry will come, but not as quickly as last year. I’m going with 49 – 33 (6th) even though I said before that its almost impossible to know for certain what we have as a team yet.

    A .500 first half and a dominant second half.

  • Steve

    It seems like this team is going to be relying far too heavily on a bunch of guys who have the ability to perform, but either haven’t done it yet or haven’t done it for a while.

    Outside of Steve Nash, there isn’t one guy on this team who can be considered a top 50 NBA talent (one of the top 50 players in the league). That’s simply not a recipe for success. Lopez has a lot of potential, but hasn’t done it yet. Dragic has a bit of potential too, but hasn’t done it yet. Hill is very smart and hustles like mad, but his best years are long gone, Warrick has never done it, Hedo hasn’t done it for a couple of years, Richardson has been on the decline for the past few seasons… the list goes on. This team is COMPLETELY unproven, and as great as Nash is, that’s something he has never dealt with. He has always had Dirk or Amare. I don’t think Nash is going to be able to get it done with these guys.

    44-38 (9th)