ValleyoftheSuns podcast — Season preview edition

On this season preview edition of the ValleyoftheSuns podcast, Michael Schwartz, Mike Schmitz and Tyler Emerick discuss the Suns’ offseason acquisitions and Alvin Gentry’s lineup possibilities before giving their predictions on the year.

[display_podcast]

  • Dan

    Good podcast guys. Looking forward to future editions.

  • Jacob

    I don’t know.. I think the Suns have a chance to be better defensively this season than last season because the bench is more defensive minded. Goran, Childress, and Dudley are above average defenders, Channing is an average defender, while Warrick is a below average defender, so the perimeter defense should be pretty strong. I’m not concerned about Hedo as much as everyone else because I feel that he will learn to play with Steve Nash over time. I feel that while he can be used as a spot up shooter, it’s not his strong point. Alvin was talking about playing Nash off the ball more with Hedo facilitating, but while that may help Hedo’s game, it diminishes Nash’s abilities on the basketball court because while Nash is a fantastic shooter, he’s much better with the ball, setting up teammates, and creating shots for himself. For Hedo to thrive in the starting lineup, he’s going to have to play off the ball a lot more than he did in Orlando, but he’ll handle the ball more with this team than he did last year in Toronto. While I see the positives of moving Hedo to the bench, I feel that he can play well with the starting unit. It’s just going to take time to acclimate him, but once he’s settled, he will be an extremely dangerous player. Jason Richardson has spent the last two seasons getting used to his role as the third option, but now he’s being asked to return to the role he played with Golden State and Charlotte as the premier scoring option. I think he’ll excel even more as the leading offensive option in Phoenix than he did in Golden State and Charlotte because Steve Nash will set him up. For a two-guard, Richardson isn’t a great ball-handler, but that’s not a problem because Nash will be running the point. Except for maybe Baron Davis (who still wasn’t a great pass-first point guard), J-Rich has never been the leading scoring option with a great play maker. If Richardson could score 20+ points per game in Charlotte without a great point guard, imagine what he can do as the main option in Phoenix with a two-time MVP. If the Suns want to exceed expectations once again this season, Robin Lopez will have to play like he did as a starter last year. The rebound numbers will improve without Amar’e, but the main concern will Lopez’s offensive efficiency. If he’s able to score double digits while shooting above 50% from the field, he should command some double teams. If this is the case, the floor opens up for the shooters (like last season with Amar’e). However, Lopez doesn’t have the offensive explosiveness that Amar’e does, and will have to learn to have a solid post game offensively before the floor opens up. The pick and roll game will be there because Nash is great at setting it up, but in order to draw the double teams, Lopez needs a post game. This is my main concern offensively for the Suns, but if Lopez is able to contribute, the Suns will be deadly once again.
    As I mentioned before, the bench is going to be better this season than last year. While there are two new additions (Childress and Warrick) to the bench, they will fit in just fine. There’s already doubt that the bench will be able to contribute this year because of poor preseason play, but what many people don’t understand is that from a chemistry standpoint, they’ve been here before. Dudley, Amundson, and Frye were newcomers off the bench for the Suns last season, and Dragic could even be thrown into that list by getting more minutes last year. Still, this group learned to play well together and become one of the great benches in the NBA. Even with Barbosa and Amundson playing for new teams, the Suns’ bench will thrive similarly with hustle and 3-point shooting. However, now with Warrick and Childress, this year’s bench unit will be bigger, and stronger. Childress is great moving without the ball, and Warrick is solid in the pick and roll (something that the bench lacked last season). Now the bench can play similarly to how the starters did last season: the pick and roll game between Dragic and Warrick should open up the three ball for Dudley and Frye while creating driving lanes for Childress.
    With Amar’e in New York, the Sun’s glaring weakness is rebounding. This isn’t new news for Phoenix fans though, because usually Nash-led teams lose rebounding battles. What surprises me is now for some reason, every “expert” predicts the Suns to miss the playoffs and their main argument is that the Suns won’t be able to rebound at a high enough rate to win games. Now although that sounds like a fair argument, when the Suns were coached by Mike D’antoni, they lost the rebounding battle EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. and not by a little either… by a lot. Why would this season be any different? The Suns SHOULD lose the rebounding battle because they don’t have great rebounders- not to be frank. But that shouldn’t matter because historically a Nash-led team will score at will. If the Suns shoot 52 percent in a game while the other team shoots 46 percent, meanwhile the other team grabs two more offensive rebounds and two more defensive rebounds than the Suns, barring a huge difference in free-throw shooting, the Suns should still win the game, right? And that’s not even considering how many more threes Phoenix will make. Once again, rebounding does not concern me.
    Now that I think of it, this team isn’t all that much different than the 2005-2006 Suns team that won 54 games and made it to the Western Conference Finals. Let’s compare:
    Today’s Nash = Then Nash
    Richardson > Raja Bell (sorry Bell fans)
    Grant Hill <>> Then bench

    In hindsight, I’d take Grant Hill and our high-powered bench over Shawn Marion and a few decent role-players (although it’s close).

    With last year’s Suns surprising the league by winning 54 games and taking the Lakers to 6 in the Western Conference Finals, it’s difficult for me to see why the Suns won’t be able to duplicate success this season. While making the Western Conference Finals may be difficult to predict in a jam-packed conference, it’s still a reachable goal. With a stronger bench and more defensive mindset, I could see the Sun rising in Phoenix once again.

  • Jacob

    Sorry guys, my previous post is supposed to say:

    Today’s Nash = Then Nash
    Richardson > Bell (sorry Bell fans)
    Grant Hill <>> Then bench

    In hindsight, I’d take Grant Hill and our high-powered bench over Shawn Marion and a few decent role-players (although it’s close).