PHOENIX — When the Phoenix Suns lost Amare Stoudemire in free agency and Jason Richardson to a trade, the offensive burden on Steve Nash became unbearable.
The Suns slipped from their perennial spot atop the offensive efficiency rankings all the way down to ninth, and they lacked a player Nash could just throw it to for a basket that Two Time didn’t need to create himself in crunch time.
Thus amid all the talk of improving the NBA’s 25th most efficient defense, the Suns know they must acquire an elite scorer as well this offseason.
“I still think that we need that go-to guy, a guy that we can throw the ball to at the end of games where he can go get us a basket,” said head coach Alvin Gentry. “I think that’s asking a lot of Steve to do it all the time, you know, screen and rolls or whatever. I think he needs to be able to have a guy that we can throw it to that we know is either going to get us foul shots or be able to facilitate a play for someone else or be able to get a basket for himself.”
The hope on Planet Orange after the Orlando was that Vince Carter could take over the go-to guy role he has played for the majority of his career, especially with Nash setting him up for easy hoops, but that never materialized.
Instead Channing Frye became a player the Suns often went to in crunch time but those baskets were often scored on set plays that freed Frye up for jumpers. Aside from Grant Hill on a limited basis with his pull-up jumpers and Aaron Brooks off the bench, the majority of the team is reliant on Nash to create for them.
Gentry mentioned how all of the teams that enjoyed success in the playoffs this season have a player like that, with LeBron and Wade for the Heat, Dirk for Dallas, Rose for the Bulls, Durant for the Thunder and so on down the line.
“It’s something that you have to have really,” Gentry said. “You’ve got to have that guy you can throw it to, so that would be the thing that I think we would try to address.”
The go-to guys on the teams Gentry brought up are perhaps the league’s five best players. Phoenix isn’t going to acquire anybody close to them of course, but the Suns’ coach was just trying to show how badly his team needs somebody who can create his own shot.
There won’t be any reasonable facsimile of an immediate go-to scorer at 13 (although Jordan Hamilton is perhaps the best of the bunch in this department), so Gentry said the team will “explore all the avenues” to acquire such a player.
“There’s a lot of different things and a lot of situations we can look at to try to address that, and I think we’ll look at all of those and try to see,” he said. “And it might not happen, and if not then we have to create an environment where we’re confident enough that we can score at the end of games and come up with stops.”
According to The Arizona Republic, the Suns worked out Texas’ Hamilton and Washington State’s Klay Thompson on Friday — serious possibilities at 13 — along with a host of players not expected to be selected with Phoenix’s lottery pick.
Tags: Alvin Gentry