This is the inaugural edition of Sun-N-Gun’s Weekly Writer’s Roundup where we informally discuss some topics in the NBA realm with a focus on the Phoenix Suns, but touch on some league-wide subjects.
Lets get to it!
1. This was a terrible season for the Phoenix Suns, but what are the positives?
ERIC: While this season was a disaster, I am very optimistic and like to see improvement in players. I liked what I saw from Kendall Marshall in the last week of the season, the emergence of Wesley Johnson as a decent wing player, and Goran Dragic taking leadership as the team’s best player. What I want to see in the future is the logjam at the forward positions totally gone and whoever is added to fit right so that everybody knows their roles and is talented enough to fill them. Also, I want a full-on youth movement, meaning Jermaine O’Neal, Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola are gone so that players on the rise can get minutes.
MATT: From my prospective there were zero positives this season. It was the second-worst season in Phoenix Suns franchise history, and reward is fourth best lottery chance in one of the worst drafts in recent memory. Suns fans may be happy with Goran Dragic but fact of the matter is he played better when he was a starter in Houston than he was here last season. At this point I’m hoping for a semi-miracle to happen in June and the Suns end up drafting their cornerstone of the future.
2. Lets play the game “Keep, trade or waive!” (Centers)
ERIC: I like Haddadi and I want him to stick around as the back-up. He cracks me up and makes the game more fun when he plays, and if he works out in the gym during the off-season he could pan out.
I think that Jermaine O’Neal deserves to be a back-up center on a championship team next season with a chance at getting a ring before he retires soon. Oklahoma City would be a perfect fit and I think I heard rumors that he could have been headed there before the season and the trade deadline.
I think the Suns should trade Gortat, for whoever will trade them as much as possible in return. Another possibility is that he would play for Phoenix and play well enough to raise some eyebrows of other GMs to get a better deal for the Suns, since he is coming off of an injury.
MATT: I’d let Haddadi walk. His play was fine, but let’s not pretend like he’s the second coming of Bill Russell. The Suns have an option on Haddadi which would pay him $1.4 million dollars in 2013-2014, but I doubt the Suns will be picking up that option.
I would love for the Suns to keep O’Neal, however he’s probably going to walk. O’Neal is an aging veteran who can still be a solid back-up on a championship team which is what I think he will pursue. If he’s not going to go that route, he’s probably going to retire which was an idea he flirted with briefly last off-season.
Marcin Gortat: TRADE HIM! TRADE HIM! TRADE HIM! The Suns MUST trade Gortat this off-season for two main reasons. First being that he’s not their center of the future and second is that he’s entering the final year of his contract and he’s probably going to end up leaving after next season anyway IF he isn’t traded. There’s a market for Gortat because he’s a quality center who can help a defense and is an effective rebounder.
3. First round-matchups (Denver/Golden State and Chicago/Brooklyn)
ERIC: I predict the Nuggets in seven games because the combination of the Warriors losing David Lee and Denver getting Kenneth Faried (the Manimal) back will be a determining factor. It would probably be over in six games if the Nuggets had Danilo Gallinari, who has been sidelined with injury. The Warriors have been shooting lights out in the first two games and that is going to average out. I love watching the Warriors, especially Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but ultimately I think Denver will come out victorious in the series.
I think that Chicago is too well coached to lose to Brooklyn in this series, even without former MVP Derrick Rose and with Joakim Noah’s plantar fasciitis hobbling him on the court as he plays through it. Their defense is too good and they already stole a game from the Nets at the Barclay’s Center.
MATT: I think the Denver Nuggets will be going home early this season as the victims of the only first round upset in the west. The Warriors may have lost David Lee but their starting line-up with Harrison Barnes at the four spot matches up extremely well against the Nuggets starting five. The Warriors already managed to steal a win Denver handing the Nuggets their first loss at home in over three months; if you’re a Warriors fan you should LOVE how this series is going thus far.
One upset that I think will take place in the east is the Chicago Bulls coming back after getting blown out by the Brooklyn Nets in game one. With the series tied 1-1 heading back to Chicago, one has to like the Bulls’ chances.
4. NBA awards – Marc Gasol [MEM] (defensive player of the year) and J.R. Smith [NY] (6th man of the year)
ERIC: I think that Marc Gasol deserved the defensive player of the year award, although I did wish that Milwaukee’s center Larry Sanders would have gotten more consideration. Sanders was second only to Serge Ibaka in blocked shots and has great defensive rotations. Gasol maybe shouldn’t have gotten it but he does really anchor that Memphis defense and makes opposing players afraid to take the rock to the hole.
I really wanted to Jamal Crawford to win sixth man of the year. I thought he was more efficient than Smith throughout the year. Smith only averaged about two points more per game in four more minutes than Crawford. Smith was the focal point of the offense, while Smith was not. Smith had two more shot attempts per game and was chucking the ball up every chance he could.
MATT: I think Marc Gasol is OVER, RATED! Let’s face it, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, on both ends of the floor; That guy who wears number 35 in Oklahoma City is pretty good too though. Gasol is surrounded by terrific defenders like Tony Allen, and Tayshaun Prince whom of which I think don’t get enough credit for the job they’ve done defensively. Not the biggest fan of King James but he was robbed of the DPOY award.
J.R Smith deserved the sixth man of the year award. Smith may not be the most efficient offensively player but he’s been huge for the Knickerbockers this season, and he’s hit so many big shots. Shout outs to Jamal Crawford for being the runner up though. No team relies more on the shot making abilities of their gunner off the bench more so than the Clippers and Knicks.