Everybody knew that changes were needed to the Phoenix Suns. Steve Nash and Grant Hill were just preventing the Suns from doing some much needed changes. With the two of them now taking their talents to Los Angeles, the Phoenix Suns offer up a bunch of new faces to the organization. From guys who are proven veterans who have faced tough times to young guys who have underachieved in their careers, this group has a whole lot of question marks. While it remains to be seen if this new look Suns team will achieve any success, the upcoming season promises to be interesting. Here is a look at your new look Phoenix Suns.
With the departure of Steve Nash, the point guard position will probably be the position where the spotlight will shine its brightest this year. Goran Dragic is going to be the starter, barring any injuries, but which Dragic are we going to get?
Are we going to get the unconfident back-up, or are we going to see the confident starter who averaged 17 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, and 3.4 rebounds per game over the last two months of the season last season. With that question unanswered, the point guard spot for the Suns remains the position with the biggest question mark.
As their backup plan, the Suns drafted a very talented point guard for the future in Kendall Marshall. Give the rookie point guard from North Carolina some time to work on his shooting, and he will be a good point guard in the future. And don't overlook Sebastian Telfair. He is a become a good defender with killer ball-handling skills. He isn't a superstar, but he is a very capable back-up to Dragic and Marshall.
The starting job at the shooting guard position is really between two people; Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley. I'll give my vote to Jared Dudley, unfortunately my vote doesn't count. The reason I would take Dudley over Brown is because Dudley is a better defender, 3-point shooter, and hustler than Brown. Brown is a very athletic guard, reminds me of an inconsistent, poor-man's Kobe Bryant. Brown showed last season that he is explosive offensively, especially when starting, but the starting job should go to Dudley to start the season.
When I mentioned young guys who have underachieved in their career, Michael Beasley was on my mind. By no means will anyone argue that Beasley has the talent to be a great player, but his work ethic and character have always been in question. Hopefully for Suns fans the Michael Beasley that earned the No. 2 selection in the 2008 NBA Draft will show up and not the one who was inconsistent for the most part in his short four-year career.
Backing Beasley up is going to be Wesley Johnson, another high draft pick who hasn't lived up to his potential. Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, was a First Team AP All-American and Big East Player of the Year in his senior season ay Syracuse, but has been far from spectacular so far in his short career. Did the Minnesota Timberwolves give up on Johnson too soon? Probably. Usually I like to give guys more than two years before I start to consider them a bust. Regardless, I think a fresh start with a new team will do Johnson good. If he can find his way, Johnson would be a solid piece to the future of a rebuilding Suns team.
The four spot is a position that the Suns have a lot of strength at. Luis Scola will probably be the starter to begin the season. Scola has been fairly consistent in his five years in the NBA averaging 14.5 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game.
He is a guy who will help to take some of the rebounding load off of Marcin Gortat in the post. The guy backing up Scola isn't to shabby either. Markieff Morris is coming off of a rookie year with some ups and downs. Last season, Morris showed that he has a high ceiling. Barring any sort of injury problems, I think Morris could be the future power forward for the Suns for years to come. Morris showed he could be dangerous, as most are, being a 6'10'' guy who can step out and nail a couple of three-pointer's a game for you. With that ability, he would free up the paint and make the defender pay attention to him on the perimeter.
With the sad news that Channing Frye is going to be out for a while due to an enlarged heart, a lot of minutes are going to be available to Morris to show how good he is. When Channing Frye gets back, he only provides more depth for the Suns at the power forward spot. He has the ability to knock down the three-point shot as well, but a lot of fans would like to see him use his hieght to do more damage in the paint. With that being said, you can never have enough bigs who can make shots from the outside.
The starting job at the center position is Marcin Gortat's to lose, but veteran Jermaine O'Neal should be a good backup. O'Neal is coming into Phoenix looking for a fresh start since injuries and age have knocked him . News out of training camp is that O'Neal looks fresh.
When healthy, O'neal was one of the better center's in the NBA when he was with the Pacer's. With the world famous Suns training staff that revived the careers of guys like Grant Hill, Shaquille O'Neal, Amare Stoudemire after microfracture surgery, and so on, Jermaine O'neal is going to be in good hands. Any shadow of his former self, and the Suns will have a very good backup behind Gortat.
Again, this Suns team is full of question marks. You look at the roster and see guys who are capable of being good, but you can't bank on them. It is because of this capability to be good that I can't find it in myself to pick against them.
Prediction: 41-41, a first-round exit to the No. 1 seed Oklahoma City Thunder in 4 or 5 games.