Nothing Special, Really

Friday, December 12, 2008

Suns Talk

I haven't seen a single Suns game this year. I don't have cable or enough money to camp out at the bar across the way when the game is on. So I haven't been able to witness the Suns struggles firsthand or second hand. All I know about this season in in the numbers: stats, standings & scores.

Suffice to say, this season isn't what Suns fans are used to. No 130 point games, no fast breaks at every opportunity, no Seven Seconds Or Less offense. Personally, I've been fine with that. As fun and enjoyable as those teams were to watch, I don't know if they were ever championship quality teams. Move past Robert Horry's body check, past Joe Johnson's broken face, past Amare's knee and Raja's ankle, beyond the "only ifs" and the "woulda, coulda, shouldas". We were certainly close, but during those years, I don't know if we ever get past San Antonio. And last year, with Shaq or Marion, I don't think we get past LA or Boston.

We've certainly made some changes, the biggest being Marion for Shaq. I support the idea of the trade more than the results. Our low-post defense was getting killed in the playoffs, so we shipped off Marion who, as much as I miss him sometimes, is nothing more than the ultimate role player just past his prime, but with the attitude of a superstar. I don't know if I completely blame him; we were certainly paying him superstar money. But we had to make a trade, and he was our most tradeable asset (Nash and Amare were staying, and no one was taking Barbosa or Diaw last year). We get the low post defender in Shaq, who has been better than expected this year, but we get an even bigger ego. I'm not yet sure what's worse: an unhappy Marion or a dominant ego in Shaq. We got more than a center, we got a center of attention, and that's surely been a distraction.

As for D'Antoni for Porter, there's probably so much behind closed doors stuff going on there, it's pointless commenting. I do like Terry Porter as a coach, and I certainly don't envy his job: trying to turn a ballclub suited for D'Antoni's style into a more defensive minded club yet maintain expectations for a championship. I don't know that our problems this year have been all his fault; I support the move towards becoming a bit more defensive oriented but I don't know that we had the right lineup to support the change offensively.

And it's for that reason I absolutely LOVE the trade for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley.

First, J-Rich is a huge upgrade over Bell. Much has been made about losing Bell's defense. He's still a top notch defender but he's not the lockdown defender he once was. More importantly, he was one dimensional offensively. He was great in D'Antoni's spread the floor and bomb away offense, but when we're not spreading the floor, we need someone outside who can drive to the basket as well as launch threes. J-Rich can do that.

As for Diaw, he's certainly a talented ball player, but I don't know if there's an offense in the NBA that caters to his style. He's great at distributing the ball, but most teams aren't looking for a 6-10 passing forward. Plus, his lack of aggression offensively was downright infuriating. He was awesome in 2006 when Amare was out, and we thought he was just scratching the surface as a player. Instead, it looks like he overachieved, and the past two seasons are more in line with what should be expected of him. And if that's the case, we just got a very similar player in Dudley: a smart role player who can hit the outside jumper and play post defense in a pinch. And he's MUCH cheaper.

I don't know if this trade is enough to get us past LA and Boston again, but for the first time this season, I'm excited about watching the Suns, enough that I may start rummaging through the couch for beer money. They're certainly not the Suns we've known the past couple of years, but at the same time, they're no longer the Suns we've come to know this year either.


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