2011-12 Preview: Pacific Division

Phoenix Suns (2010 record: 40-42)

It’s almost fitting that the Suns play in the arid desert of Arizona. The roster is dried up and lacking quality players. In an unfortunate turn of events, their best young player, Aaron Brooks, signed a contract with a Chinese team one day before the lockout ended. He will not be allowed to return to the NBA until he finishes out the season in China. To nobody’s surprise, the Suns used the amnesty clause to waive the under-performing and overpaid Vince Carter. They managed to nab the high flying Shannon Brown to provide backcourt depth. And they re-signed Grant Hill to the tune of $6.5 million in order to keep Steve Nash happy and sane.

Key Players: Without question, the most important player on this team is Steve Nash. Sans Nash this team is better suited for the D-League than the NBA. Gortat will play an increased role in the success of this team. His defense is solid, but can he get it going offensively? Frye’s development as a player is also key. His versatility as a big man who can shoot the trey makes him a valuable asset; but he’ll need to do more than just shoot treys in order for the Suns to improve. Frye needs to develop his inside game (dismal 43% FG percentage) and rebounding.

Season Outlook: Things aren’t looking good in Phoenix. Where will they get their scoring from? Nash is in his 15th season and he won’t be able to carry this team like he has in the past. With Aaron Brooks in China until March, scoring in the backcourt looks to be a problem for the Suns. Outside of Nash, Dudley and Frye will be expected to carry most of the scoring load which doesn’t look like a recipe for success. Barring a significant makeover to their roster, I expect the Suns to finish last in the Pacific division.

Next Page: Three Young Kings

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