NBA Preview: Suns can also rise after Nash
OCT 15, 2012 8:28p ET
Actually, we all knew it would come to this someday. We knew the Suns existed before Nash. We kind of figured they might after Nash, too.
That time has arrived. And hey, it could be considerably more grim. In fact, some people might tell you the fact Nash left for the Lakers (well, was “traded” to the Lakers) won’t mess with any reasons for hope at all.
Yeah, sounds weird. But it has some merit.
Fact: Nash and Grant Hill are gone. Theory: In their place are younger guys who possess enough talent to keep the Suns afloat while they keep an eye on the future.
On that list are newcomers such as Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic and Wes Johnson, as well as veteran Luis Scola. Not bad, huh? The Suns sure seem to like it OK.
After all, as valuable as Nash had been, not many NBA franchises get real far when their face is a 38-year old point guard. So the Suns are starting fresh, attempting to remain competitive and looking to find a new fan-favorite.
Already, it appears somewhat easier than a lot of folks predicted.
Last season: 33-33, did not make playoffs.
Coach: Alvin Gentry (12th year, 322-342).
Top returnees: C Marcin Gortat, SF/SG Jared Dudley, PF Markieff Morris.
Key additions: PF Luis Scola, SF Michael Beasley, PG Goran Dragic, PG Kendall Marshall-r.
X-Factor: Beasley. Labeled a reason for distress for most of the early part of his career, Beasley stayed out of trouble last season with the Timberwolves. Now, he’s expected to become a key player -- if not the brightest ray of hope. He has the talent. He’ll get the ball. How he responds will likely help the Suns surge forward, or if things go badly, set them back.
Strengths: Scola is a rare combination of a hustle player with real-life offensive skills. In other words, he not only can get on your nerves, he can bury you. Like Scola, Dragic arrived from Houston with a reputation as an underrated pain in opponents’ sides. Dragic also proved that he’s ready to run his own team, and these days, may actually be close to the same level as Nash. As for defense, this band of Suns may actually have at least a passing interest -- and the ability to actually pull it off.
Weaknesses: As is the case whenever the roster receives an extreme makeover, the Suns will likely suffer through a getting-acquainted period. On paper, they’re on the rise. On the floor, there are still a lot of question marks: Can Beasley stay focused? Will Gortat be as valuable without Nash? Are kids such Morris and Marshall already ready to be steady? We may not be able to respond for certain until February, maybe later.
Outlook: Remember the days of Nash, Mike D’Antoni and Amar’e Stoudemire, Western Conference finals, and all those intense playoff matchups with the Spurs? They sure were fun, weren’t they? But everybody gets old, man. To the Suns’ credit, they stuck with it as long as they could, riding Nash until the very end. Suns fans can be thankful for the years he provided. They should be equally thankful for how the front office has attempted to rebuild the team. Because by the looks of things, the Suns should barely skip a dribble, rebound or jump shot.
2012-13 schedule: Link
FOX Sports: Suns home
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO
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