2012-2013 Phoenix Suns Season Preview
According to Steve Nash, the Phoenix Suns didn’t want him back. They decided it was time to move on from what was a great era with Nash into an unknown future.
Now that the Suns have made the plunge, they’ve got a solid roster filled primarily with capable young players. It’s going to take a lot for the team to make the postseason but coach Alvin Gentry will get the most out of this roster.
It may be a development year but the Suns have enough talent to compete and entertain.
HOOPSWORLD takes a look at the 2012-2013 Phoenix Suns:
Five Guys Think…
This Phoenix Suns team is going to be fun to watch. They’re a young team, but despite that they have plenty of experience. They should thrive together under Coach Gentry’s player-friendly system, which everyone seems to love playing in. For a few players, most notably Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson, this year represents the best opportunity of their careers to succeed. If they rise to the occasion, Phoenix can make a playoff push, which would be really impressive to do not even a year after trading Steve Nash. They’re fourth best in the Pacific, but they’re a viable dark horse to sneak into the West’s top eight.
4th Place – Pacific Division
– Yannis Koutroupis
The Suns aren’t getting much respect in the run-up to the 2012-13 NBA season, but rest assured, taking them lightly would be a mistake. Goran Dragic has grown tremendously as a player since his first stint in Phoenix, Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson have much to prove and are now in the perfect system to do it, and the additions of Luis Scola and Jermaine O’Neal represent radical upgrades in the frontcourt. Sure, Steve Nash and Grant Hill are gone, but the Suns are younger, deeper and as high octane as ever. They’re in a very competitive division, but don’t be surprised if they are very much in the playoff chase come April.
4th Place – Pacific Division
– Bill Ingram
Even though the Phoenix Suns lost Steve Nash, they still enter this season with a talented team. They’ve added a lot of young pieces such as Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson and Kendall Marshall as well as veteran leaders such as Luis Scola and Jermaine O’Neal. The Suns will certainly look different next season, but they have a lot of talent on paper and could exceed expectations. It’ll be difficult for Phoenix to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference, but they should play an exciting brand of basketball and be able to develop some of the promising players. In a few years, when this group reaches their prime, they may make some noise. But for now, the Suns are clearly rebuilding.
4th Place – Pacific Division
– Alex Kennedy
All things considered, the Suns did a pretty nice job moving past the Steve Nash Era by acquiring a solid crop of players that includes Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and Michael Beasley. That, however, is nowhere near a championship-caliber roster. Marcin Gortat has been all we hoped he’d be, but almost everybody else on the roster is a middle-of-the-road player at best. The Suns were bad with Nash last year, and there’s little reason to believe they won’t be even worse without him, despite all the new additions.
5th Place – Pacific Division
– Joel Brigham
It isn’t often a team loses a future Hall of Famer but enters the next season with legitimate playoff aspirations. Yet, the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns are in this position after a strong offseason retooling their roster for the post Steve Nash era. While there is promise there are also plenty of risks with the new additions. Incoming forwards Michael Beasley (maturity/niche), Wesley Johnson (trouble adjusting to NBA game) and Luis Scola (injuries) could pay immediate dividends or turn out to be busts. The team also took a chance on veteran center Jermaine O’Neal who has struggled the last few seasons due to an assortment of injuries. The Suns have the talent to compete for a playoff spot this season. Can they pull it off?
3rd Place – Pacific Division
– Lang Greene
Top Of The List
Top Offensive Player: It’s going to have to be Goran Dragic but to expect to him to be Steve Nash is setting him up for failure. The Suns don’t have a clear, dominant offensive force. As the team grows, Dragic as floor leader is going to have to find what makes this Phoenix team potent offensively.
Top Defensive Player: Center Marcin Gortat is rock-solid. Last year he led the team in scoring (15.4 points a game) but also in rebounds (10.0) and blocks (1.5). Gortat is both tremendously strong and quite willing to do the dirty work necessary as a defender. On the perimeter the team’s best defender is Jared Dudley, who isn’t daunted by tough assignments.
Top Playmaker: Replacing Steve Nash for the Suns is not an easy job but that’s the one Goran Dragic is tasked with. Originally the Suns were grooming Dragic as Nash’s successor before trading him to the Houston Rockets for Aaron Brooks. Now both sides have reunited and Dragic will get the opportunity to run a team. When Kyle Lowry went down last season in Houston (illness), Dragic stepped in and played exceptionally well. On his career, he’s averaged just 3.3 assists a game but in 2011-12 he finally got real minutes (26.5) and dished 5.3. In the 28 games he started, Dragic collected a more substantial 8.4 assists, which is closer to what the Suns are hoping to see this season.
Top Clutch Player: The answer historically has been Steve Nash. Now he’s gone and someone will need to step into that role. It may be Michael Beasley who had some moments for the Minnesota Timberwolves in end-game situations. It may be Dragic, who will be the playmaker and, at times, scorer in the clutch. Internationally, Luis Scola has been one of the go-to players for the Argentine National Team. Ultimately the Suns will need someone to succeed in this role if they’re to win close games.
Top Unheralded Player: Markieff Morris didn’t get a ton of attention last season but he came into the league as a capable rookie. Morris has an interesting combination of toughness and touch. He can play physically in the post or float outside and hit a three. Certainly he needs to improve and develop. Consistency is difficult to attain, but he has the potential to be one of the brighter, young power forwards in the league.
Best New Addition: If Dragic and perform as well as he did in a starting role for Rockets, he’ll help keep the Suns near the playoff bubble. The team may not have enough horses yet to safely secure a spot but they may not be too far behind the pack. Beasley and Scola were also solid gets. The Suns hope a change of scenery will bring out the best in Wesley Johnson, who never really emerged in Minnesota.
– Eric Pincus
Who We Like
1. Marcin Gortat: As a lottery team, the Suns didn’t get a lot of attention last year but Gortat quietly averaged a double-double while shooting 55.5 percent from the field. Phoenix has a lot of questions to answer throughout the roster but in the middle they have a very steady player in Gortat.
2. Alvin Gentry: Gentry is a patient coach. He is player’s coach, yet he still demands respect. His roster is loyal to him and he works with guys of questionable maturity well, which should be a boon for Beasley. The Suns won’t come into the season expecting to be the top team, but Gentry will keep his team fighting all season long. Even if the goal of a postseason berth isn’t attained, Gentry’s team will compete hard nightly and continue to develop as a unit.
3. Goran Dragic: Dragic has a game that sneaks upon opponents. He isn’t the quickest or most athletic point guard in the league, but he’s both a capable scorer and playmaker. He has a lot to live up to now that he has a four-year, $30 million contract, but it’s also a great opportunity to show that he is indeed an impact starter at the point in the NBA.
4. Markieff Morris: While the Suns can play Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Channing Frye at the four, Morris may be the long-term answer at that position. He came into the league ready to play and will continue to improve. His shooting percentages weren’t as high as they should have been last years but look for an increase in efficiency this coming season.
5. Solid Players Across the Board: The Suns may not have a clear All-Star, but the roster boasts a lot of solid players with real potential including Shannon Brown, Scola, Beasley, Johnson, Dudley, Morris, Frye, Dragic and Gortat. The Suns will have a strong locker room, positive coaching and if they can foster chemistry and catch a few lucky breaks, a shot at a low seed in the West.
– Eric Pincus
The Suns have good size with Gortat, Frye, Scola, Morris and Beasley. Gortat and Scola are older-school power players. Frye is a true stretch four, although he may not be ready for the season opener since he is recovering from a shoulder injury. Morris is somewhere in between with both some strength and range. Beasley can spread the floor as well and put the ball on the ground. Alvin Gentry has a lot to work with up front. The team has youth and with it, upside. The key is developing and while the Suns may not win every night, they have a group of talented, competitive players.
– Eric Pincus
The Suns don’t have a lot of playmaking throughout the roster. Is Goran Dragic capable of playing 30 minutes a night? Behind him is veteran reserve Sebastian Telfair and rookie Kendall Marshall (who has to prove he’s ready for the NBA). The rest of the roster is built around scorers, outside shooters and/or post players. Phoenix may be overly reliant on Dragic and their point guards, which made sense when the floor general was Steve Nash. The learning curve for this squad is not going to be a straight line up.
– Eric Pincus
What Needs To Be Said On Opening Day….
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. I hope that is true, because we certainly have a leadership vacuum on our hands here. I’m curious which of you will step up into a role to fill it. There is no doubt we’ll miss Steve’s presence on the court and off, but our focus has to be on the guys in this locker room and what they can provide this team. Marcin, your experience will be useful as we go through this transition, we will need you to be a rock and a steady producer throughout. Michael, you are new here, and I recognize that. I know the reputation you bring, and I acknowledge it. But I want to put it aside and focus on how you can help us win games. Each of us has a job to do – and if we do that job, the vacuum will fill in naturally. Don’t go out of your way to be something you’re not, and we will start to build a foundation to stand the test of time.
– Anthony Macri and Brett Koremenos
The Burning Question
Whose team is this?
The Suns built their identity around Steve Nash. Now he’s gone and while Dragic is a capable replacement, is he someone who can make a major impact on the game night in and night out?
Is Dragic the star? Gortat? Can Brown, Beasley, Johnson, Dudley or Morris step into that role?
As built the Suns have a lot of good and interesting pieces. They have a solid coach who might be able to get the best out of this group.
It’s just not clear who will be the face of the franchise, not just in marketing, but in impact on the floor.
– Eric Pincus