The Arizona Suns has a very interesting future ahead of them. They have enough talent to compete for a championship each of the next three years. The only question now is how long will it take for them to accomplish this goal? The biggest question is if there will be any at all. After all the Suns lost six in a row to the Los Angeles Lakers and five more in a row to the Orlando Magic. With the recent signings of Andre Iguodala and the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe from the New York Nets the potential for contention is still there.
So, how will the Phoenix Suns end up this season-high or season-low? If the season ending stretch is any indicator, it appears that the Suns will be treading water come the off-season. That’s because they haven’t been any better than mediocre during that six game losing streak. Iguodala and Bledsoe will help provide some shooting, defense and rebounding, but won’t do anything to propel the Suns into contender status.
It appears as though the Suns will once again be in the lottery, and that may be their undoing. The front-runner for the top draft selection in the NBA draft is probably Kentucky’s Julius Randle. If the frontcourt doesn’t improve, then Arizona will once again be looking for another star to put around. The Suns have several young big men such as Marquese Coleman, Michael Redd and rookies T.J. Ford and Chris Bowe.
However, despite their youth, the Phoenix Suns still needs a handful of players to develop the chemistry which is necessary to compete with the better teams in the league. There are three areas that the Suns need to focus on if they want a chance at winning the Southeast division. First, there has to be balance between the current starters such as Bledsoe, Redd and rookie point guard Marquese Coleman. The youngsters need to learn how to play with a much more seasoned veterans such as Goran Dragic, James Johnson and the recently acquired Lebron James.
Second, the Suns need to develop an inside-out style of playing, where players such as Dragic, Bledsoe and forward/centers Ming that can both stretch the court and set screens will play significant minutes. That will allow Channing Frye, the only player in franchise history to average double figures in each of his seasons, to get ample opportunities to score in the paint. Last, the Suns must find a way to get better scoring in the middle, where they do most of their damage from the perimeter. Arizona rarely creates shots off the dribble, and when they do, it usually ends up as a turnover.
These areas seem to be the weak spots for the Suns, which is why they went into this year with high hopes. Unfortunately, while having a nice young nucleus, they are without any real “big” scorers other than Bledsoe and possibly Redd. That leaves them with two decent big men, and no real shooter. This is exactly what the team has been searching for over the last couple of years. They were hoping for a breakout year from Dragic, who is coming off one of the best seasons in his career, but he’s never been able to put together a long stretch of stellar play.
It appears as though the biggest problem the Suns have is whether or not they can create enough open shots to consistently reach the offensive rebounding percentage they are seeking. Phoenix ranks near the bottom in points per possession in the league at 16.2%, well below the league’s average. They’re also just as turnover prone as every other team in the league, so perhaps they need a few more shooters to get the ball moving. Even with Bledsoe and Channing hitting their shots, it will be very difficult for them to go on a consistent scoring binge without a steady source of secondary assists.
The Suns will likely continue to lose games if Bledsoe continues to take his shooting for granted. He needs help on the defensive end, if he’s going to ever become a premier player in the NBA. The Suns won’t make the playoffs this season, and if they do they’ll likely be out of the second round once again. They have cap space available, however, and that could work in their favor when it comes time to decide whether or not to pursue a top-tier free agent such as Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis. If they use that cap space to sign someone like Jason Terry or someone on the wing, they’ll dramatically improve their chances of contending for another championship in the near future.