Better Know: Phoenix Suns

Goran Dragic

Today’s bonus installment of Better Know An Opponent focuses on the Phoenix Suns. Let’s take a look.

Projected Starting 5

Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns

Goran Dragic (Stats)

Eric Bledsoe Phoenix Suns

Eric Bledsoe (Stats)

Marcin Gortat Phoenix Suns

Marcin Gortat (Stats)

Markieff Morris Phoenix Suns

Markieff Morris (Stats)

Gerald Green Phoenix Suns

Gerald Green (Stats)

Key bench players: Alex Len, P.J. Tucker, Archie Goodwin

2012-13 Phoenix Suns By The Numbers:

Phoenix Suns LogoW-L: 25-57
Playoffs: DNP
Offense: 98.2 points per 100 possessions (29th)
Defense: 105.7 points allowed per 100 possessions (24th)
Net: -7.5 points per 100 possessions (28th)
Pace: 95.95 possessions per game (9th)

Games vs. the Brooklyn Nets:
November 15th — Brooklyn Nets @ Phoenix Suns
March 17th — Phoenix Suns @ Brooklyn Nets (StubHub)

Key Additions: Ryan McDonough (GM), Jeff Hornacek (head coach), Alex Len (draft), Archie Goodwin (draft), Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, Malcolm Lee, Ish Smith

Key Subtractions: Lance Blanks (GM), Alvin Gentry (head coach), Jermaine O’Neal, Wesley Johnson, Luis Scola, Jared Dudley, Hamed Haddadi

Strengths: Simply put, the Suns’ biggest strength is being bad enough to put themselves in a great position for a Top-3 pick in this year’s stacked draft. No, seriously, the Suns are that bad. Other than Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix fans don’t have much to look forward to other than counting their ping pong balls.

Oh: after a strong summer league, Archie Goodwin looks poised to join the rotation earlier than expected. For some reason, they’ve reunited the Morris twins. Alex Len, despite two surgeries, should be a fun player to watch develop in a season without pressure. A return to up-tempo basketball under Hornacek should excite fans as well.

And their retro black uniforms. Enough said.

(Also, they cut Michael Beasley.) -Benny Nadeau

Weaknesses: Weaknesses: While fun, the team’s lack of experience will lead to some incredibly sloppy basketball. Their only shooter is Channing Frye, and fans are actually excited about PJ Tucker. Lost in their whole mess of a rebuild is Marcin Gortat’s future, since now he doesn’t fit Phoenix’s plans at all.

Most of Phoenix’s players are solid backups. Forcing players like Tucker and Frye to play 30 minutes per game will be a disaster, and a heavy dose of the Morris twins in the lineup will have Suns fans pulling their hair out before Thanksgiving.

And their alternate jerseys now have sleeves. Enough said. -Benny Nadeau

Why You Should Watch: Because Eric Bledsoe has his first starting opportunity in Phoenix after the lightning-fast, multitalented guard averaged just 19.6 minutes per game in his first three seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. He’ll be fun. Alex Len could develop into a solid pick-and-roll threat. Lopez could teach Alex Len a few things. Because an early November 15th game at Phoenix could surprise Brooklyn, with both teams implementing new systems with brand new head coaches and major lineup changes.

Asking The Other Side: Phoenix Suns blogger Michael Schwartz of ESPN TrueHoop’s Phoenix Suns blog Valley of the Suns.

Most important move: Without question it was acquiring Eric Bledsoe along with Caron Butler for Jared Dudley and a second-round pick. The last few years the Suns have been a franchise heading for a major rebuild with a serious dearth of impact young talent. Although he’s unproven, Bledsoe is one of the league’s more talented young prospects with star potential. The Suns paid a relatively low price in terms of players and picks by allowing the capped-out Clippers to also acquire J.J. Redick in the same deal by taking on Butler. That’s the kind of smart asset management the Suns will need to continue to employ throughout this rebuild.

Expectations? The Suns won 25 games last year in the first year of their rebuilding project. I expect them to be better, yet potentially lose more games due to the overall quality of the Western Conference. I’ll peg them for 23 victories. It’s going to be a long year yet with young talent like Bledsoe, Len, and Goodwin, perhaps it could be a year that’s building toward something, rather than the stuck-in-the-mud kind of seasons in the past few years.

What’s the team system? It’s hard to say exactly with a new coach in Jeff Hornacek and a new system, but the Suns plan on playing the kind of up-tempo basketball that has characterized the franchise throughout most of its history. With the additions of Bledsoe and Goodwin, the Suns have certainly added the kind of athletes to constantly push the pace. We will have to wait and see to determine the kind of offense Hornacek plans on running in the half-court.

Matching up with Brooklyn: Not well. Aside from the obvious overall talent advantages, the Suns will really struggle to match up against Joe Johnson since he will be defended by either Dragic or Bledsoe. This will be a nightly issue for Phoenix, but one that Johnson is particularly equipped to take advantage of.

The Phoenix Suns in under 100 words:

A fast, exciting, rebuilding team. The Suns will not win many games, but with the addition of the aforementioned young talent they should be the most fun terrible team in the league. They are going to push the pace and throw down their share of highlights all the while building toward an epic draft in which the Suns could hold three first-round picks to acquire the kind of impact talent the franchise needs to return to contention.