PACE #8 96.5
OFFENSE: #9 107.0
DEFENSE: #25 107.4
Steve Nash is a special player, but even him can’t produce miracles every single season and for the first time in the “Nash era” in Phoenix, the Suns had a losing regular season record.
The Suns under Nash were known for being not just a top offensive team, but the most efficient offensive team in the league! In fact, if we count his last seasons with a Dallas uniform, Nash’s teams were always ranked #1 in offensive efficiency! But last season, the Suns were only the 9th best offense in the league and that’s why they couldn’t make up their usual defensive liabilities because their offense wasn’t the best in the league as they were used to be.
However, before they made a mega trade with Orlando, the Suns were ranked #2 in offense, so having Vince Carter instead of Jason Richardson was the big difference because after the trade, the Suns were just #13 in offensive efficiency.
With Gortat, Carter and Pietrus, the Suns tried to fix their defense and indeed they managed to improve as the Suns were #21 in defensive efficiency, but the offensive drop off was just too big for them. The Suns pounded the “lowly teams” of the league with a 27-7 record vs. below 0.500 teams, but against the “big boys” they were bullied: 17-31 record!
Marcin Gortat proved how easy it is to play along Steve Nash and he was a nice pickup from Orlando. He started only in 14 games but as a starter he averaged 13.9 ppg, while shooting 55.9% from the field and grabbed 10.8 boards per game! He helped the team in the late improvement from the defense, but still the Suns were an awful rebounding team – 3rd worst in the league behind Sacramento and Washington. Channing Frye was the starting Power Forward of the Suns last season and he was a dangerous threat from the perimeter. The problem is that he plays at the PF position and playing so far from the basket could hurt your ability to grab offensive boards, but curiously the suns were a great offensive rebounding team (#3 OR/rate with 23.67% rate). Nevertheless, he attempted just 0.9 FGA at the rim vs 5.7 treys per game!
In order to add some toughness in their frontcourt, the Suns drafted Markieff Morris from Kansas and he could be the X factor for the Suns to not be on the bottom 5 in defense with his physical style and aggressiveness near the basket. But still the Suns don’t have much more quality on the frontcourt as Lopez and Warrick are just average players.
In a shortened season without many days to rest, the fact that their best two players are 37 and 39 years old can become a huge problem. But honestly I really don’t know if Nash and Hill will struggle this season because they are so careful with their physical condition that it doesn’t look like that they are really so old. Hill loved the Suns trainers so much that this was the biggest reason of why he re-signed with them!
The biggest offseason acquisition from the Suns was the signing of Shannon Brown. He was a serviceable backup player in LA and he has now the opportunity to increase his minutes. Steve Nash will test his athleticism, so get ready to see some great alley hoop dunks from him. They also have Dudley, Pietrus, Telfair and Brooks (if he can leave China), but all of these players despite adding depth to the perimeter they aren’t players who could start in a contending team.
Phoenix could make a run for one of the last spots in the playoffs because Nash can make their teammates look better than they really are, but we are talking about a team with limited talent right now. Steve Nash’s era in Phoenix is coming to an end but unfortunately it doesn’t looking to be a happy ending.