1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
Lucas: The Suns had quite an eventful summer in terms of upgrading the roster. First off, The Suns traded their draft picks to the Celtics in order to wash themselves of Brian Grant’s large contract and to save money for free agent signings. At this point Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want any project rookies on the roster and would rather get solid rotation role players with lig experience and loads of talent. They were saving money and cap space to re-sign Tim Thomas in the offseason but I don’t think they were very content on having Thomas on the roster since they went through the motions, for the fans, and went at Tim with a low offer. The Clippers offered Tim a better deal and off he went. The Suns then courted John Salmons as a backup combo guard to be used as they did Joe Johnson, to handle the ball for short periods while Steve rested. Brian Colangelo soon moved on in, with more cap space, for the same reason, and eventually got burned by Salmons as well. I feel that they were really reaching at this point for such a unique role.
They eventually found Marcus Banks, who is a great talent and solid defender and signed him to be Steve Nash’s backup. Banks really fits in for this team. We lacked a defensive threat at the point guard position and Banks is a major upgrade for this reason. He is also lightening quick for our break-game and, with his solid frame, he can drive the lane and put up shots, make contact, and draw fouls, something we needed sorely last season. We also grabbed Jumaine Jones as another swing who is an athletic shooter who plays defense and multiple positions. He can backup the four or three and will most likely have to fight for minutes with James Jones. We also have the Polish sniper, Eric Piatkowski, who will bring a good attitude and spot up shooting for maybe a few minutes per game.
SunsGossip: As Lucas described, the Suns had more moves than a bowl of jello this offseason. We at SunsGossip feel that LaMarcus (aka Marcus Banks) was the hottest addition – that brother is so fine we’d marry his sister just to get in his family! Of course we also have to give love to the two new white boys, Eric Piatkowski (who seems like a genuinely nice guy) and Sean Marks (who’s got that cute New Zealand accent). Jumaine Jones promises to add entertainment value – if for nothing else than our anticipation of Bill Walton sputtering over the fact there are two J. Jones’s on the team (see: James Jones)… It is also worth mentioning that both Raja Bell and Eric P. were busting their own moves this offseason – the wives of both are currently pregnant. Finally, shout out to Brittany and Whitney, two new additions to the Suns Dance Team who are holding it down for the brown girls in Phoenix. Heyyyy!
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Lucas: The greatest strengths of this team are speed, shooting, and ball movement. Last season we had the top fg%, ft% and top three point shooting. We were also the top average assist team. In addition the Suns are a nightmare for opposing coaches due to all of the match up problems the unorthodox style creates. They are also the best conditioned team and can easily wear out opposing teams who are not used to such a high pace of play. The quick pace is very contagious and many teams can’t help but get sucked into running and by the end of the game they are outmatched. Large dominating centers absolutely cannot play at this pace and are rendered obsolete against our intense attack. Quick ball movement and floor spacing from shooters continually break down defenses from the slash and kick or drive and pass game. If this isn’t working we have the best point guard in the world who is a master at the pick and roll and many athletes who want to get rewarded for their movement.
SunsGossip: Brother Lucas… how can you talk about the Suns’ strengths without mentioning Boris Diaw’s upper body strength? Have you seen this fool lately? Homeboy was working it over the summer! He looks like he’s gained a cool 15 pounds, and that’s all muscle weight, not just the $45 million in his pockets.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
SunsGossip: What? The Suns have no weaknesses. This question is like a broken pencil – there ain’t no point. Lucas?
Lucas: The biggest weakness for this team has to do with their size, SG. They are generally smaller than their competition and this is due to Coach Mike’s preference on having the best athlete on the floor at all times. He would rather have a smaller, more talented player on the floor than a lumbering oaf with height. This also means that we are outmatched in size and give up more rebounds. Yet, our forwards are quicker, faster on the break and pose matchup problems for opposing teams whose big forwards and centers cannot stay with their man in the open floor. For this the system gives up second chances on the defensive end for offensive superiority and the plan is just to get more points and wear out the opponents.
4. How will the young guys develop?
Lucas: This team has many young players but not so young that they are a liability. Amare Stoudemire, Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa and Marcus Banks are all moderately young players who have played enough to have plenty of experience. Most of this Suns team is well post-seasoned, including the young coach (league-wise). They are all perfect fits in this uptempo unselfish system and they should thrive this upcoming season.
SunsGossip: We can only hope that they all age as gracefully as our 30-year-old Raja Bell. Or that once they reach age 32 they start Peter Panning back to adolescence like Steve Nash.
Lucas: That’s right SG, let’s hope he continues to sink his Hook (shot?).
5. What are the goals for this team?
Lucas: After two seasons making the Western Conference Finals the goals for this season include a trip to the Finals and hopefully a title. D’Antoni is adamant on improving on team defense enough to get us that extra edge to push our team over the top. We have all the talent and a deep bench to get us through the long marathon of a regular season and the playoffs. Depending on the condition of Amare Stoudemire and the health of the team we should have enough for a title.
SunsGossip: Eyes on the prize!
6. Predicted record?
SunsGossip: Good grief, Charlie Brown, we don’t know! How do people come up with these? We’ll put our money on something close to 82-0 and let you slice and dice it further, Lucas.
Lucas: Well SG, an 82-0 season has yet to be accomplished but I feel you. I mean we send rugged Pat Burke, the Kiwi Assassin (Sean Marks) and the Polish Sniper (Piatkowski) out there and they can give those hard fouls and take out kneecaps. This group alone can win you a good ten games but that sort of play is frowned upon by the lig. That takes us down ten games to 72 wins but with Amare working on getting back to optimal shape by the playoffs, he’ll have some struggles to work out. We will probably have some other minor injuries. Combined with Amare, these things will be another six games. I’d say we lose another six to brain lapses and complacency issues. The Suns should win 60 games this season.