Can you believe that the regular season is only seven days away? That’s right, only seven days away from the League’s 61st year. Before that jumps off, some of the best hoop writers from around the web would like to say a thing or two about their respective teams, and we’re more than happy to give them the floor.
Today, Brian Lucas from The Rising Suns helps us preview his team, the Phoenix Suns.
SLAM: How scared should the rest of the League be if Amare is healthy this year?
BL: They should be very afraid. This is a man who put up 37ppg and 9rpg against a top defensive team in the playoffs a couple of years ago and caps his effort by blocking a dunk by one of the greatest PF’s who ever lived (Duncan). I believe he will come back to full form sometime this season. He has to get past the mental hesitance he has been facing and I think that once he gets going in the regular season his competitive edge will lift him through the mental barrier. He really hasn’t had to deal with a serious injury like this before, so it really is uncharted waters for him and he will have to learn over time that he can trust his body and work through any discomfort. I think the competitive nature of the season will really push him to regain his form. Up to this point he has really had no serious competition that would help him experience what it takes to get through such an injury. If anyone has seen Amare play, they know that competition consumes him and he plays determined and fearless and it is hard to gauge how he will come back because he hasn’t had that motivation. It SHOULD take him some time to get back into shape. For such a young player to suffer through a potentially devastating injury, it is very difficult, physically and mentally. He will have to grow as a person and player to get back to the upper echelon of NBA dominance.
The Suns did some pretty amazing things last year without the aforementioned Amare. Should he to succumb to injuries once again, will they be able to repeat those feats?
I definitely think they would be fine without Amare, should he hit rough times. Last season with Kurt Thomas, they were on pace to win 60 games and were a top defensive club. This season they will have a healthy Kurt Thomas and the same lineup as last season but with a much deeper and defensive minded bench. Also, Boris Diaw has really taken his game to a new level, especially in the playoffs. This is a guy with tremendous basketball IQ and athleticism; his upside seems boundless. He racked up multiple triple doubles this past season, picked it up a notch through the playoffs, and then shredded Dallas for 25ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3apg, and 1.5bpg. They have no answer for him. He is such a unique player who does everything he needs to win. We are just beginning to see his incredible potential. This past season we’ve also seen Leandro Barbosa bring his game to another level; becoming a threat for 25ppg through breakneck speed, athleticism, and shooting. Now these young players are a year older and playoff seasoned.
In addition we got a solid backup point guard in Marcus Banks to help keep Nash healthy, and from what I’ve heard, he is impressing everyone. We also got more shooters because you really can never have enough. We have a very solid and deep team, moreso than last season, and barring any major injuries we should have no problems repeating, or surpassing, what was achieved last season.
Steve Nash has won two straight MVP awards. Can we expect him to keep playing at such a high level at his advanced age?
I don’t see why not. Steve is more in tune with his body than ever and he is reportedly in the best shape of his life. The guy is a work horse and one of the most intelligent players in the game. He is also very fundamentally sound, which will allow him to continue to play at an older age once his body starts slowing down. I would say he has two more years of high-octane MVP level play before he starts slowing. The past two years he really hasn’t missed very many games even at his “advanced age.” Besides, he’s the freaking two-time MVP, of course he’s going to represent!
How distracting must it be to play in Phoenix will all of those beautiful women in the stands? Who’s got it tougher, the Suns or the Heat?
You know, it must be distracting for any player on any team but Phoenix definitely stands out a little. From the MILFS of Ahwatukee and Scottsdale, to the College cuties in Tempe, and not to mention the vast Hispanic presence throughout the city, there are more than enough fly women to go around. Distracting? Very. But I’m sure the players are used to it. In the end I think I’d give the edge to Miami. That place is where beautiful people go to marinate and breed.
Alright, enough foreplay, how will the Suns fare this season?
The Suns have a legitimate chance to win a championship. Amare or not this is the deepest and most athletic team they have had since the Sir Charles-led ’93 squad. Last season we went to the conference finals without a big man. This year we have our big men back, one of which is a superstar, and the other a defensive monster. In addition, all our core players have gained significant playoff experience and should be ready to get over the hump. Everyone thrives in Mike D’Antoni’s system and they genuinely like playing with each other. I’ve never seen a team with better chemistry. Everyone in Phoenix is ready and the feeling is that this is our year. We will be poised to be a contender for many, many years to come, however, we want it now and we can taste it.