Posts Tagged ‘Raja Bell’

Where for art thou Phoenix?

November 10, 2008

Actually, it’s a super interesting process …

Whither the Suns: An Update

gradually becoming more and more active on-line, in a variety of different places.

Making the correct decisions in the Valley of the Sun

October 24, 2008

What a difference a year makes … when you add a new head coach to a veteran team.

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Suns starting Barnes at small forward
“Grant brings a lot to that second unit with a lot of stability as a veteran with possibly two rookies on that second unit,” Porter said. “He can relieve some of the pressure that Goran (Dragic) may get at times and I like Grant to have the ball in his hands. That’s one of his strong points – to make decisions and make plays.”

With the goal to limit Hill to about 25 minutes per game, Hill would have sat for long stints if he started. Instead, he must adjust to a bench role after doing it only eight times in a 705-game career.

“I don’t mind it at all,” Hill said. “One of the things we talked about at training camp was our depth can be a weapon for us. You look at the Lakers and their second unit did wonders for them coming in a lot of times to extend a lead and provide a spark.
“Hopefully, we can wear you out as a team and continue to hit you with talent and guys who can make plays.”
Porter likes Barnes’ shooting range to spread the floor while still having a solid wing defender.
“It didn’t really matter to us,” Barnes said. “Once my shots start falling, I can help stretch the floor. I can help Raja (Bell) out there because this league is full of two and threes who are scorers. I’ll just bring a lot of energy.”

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Those who under-estimate the Phoenix Suns this season will be in for a rude awakening, both, in the regular season and at playoff time … given:

i) This new role for Grant Hill;
ii) A reduced role for Shaquille O’Neal;
iii) The additions of Matt Barnes, Alando Tucker, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Sean Singletary & Louis Amundson; and,
iv) The arrival of Terry Porter, with his focus on Rebounding, Defense & Team Offense.

If they eventually fall this season, sometime in May … let’s say, to the Lakers’ juggernaut, it will not be because they are once again ill-equipped to go the distance as they’ve been in seasons past under the premise of Seven Seconds or Less.

Thus far, every decision the Steve Kerr/Terry Porter tandem has made, in an effort to re-tool their once mis-directed team, has moved the Suns closer to realizing their long term goal of reaching and then winning the NBA Finals Series.

For the 1st time since the 1995-1996 season, this team has the type of Marquee Players, QUALITY DEPTH throughout the roster, Coaching & Style of Play it takes to be considered a Legitimate Contender for the League Championship.

Filling in the gaps for the Suns

September 20, 2008

Further to: Whither the Suns in the Western Conference 

A report yesterday indicates that a new ‘Starting 5′ is on the way, in Phoenix, this season …

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Barnes expected to start; Hill to come off the bench
” … in a roundabout way, Matt Barnes adds depth to the team, as he will be starting and Grant Hill will move to the bench this season.

This last point just about floored everyone in attendance [at the Suns' Fantasy Camp], but it sounds like this is what Coach Porter and Hill want to do [according to Suns' President Rick Welts, who addressed the campers directly].”

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If accurate … it’s another step in the right direction for the Suns, by the Terry Porter/Steve Kerr tandem, as the following new line-up:

STARTERS:
1 – Nash
2 - Bell
3 - Barnes
4 - Stoudemire
5 - O’Neal

SUBS:
1 – Singeletary
1 - Dragic
1/2 – Leandro Barbosa
2/3 – Hill
3/2 – Tucker
4/3 – Diaw
4 – Amundson
5 – Lopez

is a better balanced set-up than Mike D’Antoni’s prior alternative versions.

UPDATE: Confirmation that Grant Hill would be on-board with this proposed shift in Phoenix. [Wed Sep 24 2008]

Whither the Suns in the Western Conference

September 16, 2008

At the beginning of last season, this corner forecast the precipatous decline of ‘Seven Seconds or Less … and then went on to proclaim early-on that, after 3 years at-or-near the top of the Western Conference, knocking on the door of the NBA Finals, Phoenix WOULD NOT EVEN MAKE IT OUT OF THE 1st ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS LAST SEASON …

* NBA Playoffs Preview [2007-2008]
* Legitimate Contenders in the NBA: Part IV
* Eclipse of The Suns: An Update
* Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns
* Eclipse of the Suns

which is precisely what happened.

==========================

Looking back on 2007-2008 …

Q1. What exactly did the Suns accomplish, since the start of last season?
A1. By …

* Replacing Mike D’Antoni with Steve Kerr [former PG with the Bulls & Spurs]
* Adding Grant Hill [6-8, 225]
* Replacing Shawn Marion [6-7, 230] with Shaquille O’Neal [7-1, 325]
* Replacing Mike D’Antoni with Terry Porter [former PG with the Blazers]
* Retaining & then elevating Alando Tucker [6-6, 205]
* Adding Robin Lopez [7-0, 255], Matt Barnes [6-7, 226], Goran Dragic [6-4, 180], Sean Singletary [6-0, 185] and Louis Amundson [6-9, 225]

they’ve changed the entire culture of the organization … AND dramatically improved their chances of returning to the upper echelon of the Western Conference next season and beyond.

That’s what they’ve done in Phoenix over the last 12 months.

Whereas, last year at this time, the Suns were an ALL OFFENSE, NO DEFENSE & POOR REBOUNDING team, using a bandjo-tight 8-man rotation … with almost no legit chance to ever win four [4] consecutive series in the NBA playoffs [what it takes to claim the title!] … as they head to training camp this year … this is NO LONGER the eternal and/or external make-up of this team.

THIS TEAM, this season … with the line-up it can now put on the floor, night-in and night-out:

STARTERS
1 – Nash [6-3, 178]
2 – Bell [6-5, 215]
3 – Hill
4 – Stoudemire [6-10, 249] 
5 – Shaq
————-
KEY BENCH SUBS
1 – Singletary [or Dragic]
2/1 – Barbosa [6-3, 202]
3/2 – Tucker [or Barnes]
4/3 – Diaw [6-8, 235] [or Amundson]
5 – Lopez
————-
RESERVES
1 – Dragic [or Singletary]
3 – Barnes [or Tucker]
4 – Amundson
————-
HEALTHY SCRATCHES
3 – Piatkowski [?]
4/5 – Marks [?]

is as deep and athletically talented as any other outfit in the Western Conference,

this side of the LA Lakers, and

has a solid chance to return to the Western Conference Playoffs … WITH a legit opportunity to win a round or two and, possibly, advancing to the WC Finals, once again … as an upper echelon team, in the NBA.

By returning the focus in Phoenix to what makes for a championship calibre product, in this League … i.e. a commitment to REBOUNDING, Team Defense and a Balanced [higly structured] Team Offense … Steve Kerr may have accomplished in just one season at the helm something which Jerry Colangelo, Bryan Colangelo & Mike D’Antoni [before him] were NOT able to do over the course of their careers in the ‘Valley of the Sun’ … i.e. transform this team into a LEGITIMATE CONTENDER for an NBA championship … i.e. please see, What it takes to win the NBA Championship.

Which is not an easy feat … working for an owner with the reputation of one Robert Sarver.

Q2. Could it be … ‘The Rising of a New Sun[s] in Phoenix‘ this season? 
A2. Yes, Sir, indeed … it just might be that exact thing.

Eclipse of The Suns

February 6, 2008


In his heart-of-hearts, 5-time NBA Champion, part owner & GM, Steve Kerr knows that Phoenix, as constituted … playing the “style” of basketball advocated by Head Coach, Mike D’Antoni, i.e. Offense first & foremost; Defense & Rebounding distant after-thoughts … has absolutely zero (“0”) chance of ever winning an NBA championship.

What it takes to win the NBA Championship 

But … should he actually decide to trade Shawn Marion & Marcus Banks to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O’Neal … what he’d be doing for this franchise would be mortgaging the Suns’ foreseeable future for a chance to win it all in the next 2 years. 

Suns will regret trading for Shaq

Shaquille O’Neal is a venerable and accomplished Center in the annuls of the NBA – a veritable legend – who was once THE Dominant Force in the League but who, unfortunately, can no longer play the game at that same level today: 

SEASON AVERAGES
Season Team G GS MPG FG% 3p% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
07-08 MIA 32 32 28.5 0.581 0.000 0.482 3.0 4.8 7.8 1.4 0.6 1.7 2.91 4.00 14.2
Career   1013 1004 36.4 0.580 0.050 0.524 3.8 7.7 11.5 2.7 0.6 2.4 2.86 3.50 25.6

That said, however, if inserted into the Suns’ revamped line-up, thus:

Starters

Steve Nash, PG

Raja Bell, OG

Grant Hill, SF

Amare Stoudamire, PF

Shaq, C

Key Bench Players

Leandro Barbosa, G

D.J. Strawberry, G
Alando Tucker, G
Eric Piatkowski, G-F

Boris Diaw, F

Sean Marks, F-C

Brian Skinner, C

and, permitted to play within a conventional “style” of NBA basketball, e.g. similar to what Steve Nash was required to play when he teamed with Dirk Nowitzki, in Dallas, which took their team to the Western Conference Finals …

How good would Shaquille O’Neal really have to be – and, For how many minutes a night? – in order to, instantaneously, re-make the Phoenix Suns into a PRIME FORCE in the NBA for the next two years (the length of his current contract)?

Hmmmmmmmm … 14.2 PPG; 7.8 RPG; 1.4 APG; 1.7 BPG … in combination with Nash (a 2-time MVP), Bell, Hill (a multi-time All-Star) & Stoudemire (a multi-time All-Star), supported by Barbosa, Strawberry, Tucker, Piatkowski, Diaw, Marks & Skinner.

The so-called ‘basketball experts’ who feel that Steve Kerr doesn’t know what he’s doing, should he decide to complete this trade … are doing nothing more than MOURNING the LOSS of what THEY BELIEVE to be the Avant Garde way The Game SHOULD be played (in their eyes) in the NBA today … i.e. delivering “fast-paced & highly entertaining” basketball to the masses … which is what the Suns have done since the 2004-2005 season.

But Steve Kerr, if you asked him … would be only glad to say, “Forget that … I Want To Win My 6th NBA Championship … Nothing More and Nothing Less; Avant Garde basketball be damned! … and, this move, right here, is the BEST WAY for me to make this happen with this team, under the current landscape (i.e. after the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol).”

Full Speed Ahead, Mr. Kerr! … it’s the only chance you’ve got to successfully fend off challenges from the other top teams in the Western Conference, i.e. the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Portland Trail Blazers, over the next decade.

Carpe Diem!


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