Filling in the gaps for the Suns

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 …


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].”


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:

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

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]

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20 Responses to “Filling in the gaps for the Suns”

  1. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Matt Barnes? LOL Their bench is amazing. And Shaq starting?

  2. Dave Says:

    Khandor, in what ways does it provide the Suns with better balance?

  3. khandor Says:


    In a similar way as to what Joe D. & MC [Hammer] are searching for with this year’s Pistons’ line-up … Pistons go back to basics.

    Using the 5 [or even 4] most offensively talented players on a team together does not usually make for the best squad an organization can put on the floor, in a given season.

    * Nash is a tremendous offensive player but a relatively weak defender.
    * Bell is a stronger defender than he is an offensive player.
    * Hill was, at one time, a very good defender but now, given his physical limitations, is probably viewed best as an offensive sparkplug off the bench, who is a very talented passer.
    * Inserting Barnes into Hill’s place, injects more energy, youthful athleticism, and a focus on the defensive & rebounding side of the equation, with the first unit, and allows Hill to be the facilitator/secondary scorer he is best suited for, with the second unit, at this stage of his career.
    * Stoudemire is an offensive force of gargantuan proportions when he is teamed with Nash, and he doesn’t have to focus his efforts on individual defense. Barnes in the 1st unit puts the offensive focus squarely on Stoudemire & Nash to carry the load for this group.
    * Shaquille, at this stage of his career, is now a marginal offensive player, who has trouble finishing finesse shots around the hoop and, as always, making his free throws. Barnes in the 1st unit means that Shaq is now the 3rd defender with this group, whose primary job is to focus on his efforts on REBOUNDING.

    Off + Def + Def + Off + Def = A well-balanced Terry Porter [as the former PG for the terrific Trailblazers’ teams of the early 1990’s] coached team

    Which then does the following for the Suns’ bench:

    Singletary … defender/facilitator
    Dragic … offensive/defensive
    Barbosa … offensive force/scorer
    Hill … facilitator/scorer
    Tucker … offensive scorer
    Diaw … facilitator
    Amundson … shot-blocker/defender/rebounder
    Lopez … shot-blocker/defender/rebounder

    making them an exceptionally versatile team which is capable of playing different styles, at different tempos, and beating opponents in a variety of different ways, with an array of different line-up combinations … ala those great Portland teams led by Terry Porter, and vanquished only by the exceptionally outstanding teams from Chicago [i.e. MJ, etc. … including Suns’ GM, Steve Kerr] and Detroit [Boad Boyz I].

    Rebounding & Defense first.
    Offense second.

    IMO … this is/will be a very dangerous team in the Western Conference playoffs this season, IF THEIR KEY PLAYERS CAN STAY HEALTHY.

    This team is a much, much better version of the very, very good Dallas Mavericks’ teams which featured Nash, Finley and Dirk [etc.].

    This team can [i] REBOUND, [ii] Defend and [iii] Score the ball on Offense … in combination with one another … in ways that the Mike D’Antoni incarnations of the Suns’ couldn’t ever dream of accomplishing.

    Forget Seven Seconds or Less

    THIS is now a serious team.

  4. Dave Says:


    Do you rate Matt Barnes as a superior defensive player over Grant Hill?

  5. khandor Says:


    It’s not that Matt should be considered a better defender than Grant; but that Barnes is not a player who should be focusing on offense, when playing in combination with Nash, Bell, Stoudemire & Shaq … while Hill is a player who should be an offensive sparkplug [as a facilitator/scorer], when playing with the Sun’s 2nd Unit, alongside players like Barbosa, Singletary/Dragic, Tucker/Diaw, and Lopez/Amundson, plus the team’s main defensive player from its 1st group, i.e. Raja Bell.

    Do you see the difference there?

  6. Dave Says:


    If the man is a worse defender how does he improve their defense?
    If the man is a worse offensive player how does he improve their offense?

    The second unit is led by two great (bench wise) offensive talents in Barbosa and Diaw. They also have solid offensive talents with Lopez and Singletary (I don’t know enough about Dragic to say). They don’t need to sacrifice their starting lineup to help this group.

  7. khandor Says:


    1. In real terms … i.e. not rotisserie/fantasy … being worse defensively or offensively is not the issue.

    2. I did not say that Barnes was either worse or better than Hill, in either of these two categories.

    3. What I said … was something different than that … which you might not understand.

    4. You might think that Boris Diaw is a “great offensive talent” but I do not think he fits into this category at all.


    At this moment … the Suns have 5 players who I think fit into the category of “players who SHOULD be focusing on their offense” while they’re on the floor this season for Phoenix, i.e. the 5 bolded names above.

    The other players on the Suns’ roster SHOULD … IMO, and I think the opinion’s of Steve Kerr and Terry Porter … be focused on REBOUNDING, DEFENDING & playing Sound Team Offense for Phoenix, whenever they get in the game.

    IMO … going with the line-up listed above would ALLOW each of the players listed above to fit/function/play within these roles for this year’s Suns’ team.

    IMO … that group of players … broken down that way … actually gives the Suns their best chance at winning a NBA title since the 1970’s.


    The Suns’ 1st Unit is plenty tough enough with the offensive focus on Nash & Stoudemire … supported by the 3PT-Shooting of Bell, the space & attention Shaq eats up in the Low Post and the Marion-lite mix of Barnes; but …

    their 2nd Unit now becomes ‘championship contender worthy’ with the inclusion of Hill, in some combination with Barbosa, Tucker/Diaw, Lopez/Amundson, Singletary/Dragic & Bell [who should see PT with both units, as the team’s principal defender].

    Having 3 players, like the ones in bold there, capable of coming off the bench for the Suns’, at any time, as NEEDS dictate … would make their team a very tough out in the WC playoffs this season.

    [Note: Neither Robin Lopez nor Sean Singletary SHOULD be thought of as a bonafide ‘offensive player’ when coming off the bench for an elite level team in the NBA … but they are both good enough to be perceived as decent defensive players in this type of role.]

  8. Dave Says:

    So you want Grant Hill on the bench solely to boost the second unit?

  9. khandor Says:

    No, Dave … that’s not what I said.

    Instead of trying to ‘short-hand’ what I said, into something else which I didn’t say … simply go with what I said, in the first place, instead.

    It usually works better that way. 🙂

  10. khandor Says:


    Sorry … I just couldn’t resist that one. 🙂

  11. khandor Says:

    Putting Hill with the 2nd Unit … fundamentally CHANGES the focus of BOTH the 1st and the 2nd units … which is part of what was needed/missing for the Suns under the direction of Bryan Colangelo and then Mike D’Antoni.

  12. Dave Says:

    I don’t understand this. What’s coming across is you want the coach to say “focus on this” and that makes him have a better impact than a superior player. That makes no sense to me.

    Why does Barnes make the starting lineup better?
    If Barnes does not make the starting lineup better, then the only point of the move is to make the 2nd unit better?

    Which is it?

  13. khandor Says:

    Matt Barnes makes the ‘starting line-up’ better, in part, because there would now be more of an emphasis on Amare Stoudemire, in this group, as the primary offensive partner of Steve Nash.

    Bell, and Barnes and Shaq are NOT there for their Offense … they are there to REBOUND, Defend, Pass the Ball and make open shots.

    That’s a different mentality for that 1st Unit.

  14. Dave Says:

    Okay, so you think their starting lineup is better and that their 2nd unit is better. Both upgraded by this move. Correct?


    I’m lost, I’m struggling to follow your thinking on this. What I don’t understand is how their starting lineup’s defense or offense takes a step forward from this?

    Do you think Matt Barnes a better defender?
    – I do not think so. I think he makes their defense worse. This to me is the key question. If you rate Barnes’ defense ahead of Hill’s then I could understand some of the contribution you think Barnes makes. I think Barnes inferior defender and by a large margin.

    Offensively, how is Matt Barnes making them better?

    Is Grant Hill a selfish player? Does he shoot to much? Does Grant take too much time on the ball? Is Hill a worse passer than Barnes? Is he a worse ball handler than Barnes? Is he a worse decision maker than Barnes? Is Hill worse in the open court than Barnes? Is Hill a worse shooter than Barnes? Does Barnes do a better job of spacing the floor?

    Barnes is a better rebounder. I agree with that. Does that make up for the decreases in ability (offense, defense) elsewhere?


    Or if it’s not the above, do you think that solely having a different mentality in the starting lineup gives that positive and significant a change as to play Barnes over Hill?

  15. khandor Says:


    re: “Or if it’s not the above, do you think that solely having a different mentality in the starting lineup gives that positive and significant a change as to play Barnes over Hill?”

    Yes, to this part … ^^^ … right there … but, so too with the 2nd Unit, as well.

    The 2nd Unit in Phoenix was/has not thought of as the group that was going to come in and wratchit UP the offensive intensity of the game for the Suns, under Mike D’Antoni, if their opponent was/is not very, very careful.

    IMO … the mentality of the 2nd Unit in Phoenix also changes with the inclusion of Grant Hill in this group … with Barbosa & Tucker.


    IMO … using their players in this way, in combination with one another … rather than based strictly on which ones are perceived to better or worse, as individual players, in comparison with another player, only … is a very different mindset and a different way of looking at the game.

  16. Dave Says:

    Khandor, okay I’m with you now. I don’t agree, but I’m following your thinking on it now.

    I’d have to see a tangible effect somewhere to agree with the benefits of the new mentality ….. and I don’t see any for the starting lineup and do see some for the 2nd unit … but not enough advantages for it to be a superior option than Grant in the starting lineup.

    To veer slightly away from who should start, say Barnes does start, what minutes would you like to see given to him?

    – Would you like to see Barnes should get starters minutes? (say around 30mpg)
    – Or would you like to see him play backup minutes but as the starter? (say around 15-20mpg, or maybe 20-25mpg)

  17. khandor Says:

    From my POV …

    Barnes overall PT should NOT be tied to Hill’s.

    Hill’s PT should be limited … in order to keep him fresh for the post-season AND to allow him to form a new identity for this team’s 2nd Unit.

    Barnes overall PT SHOULD be tied to the development of Alando Tucker (3/2) and the hoped for growth in the game of Boris Diaw (3/4).

    i.e. The better these two other players perform with the 2nd Unit the fewer minutes overall Barnes will need to be on the floor. The better the 2nd Unit performs overall the fewer minutes the 1st Unit will need to be on the floor.

  18. Dave Says:

    Boris Diaw would have been an interesting starter at small forward. Not practical but there’s a few interesting things he could have brought.

    He was either the Suns best or second best defender last season and can guard any position on the court. He looks extremely dangerous down in the post against smaller wings too. Hard to do with Shaq-Amare though, not enough room in the paint and you don’t want them away from the rim … plus you could only do it if you had enough faith in Lopez to play 25 minutes a night as the main backup big.

    I’d like to see Boris get another opportunity to start somewhere. I think he’s built up enough confidence in himself now, and other coaches have seen ways in which he’s effective … I think he’d do a lot better this time round. He’d be perfect for Jerry Sloan’s Jazz.

  19. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Boris Diaw should be the Suns starting center. Because Shaq is done.

  20. The Hoop Doctors Daily Dimes: 09/21 | The Hoop Doctors Says:

    […] Barnes definitely would be a good fit for the Suns starting lineup. Saves Hills health for the Playoffs too! Khandor’s Sports Blog: Filling in the Gaps for the Suns […]

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