With training camp starting in Cleveland on October 1, Right Down Euclid will be ranking teams from the bottom to the top of the Eastern and Western Conferences. Everyday I will rotate between conferences, starting with the East teams and counting up from No. 16 all the way to the best team in each respective conference.
I will give a quick synopsis of each team’s roster, some of their statistics from last year and why I think they will finish in the position that I predicted. Agree or disagree, stay tuned to RDE to see where your team lands in the 2012 Offseason Team Rankings.
No. 11 – Phoenix Suns (4th in Pacific)
2011-12 season: 33-33 (.500), 3rd place in Pacific Division (9-5)
Offensive Efficiency: 103.5 (8th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.8 (23rd)
F – Michael Beasley
G – Shannon Brown
G – Goran Dragic
F – Jared Dudley
C – Channing Frye
C – Marcin Gortat
F – Wesley Johnson
G – Kendall Marshall
F – Markeiff Morris
C-F – Jermaine O’Neal
F – Luis Scola
G – Sebastian Telfair
F – P.J. Tucker
No Steve Nash, no problem? Nope, not a chance. The Suns were only a .500 team with the future Hall of Fame point guard in the starting lineup, so it’s going to be hard for this team to come even remotely close to those numbers with Nash out of the lineup for the first time since the 2003-04 season. First round draft pick Kendall Marshall or Marcin Gortat, who has very little experience as a starter, will come in to fill the point guard void. With Nash accounting for almost half of the Suns’ assists last season, someone will be whisked into a position that will ask a lot of them. If that happens to be Marshall, we could see an ugly start to the season. The former Tar Heel isn’t ready yet to take on that kind of role. Remember, the Suns did rank sixth in the Association in assists per game.
A move that automatically helped Phoenix with their defensive issues, especially in the frontcourt, was the acquisition of Luis Scola via amnesty clause. Scola’s statistics may not show it, but he is a formidable defender who will come in and play power forward for a team lacking a productive four. Playing beside center Marcin Gortat looks good on paper, but will also look good once the two take the court as starters. Losing Grant Hill, who is entering his 18th NBA season, isn’t a detrimental blow because Scola makes the Suns a tough team to face down low. Channing Frye is a great second option as a big, so winning the Scola bid paid off for the Suns in a lot of ways. The Cavaliers were gunning for him at first, and actually did make a move for him, but I think with Anderson Varejao back and healthy they really didn’t need him as much as a team like the Suns do.
Still, the Suns defense, which struggled last year, will fade away toward the end of every game. They don’t have players tough enough to play hard-nosed defense to fill a whole game. The bench is thin and not one player averaged over one steal for the season. The frontcourt added necessary pieces and didn’t lose anyone detrimental to the development of that unit, while the backcourt took a few steps back. Rebuilding time in Phoenix.