Suns

2010-11 NBA Preview: Phoenix Suns

| by Give Me The Rock

Amar’e has decided to take his scoring ability, fat paycheck, poked eye, semi-wonky knee and what’s left of his athleticism to the city that never sleeps. Life, the Suns downward spiraling hopes for an NBA title, and fantasy basketball move on.

He’s left a void, that while not impossible, will be one that is going to be challenging to fill, perhaps at times “by committee.” The new Phoenix Suns – Or what I now like to call, the biggest collection of guard-forwards west of, pretty much everywhere – will have an interesting 2010 season. Is that necessarily a bad thing? The proof dear friends, as they say, will be in the pudding.

As far as fantasy basketball is concerned, it affects players’ playing time and lends itself to possibly inconsistent minutes and consequently fantasy production. I wouldn’t worry, too much. Alvin Gentry has a masters in the D’Antoni School of minutes juggling. Remember Leandro Barbosa? Well back when he was still back in Phoenix (now in Toronto), still healthy, and was actually able to deliver serviceable numbers off the Suns’ bench (at virtually starter’s minutes). That was way back in ‘07, where he did almost 16 PPG at 29 minutes per outing. So yes, it will take a little bit of management, but overcrowding may not be (too much of) an issue.

 

Depth Chart

PG Steve Nash, Goran Dragic, Matt Janning

SG Jason Richardson, Josh Childress, Goran Dragic

SF Grant Hill, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley

PF Hidayet Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, Earl Clark, Gani Lawal

C  Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick

As you can see, they are pretty thin at the point guard position. Especially since Goran Dragic, Nash’s only true relief, is more of a combo guard than a true passing guard.

Since the Suns don’t want Nash to play too much in practice, Janning might just be a candidate as the team’s third string PG. That according to the Suns’ August 20 team report.

Josh Childress is going to be the all-around sixth man, ready to relieve Hill or Richardson and provide a continued scoring punch and a little defense on the wings.

All of that aside, we in the fantasy basketball world all know who butters our fantasy bread.

The Suns’ players fantasy values rest in the capable hands of this guy…

 

Steve Nash. So it’s only fitting that we kick things off with the fire that burns deep within this Phoenix’s heart.

You may call him old, at 36-years young this season, but Nash (and I say this boldly) will exceed expectations; defying Time, odds, and possibly the ceiling of his turnovers-per-game averages. Decline, shmeckline. What you call old, I call dependable, reliable, bankable. Hard sell? Maybe just a smidge.

He finished 21st on GMTR’s player rater last season and I can see him providing a rock-solid, second-round-worthy performance this season. For more Nash love, check out Sun Zoo’s description of “the best PG in the NBA.” The proclamation may be from a biased source, but in fairness, the basis of the propounded point was well founded in fact.

 

I see his scoring to rise, a tad, and hover around the 17 to 18 range.

Even with Amar’e gone, Steve has a lot of recipients of his amazing dimes. 11 APG or more should still be expected.

50+ FG% and 1.5 treys a night, you betcha!

Turnovers per night… uh… uhm… let’s move on… (Besides, who cares about TOs anyway?)

The issue with Nash, is his recurring back problems. In spite of him not missing more than eight games in the new millennium, concerns should rise that the Suns will have to rest their star point guard for several games this season (especially towards the end). His minutes will be closely monitored as Phoenix likely does not want to fatigue their former NBA MVP. Trey Kerby of BDL described it best, and I quote (from the diagram):

Back: Held together by wood screws, magic, and duct tape.

Well, let’s give the “old man” a break.

Sorry.

I meant to say chronologically challenged man. He WAS young once upon a time. Weren’t we all?

 

The even deeper impact that he delivers, above and beyond his individual statistical contributions, is his amazing ability to raise his teammates from the shadows fantasy obscurity and into light of sleeperdom. Channing Frye’s NBA memoirs should have an entire chapter (or two) about this. It should be a Frye family best-seller, not coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Before I am accused of having a favoritism for point guards, let’s move on to the other Suns who are fantasy-worthy reads. (Don’t listen to Nels and Patrick. They’ll tell you I’m going to grab/draft Rajon Rondo as soon as I possibly can. They’re just paranoid.)

Jason Richardson may have finished a lowly yet respectable 59th on our player rater last season, but I expect him, Nash, and Turkoglu to pick up the scoring slack left by Stoudemire. We should see his 15.7 PPG hit somewhere in the 18-19 range. He’ll be good for some threes, here and there (2.0), and as long as he can maintain his low TO average, J-Rich may just see a fantasy hoops renaissance period in 2010.

Hedo Turkoglu – As terrible as he was with the Raptors last season, expect to see more shades of his Orlando form now that he’s in Phoenix. That’s realistic. Just visit www.stevenashmakeseveryonebetter.com! Yeah, it’s not a real site, but you get the point. Oh I almost forgot, small-ball aficionados should be happy with his soon-to-be awarded PF-eligibility (the dude’s 6′10″ after all). He’s been a natural G/F for majority of his career, so tri-eligibility and the flexibility that comes with it might just be a plus worth considering.

Bright Side of the Sun just made my life a bit easier by turning in a slammin’ job in their exclusive interview with Hakim Warrick.  Warrick, like the rest of his teammates, should benefit from the “Nash Effect.” It’s best to wait and see how much impact the said effect will have on Warrick’s value. There’s no sense in overvaluing him. Some managers might get a bit eager to acquire his fantasy services during the draft. Let them.

 

The sad thing about Channing Frye is that his 2009-2010 fantasy value (based on per game averages) is weighted, arguably slightly bloated, by the games he started for the Suns (41 games). His production and consistency dropped considerably when Robin Lopez came into his own, took his minutes, and some of his fantasy thunder. As long as Frye’s not a starter, don’t expect to catch lightning in a bottle and ride his “surprise value,” that was just so 2009. He’ll still be good as a source for treys and some other minor peripheral contributions. Center eligibility is the gravy that really makes him a palatable late-round draft pick. Suns Zoo talks a little bit about those trey contributions I spoke of in their Suns Fantasy Preview. Oh, they were kind enough to lump Jared Dudley into the three-point shooting booster category as well. Frye does appear to have a bit more fantasy potential and should be segregated into a higher draft round.

Grant Hill is old and is in decline. His production dropped him off the 12-man radar last season. The infusion of Turkoglu and Childress will only serve to further shovel more dirt on his fantasy grave. Expect more mediocre counting stats, and pedestrian percentages. He finished 124th last season on our rater and I cannot see him retaining that rank. Sadly, it’s all down Hill from here.

Josh Childress is a fantasy conundrum, considering he spent the last two seasons playing in Greece. What are his prospects for the 2010 season? Valley of the Suns does a very comprehensive breakdown of Josh and what he’s bringing to the Phoenix table. Minutes will be the key factor in determining his overall impact. Having him, Jared Dudley, Dragic come off the Suns’ bench definitely gives Phoenix some solid depth this year.

We at GMTR, well at least  I am, are high on Robin Lopez. I like the toughness and spunk that he showed last season. While the “Lopez Brothers” are not about to challenge the Gasols for brother-tandem fantasy supremacy anytime soon, they at least will remain more fantasy significant than your garden variety Collins twin. Until Earl Clark grows in confidence and gets more playing time, Robin remains the Suns’ only real muscle in the middle. Lopez averaged 4.9 boards and 1 block per game last season, but I think that we should see those numbers rise. 6-7 RPG and 1.3 BPG are reasonable projections for him this season, albeit generous. You may want to take a chance on him as a last round flier pick or simply just play the wait and see game.

Before this preview ends up lasting longer than a Suns’ playoff run, I’ll end it with some fantasy draft guidance for 12-man leagues.

Steve Nash - 2nd Round

Jason Richardson – 4th Round

Hedo Turkoglu - 6th Round

Channing Frye – 8th Round

Josh Childress – 10th Round

Dragic/Lopez/Dudley – Last Round Fliers

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