NBA Roundtable

2012 Team Preview: Phoenix Suns

In Season Previews on October 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Phoenix Suns

Starters

  • PG – Goran Dragic
  • SG – Wesley Johnson
  • SF – Michael Beasley
  • PF – Luis Scola
  • C  – Marcin Gortat

A weak starting unit. Three players who are middle of the pack players at their respective positions. Dragic and Gortat slightly above average and Scola now slightly below par. That leaves Wesley Johnson and Michael Beasley who are amongst the worst starters in the league at their positions.

Goran Dragic will be the centerpiece to so much that Phoenix does next season. He is a well above average defender/rebounder. Has good quickness and great size at 6-4. Offensively, Dragic is more of a scorer than a playmaker. Not a high level offensive talent but a solid one. A legitimate 15/6 type talent who due to the lack of offensive talent around could post a 17-18ppg and 7-8apg type season in Phoenix next season.

Marcin Gortat is the next best player on the team. I have been a bit disappointed that he hasn’t made more of an impact defensively while in Phoenix. He is a really good defensive player and rebounder but he hasn’t been the type of anchor/organizer to make others around him better defensively.

Offensively, Gortat benefited greatly firstly from the Suns offensive system (four out one in, high tempo), secondly Steve Nash’s playmaking, and thirdly, from the lack of offensive options around him which allowed Gortat a larger role offensively than what he is best suited to. So his numbers overstated his worth. Still, while Gortat may not be a top ten center, he damn sure is a really good starting center and is a top 15 player at his position.

Luis Scola had a disappointing year last season. It looked to be the first major dip of age related decline. The biggest drop-off was on the backboards and as a possession creator overall. Once a good rebounder, Scola last year became one of the weakest rebounders in the league at his position playing major minutes. That decline has drastically lowered his value. Offensively, Scola is still a well skilled big man who is good for 15-17ppg. Defensively, Scola is average to a bit below average.

I am disappointed that Michael Beasley won’t be used at the power forward position for Phoenix next year – I think he has good value there as David West like player – both in terms of individual play and enabling Phoenix to continue their uptempo offense and spaced out offense. To better free up Gortat and Dragic in the PnR game.

Anyway, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Phoenix seem to be planning on using Beasley as a power three and as their main go-to scorer. Unfortunately for Phoenix, Beasley is one of the worst defenders in the league at that SF position. He is also an undisciplined but capable rebounder. Offensively, Beasley is a shot-happy player who rarely passes. A very skilled creator but his suspect shot-selection means that his scoring efficiency isn’t what it should be (settles for too many low to medium percentage shots, too few high percentage shots). General unintelligent play … which is a shame because he is a bloody talented basketball player.

Wesley Johnson will probably take the starting two guard position. I think he is more of a quick forward than a big two guard but in truth, Wesley Johnson has struggled mightily at both positions and shown no signs of being a good player at either spot. A so-so defender. A dodgy rebounder. A passive offensive player with a streaky jumper. A limited ball-handler, passer and shot-creator. Great athlete.

Bench

  • PG – Sebastian Telfair, Kendall Marshall
  • SG – Shannon Brown
  • SF – Jared Dudley, PJ Tucker
  • PF – Markieff Morris, Ike Diogu
  • C  – Jermaine O’Neal, Solomon Jones

Jared Dudley is the player of note here. One of the best backup SFs in the league. A James Posey type player. A plus defender/rebounder. An excellent marksman from three point range. A very good offensive role player. A type of player who makes almost nothing but positive contributions to his team and has a large impact on a game despite fairly small stat-lines.

Jermaine O’Neal is probably the next most important piece here. A large liability offensively and a sub-par rebounder. A good but unexceptional defender. Still, as a backup center, his shot-blocking and ability to anchor a defense in the second unit has good value. So long as he is healthy. A solid bench player.

Markieff Morris struggled a lot last year. I had high expectations for him but he failed to meet them. A dodgy defender. A below average rebounder. Offensively, Morris showed some range on his jumper but overall struggled to score efficiently. I feel this is the area he can show the most immediate development in and become a useful player for Phoenix. Then improving his defense and rebounding. A solid prospect. Based on his play last year, Morris was a well below average backup PF. Hoping, Markieff shows more this season.

Shannon Brown is one of the weaker backup two guards in the league. He gets a lot of acclaim for his athleticism, explosive dunking and three point shooting but the truth is that he is a weak defender, non-rebounder, limited creator and is too streaky a shooter to be a quality backup two guard.

Kendall Marshall is a rookie. So he is an unknown. Based on reports, I’d expect him to struggle defensively and in terms of effective scoring. He should be able to run an offense and pass the ball well though. Sebastian Telfair is the alternative and will probably be the more steady player next season. Either way, it looks like Phoenix will have a liability at the backup PG slot.

Overall, this is weak bench and will hurt Phoenix more often than not. I’d love to see Jared Dudley move to a good team. Too good a glue guy to be wasting away on a team as a poor as this.

Overall

The Suns will be a lottery team. Probably too good to get into the high lottery and will instead fall into that 6-12 range.

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