2008-2009 Phoenix Suns Season Preview
2008 Phoenix Suns basketball preview from Maddux Sports handicappers. Before you leave grab unbeatable nba picks from our NBA handicappers.
The Phoenix Suns (55- 27) played an unconventional form of basketball that resulted in a second-place division finish. Coach Mike D’Antoni focused on offense more than defense. The result was that the club won by hitting threes at the rate of 39.3% and twos at 53.8%. They led the league in both categories as well as in offensive efficiency, which came in at 111.2. They weren’t that bad on defense, earning 16th –place in D-efficiency. They were unable to force turnovers and were the only team last season to allow teams a shot on every possession. The extreme lack of defense made bunches of people uneasy, including the guys in the front office.
As the season progressed, team president Steve Kerr seemed set on making the Suns a more conventional club. He brought in Shaquille O’Neal in a trade with Miami that gave the Heat Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Everyone wonder how O’Neal would fit into the fast-paced Phoenix system. The answer was that overall he didn’t. In the trade, the team gave up All-Star front-man Marion for an aging and often ailing super star. After all was said and done, coach D’Antoni was allowed to look for other work and Terry Potter was hired as the new coach.
Rookie swingman Robin Lopez, who played for Stanford, brings a penchant for tough, energized defense. But he won’t offer much offense. The rest of the comings and goings to and from this team are composed of fairly nameless players leaving while other equally nameless players sign-on. O’Neal was the big deal and that happened last season.
Amare Stoudemire is the foundation of the frontcourt. He averaged a team high 25.2 PPG and grabbed 9.1 RPG. Center O’Neal will play his 17th NBA season. He had 9.1 RPG and scored an average of 13.6 PPG. The future Hall of Famer has slowed down and gets injured easily. There are a bunch of question marks in the front. Grant Hill, who is in his 14th professional season, put in 13.1 PPG and Raja Bell hit for 11.9 PPG. Boris Diaw can offer some minutes, baskets and rebounds. The fact is that this frontcourt is much weaker without Marion.
Guard Steve Nash has been at it for a dozen years and he is still an amazing force on the floor. Nash, who played in 81 games last season, scored an average of 16.9 PPG and dished off an average of 11.1 APG. His field goal success rate was 50%, three-point rate was 47% and free throw rate was 91%. But as the team focuses on “D,” Nash may have problems. Leandro Barbosa shot 46% from the floor, averaging 15.6 PPG.
There’s a lack of depth and a bunch of aging guys on this team. New coach Potter is expected to slow things down considerably. He’ll go to a more conventional offensive scheme while ensuring his team plays defense. The Suns were simply exciting last season. This season, they may be more efficient on defense, but they will also a bit boring. The result looks to be second-place in the Pacific Division and sixth within the conference.