Kerr Has Suns Poised

By Zack Cimini

When the Suns decided to ship out their veterans and rely on young unproven talent to fill out their depth, it sure seemed as if the team was heading into that rebuilding stage. Rumors were rampant that the Suns wanted to part ways and trade their star in Amare Stoudemire. After they found suitors for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw as part of the Jason Richardson trade it seemed the Suns were a franchise that didn’t know what they wanted to do. That was quelled when Shaq figured he would work his magic and get the heck out of the there. Suns general manager Steve Kerr quickly obliged and the Diesel yet again got his wishes granted as he danced and shimmied his way to the Cavaliers.

The new look Suns yet again decided to get back to their old style of play. That meant letting Steve Nash do what he does by pushing the tempo and quick fast break transition Mike D’Antoni style of offense. That sort of style of play is what pushed them to a top the league for thrills and excitement aka many points scored.

So what has this 2009-2010 Suns team looking ever more dangerous and off to a running thundering start?

First full year head coach Alvin Gentry has reemphasized a lot of things that Terry Porter just could not reach across with. His abilities to communicate on the level he is with the players has brought a new commitment to the team. Also the team is finally meshing the way Steve Kerr envisioned. A year ago people were bad mouthing his moves and ready to pull his title.

We’d say his only bad move was bringing in Terry Porter. Lets not analyze his other moves yet look at all the chaos of issues the team had a year ago. Amare Stoudemire their franchise player missed most of the year after his eye was damaged yet again. Leandro Barbosa was the quiet fuel that always gave this team a spark with his constant energy and hustle. A foreign player in this league has to adapt quickly but no one is prepared for the sudden loss of your mother. Barbosa missed a few games but wasn’t nearly the same player the Suns were use too seeing the rest of the 2009 campaign.

When Jason Richardson was brought in right before the new year it was a match that we knew would take time to develop. The Suns were still trying to figure out their offensive cohesion as a unit, and Richardson’s role was not known. The one main guy that came in and did his thing on a nightly basis was Grant Hill. Hill fell so much in love with his rebirth at his age that he ignored the money in the off-season so he could resign with the Suns. That’s a true professional there, and he is balling at a level of play that has people thinking he is 30 not 38.

Age was one thing that Alvin Gentry had to worry about. With Nash and Hill being past the 35 mark youth was going to have to step up. They brought in unheralded free agent Channing Frye who had shown flashes in his career but had been tossed around in the league. He is a big guy that likes to hang around the perimeter. That figured to balance nicely when he is playing on the floor with Amare, and also when the Suns are running their transition offense.

The biggest factor of change from this team has to due with the emergence of their talented bench. It’s probably a bench full of role players that is least known and recognized in the NBA circles, but each game this year they’re gaining notice. It features Earl Clark the rookie from Louisville, backup point guard Goran Dragic, do it all forward Jared Dudley, and hard nosed backup center Louis Amundson. Time and time again this year Alvin Gentry will have this core come in and spell big minutes for the team. It’s usually when the starters are lagging and Gentry wants to see if the bench can resuscitate some life into his team.

The starters have seen them excel and now the chemistry has intermixed with the bench and starters. The two that have really come along over the last five to six games have been Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley. Dragic is given Steve Nash excellent minutes of rest and fulfilling true point guard duties. A year ago when Dragic would be inserted he looked hesitant and worrisome on the court. Now he has developed confidence and maturity in his game. Dudley is currently the Suns sixth man and for good reason. He is averaging around 23 minutes a game and is an all around hustler that is sneakily averaging close to 10 points a game.

The depth of this team is what will be the extra difference from Suns teams in the past that have storm rolled through regular seasons then faltered against the heavy weights in the western conference playoffs. For fantasy purposes scoop up Dudley and keep a close eye on the Suns reserves aforementioned in case of injury and increased minutes.