Friday, March 21, 2008

Top Seven reasons the Suns will win it all this year

Including some you may not have considered:

7. The Gordon Giricek signing

Phoenix stumbled on a better-than-average defender who happens to feel his very best running in the Suns uptempo system. Raja Bell was consistently getting killed under the basket by Carmelo Anthony in the recent Nugs-Suns matchup. Giricek was inserted as a "we'll try anything" attempt to slow down Anthony -- he immediately threw his body into Melo and forced a turnover as the Nuggets tried to feed him the ball... He's also a pretty good shooter, and a relatively athletic addition to the roster, which was needed after the Trade.

6. The Boston Celtics.

They look well on their way to securing the #1 spot in the East, and the best record overall. If there is one team that would give Phoenix fits in the playoffs, it's Detroit. But if the Celtics do their part, the Suns won't see the Pistons. And if they do, here's hoping it's a Pistons team that is worn out from having to grind out a 7th game in Boston. The Suns can beat the Celtics. Amare pisses KG off because his offensive game is more complete, and KG responds by forcing it against Amare (and Shaq).

5. The Grant Hill signing

Stealing Grant Hill away from Orlando for roughly 2 mil a season allowed the Marion trade to happen without neutering the Suns. He is an all-around player, reliable defender, more capable of creating his own shot than Marion, and he finishes well on the break. He's also a perfect insurance policy in case Leandro Barbosa were to lose his mind in a playoff game..

4. The Lakers will fail to integrate Bynum

As you know, he won't be back until the first round of the playoffs. If he was a 30 year old veteran superstar, I'd be concerned about the comeback. But I would like nothing more than to see the Lakers get jettisoned in the first round because of an inbalance caused by Bynum's return... and I can see it happening. I can also see the Lakers winning it all NEXT year, but that's a different article that I'll never write.

3. Trade effect: Diffusion of responsibility

Bringing in Shaq relieved Steve Nash of a tremendous amount of "championship burden". One of the problems of the Shawn Marion situation was that, to go along with his well-noted under-appreciated status, he also wasn't assigned much responsibility for playoff failings. This fell on Nash, and to some extent, Stoudemire. But with this new roster, there is more than enough accountability -- Since O'neal's arrival there is the increasing feeling that everyone has a stake and responsibility in making this run.

2. Amare's recovery from knee surgery.

Yes, Stoudemire came back last year, and yes, he made the all-star team -- but last year, I'd watch the guy play, and he was putting up numbers and helping the team, but there was a lingering, legitimate feeling that he just hadn't fully regained his explosiveness. I don't feel that way this year. And I dare say, the time off was indeed beneficial to his mid-range jumper, which is now among the deadliest and purest in the league. He is the complete offensive package and BY FAR the best offensive big man in the league.

1. Suns' level of play will rise the most in the playoffs

The Suns have looked like a team trying to break through in different ways all season long. After the Trade, one of the biggest adversaries the veteran Suns face is regular season scheduling -- back to backs, road trips, 4 in 5s... this is all but eliminated in the playoffs. Their new look will allow them to match up against anyone -- this is the single most important characteristic a team needs in order to survive the west. And who is going to be hungrier than the Phoenix Suns?