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  #1  
Old 08-23-05, 12:10 PM
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Suns looking to protect their own basket next season

Suns looking to protect their own basket next season

Getting Defensive

By Brad Friedman link
August 22 -- Nobody ever said three-pointers win championships. Last season, the San Antonio Spurs showed the Phoenix Suns why.

Coming off a magical regular season campaign in which Phoenix set an all-time record for three-pointers made (796) in addition to leading the league in wins (62), points per game (110.4) and three-point percentage (.393), the Suns were handily defeated by the eventual Larry O'Brien Trophy-winner San Antonio in the West Finals, 4-1.

"We didn't really find an answer for Tim (Duncan)," said Suns guard Steve Nash, who helped the team complete the third-best regular season turnaround in league history after joining the team as a free agent. "He's just such a terrific player."

'04-05 STATS PER 48 MIN
Raja Bell Joe Johnson

20.7 ppg 20.7 ppg
5.4 rpg 6.3 rpg
2.4 apg 4.3 apg

2004-05 ROSTER STATUS
UNDER CONTRACT Leandro Barbosa, Jim Jackson, Shawn Marion, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Kurt Thomas
FREE AGENTS Walter McCarty, Charles "Bo" Outlaw, Paul Shirley
PLAYERS ADDED
NBA DRAFT Dijon Thompson (54)
FREE AGENTS Raja Bell (Utah), Pat Burke (Spain), Brian Grant (L.A. Lakers)
TRADES Boris Diaw (Atlanta), Kurt Thomas (New York)
PLAYERS LOST
FREE AGENTS Steven Hunter (Philadelphia)
TRADES Joe Johnson (Atlanta), Quentin Richardson (New York), Jake Voskuhl (Charlotte)
WAIVED
2005-06 PROJECTED STARTERS
GUARDS Steve Nash, Raja Bell
FORWARDS Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire
CENTER Kurt Thomas



Duncan averaged 27.4 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game and shot .527 from the field against Phoenix, which lacked mobile, big bodies to collapse on him in the post when Amare Stoudemire tried to check Duncan one-on-one. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili also had his way versus the Suns' defense, tallying 22.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists a night, numbers that far superseded his regular season contributions.

San Antonio, a team nobody thought could score, averaged 108.2 points per game over the five-game series.

"We're going to keep the (up-tempo) style, but we have got to get a lot better defensively," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni admitted after Game 5.

This summer, the Suns have been on a mission to upgrade a defense that ranked last in the NBA in points allowed last year.

Jump shooting swingman Quentin Richardson was dealt to New York on Draft Night in return for Knicks forward/center Kurt Thomas. Richardson struggled in the playoffs -- where defenses are tighter and open shots fewer -- tallying a pedestrian 11.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

At 32, the 6-9 Thomas averaged a double-double for the first time in his career last campaign and is regarded as one of the toughest defenders in the league. He'll start alongside Stoudemire in the post, where the pair will interchange between the 4 and 5 spots. All-Star Shawn Marion, who played out of position last year, also benefits from the move, as he'll be able to slide to the more natural small forward slot.

On the free agent market, Phoenix tapped burly 6-8 pivot Brian Grant and 6-5 shooting guard Raja Bell to advance its defensive transformation.

The physical Grant comes from Los Angeles, where he was the Lakers' amnesty cut. Over 11 seasons, he's averaged 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds, and at the very least gives the Suns another body to throw at Duncan.

"When you’re the opposition, speaking from experience, you can’t penetrate his defense," said Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni, who was a Heat assistant when Grant was in Miami. "It makes it very difficult to throw the ball inside against this guy. He really does a great job of using his body, putting his body on people.

"Anybody who comes near the basket, whether it’s to go for a rebound or to catch the ball and make a play, they are always met by Brian very early.”

The Bell acquisition helps absorb the loss of restricted free agent Joe Johnson, a valuable component of last season's team who requested Phoenix allow him to make an Atlanta exit via sign-and-trade.

When you look at the numbers of Bell and Johnson side-by-side, the differences aren't quite as significant as their reported contract terms. Per 48 minutes last season, Johnson averaged 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists on .461 shooting compared to Bell's 20.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and .454 field goal percentage. Bell isn't the shooter that the NBA's leader in three-point percentage was, but he converted a highly respectable .403 from beyond the stripe.

In the sign-and-trade, the Suns acquired Hawks swingman Boris Diaw, who has a reputation as a stopper and will help Bell improve a perimeter defense that looked invisible versus the Spurs.

Phoenix will look like a very different team than they did last season, when its knees gave out against San Antonio. While there's no guaranteeing the Suns will be able to topple the defending NBA champs, they'll surely stand more proudly alongside of them.
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Old 08-23-05, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
August 22 -- Nobody ever said three-pointers win championships. Last season, the San Antonio Spurs showed the Phoenix Suns why.
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Old 08-23-05, 12:29 PM
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Does this guy really think that these moves made the Suns better comp for the Spurs? I think they got a lot worse.
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Old 08-23-05, 12:32 PM
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I think they got worse also...they have done nothing to overtake SA
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Old 08-23-05, 12:36 PM
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Maybe he means that they'll "stand taller" because they replaced their excellent swingmen with tall stiffs.

Brian Grant? Give me a break. His knees are bone on bone.
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Old 08-23-05, 12:38 PM
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All depends on chemistry. If they can come together defensively and keep doing what they've been doing with Nash + Amare offensively, they can be a challange.
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Old 08-23-05, 01:01 PM
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What is their defensive scheme? Last year they didn't seem to have one. You can't just plug in players that have succeeded elsewhere in good team defensive schemes and expect that to rub off. Good execution requires a good plan starting out. What's the plan? "Try harder" and "pay more attention" aren't the right answer.

What's D'Antoni planning? He's not known as a great defensive coach. Who's going to help him?

Kurt Thomas will get physical down low, but I seem to remember him as the guy Tim Duncan absolutely demolished in the 1999 Finals while Marcus Camby was tied up defending the Admiral. KT also is notoriously derelict about coming out on the pick and roll. Tony Parker will get 12-footers all day long in the two-man game with Timmy (can he hit them?). Brian Grant is tough, but there's maybe a 30% he'll even make it as far as the playoffs. Nobody can seem to figure out whether Raja Bell really is a solid defender or just a physical player.

Phoenix can blow smoke in their fans' face all they want, but they undoubtedly got worse. Without so maybe sharpshooters on the perimeter daring opponents to leave them open, Amare won't have it so easy in the paint.

Phoenix will be back when they can cash in on those picks they got from Atlanta.

And if D'Antoni
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Old 08-23-05, 01:03 PM
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The moves are good, but this will put a bigger burden on Amare to carry the offensive load, and how easiser that becomes with all those outside shooters gone, will be interesting. They should improve their rebounding, thier overall defensive game and maybe hold teams to less than the 103 ppg they were giving up. They also got outrebounded for the year and having Thomas will surely help them there.

The other problem is that they probably won't score 110 ppg either.
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Old 08-23-05, 01:04 PM
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Yeah....protect the basket by adding two undersized centers (true PF) that are known more for their age then their defensive prowness and blocking... Good move....
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Old 08-23-05, 01:04 PM
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Houston will be in the WCf with us....not the Suns.
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Old 08-23-05, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Jump shooting swingman Quentin Richardson was dealt to New York on Draft Night in return for Knicks forward/center Kurt Thomas. Richardson struggled in the playoffs -- where defenses are tighter and open shots fewer -- tallying a pedestrian 11.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
A pedestrian 11.9 ppg? Kurt Thomas averaged 11.5 during the regular season in the East where post players aren't as good!

Quote:
At 32, the 6-9 Thomas averaged a double-double for the first time in his career last campaign and is regarded as one of the toughest defenders in the league.
who reguards him as one of the toughest defenders in the league? The guy has never averaged more then 1 block a game, even though he played 36 minutes a game last year. He was 38th in blocks per game last year inbetween Wade and Battier, but he's a big man

He wasn't even as good on defense as the guy they let go as a free agent, or undersized Marion or Amare who were both playing out of position
Amare = 36.1 minutes per game - 130 total blocks (1.63 per game)
Marion = 38.8 minute per game - 119 totoal blocks (1.47 per game)
Steven Hunter = 13.8 minutes per game - 102 total blocks (1.34 per game)
Thomas = 35.7 minutes per game - 79 total blocks (0.99 per game)

Steven Hunter while playing less then half the playing time Kurt got had a lot more blocks then he did. Thomas is NOT the answer for defense by any means!


Thier coach is so over-rated, there was no way he should have been coach of the year. Watching them during the playoffs, to me it looked like they just got the ball to Nash and he created for the team, they didn't seem to run any plays, thier offense looked like all Nash and pick and rolls with Amare. It worked for thier offense because of how great Nash played, but defensively he will be exposed for the coach he is, he can't just plug a few mediocure defensive players into the lineup and expect them to do to the defense what Nash was able to do for thier offense last year. Thier coach SUCKS! Unless he comes up with a defensive scheme, they will be horrible again on that end of the floor.
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Old 08-23-05, 02:00 PM
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Their new defensive philosophy is instead of watching opposing players blow by Sun "defenders" in half court sets Nash, Marion and Amare will watch opposing players blow by them in the transition game as Thomas and Grant are still lumbering down the floor in the backcourt.
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Old 08-23-05, 02:04 PM
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Steve Nash for DPOY!
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Old 08-23-05, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy from Austin
[We didn't really find an answer for Tim (Duncan)," said Suns guard Steve Nash, who helped the team complete the third-best regular season turnaround in league history after joining the team as a free agent. "He's just such a terrific player."
They didn't have an answer for Tim Duncan, they didn't have an answer for Manu Ginobili, they didn't have an answer for Robert Horry, they didn't have an answer for Tony Parker. I do not see how these changes give them an answer for the Spurs once again. I think the things they changed will make them worse. I still do not know how Kurt Thomas and Brian Grant will be able to run with the "up tempo" style D'Antoni insists they will keep.

Losing Q and Joe Johnson leaves a huge offensive hole as well. Good luck Suns, no way you are winning 62 games next year.
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Old 08-23-05, 03:06 PM
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I just e-mailed this link to their organization with a note that just read
'Enjoy.'

http://www.basketball-drills-and-pla...all-plays.html


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Old 08-23-05, 03:26 PM
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Aww, man, leave them alone, they are an entertaining team, and DAntoni was one of the guys who took the high road and didn't whine or moan about anything other than getting outplayed by the Spurs. And Amente, stop helping them!!!!!! I'm going to use that for my grandson's CYO team when I help coach them this coming fall. Great Stuff.
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Old 08-23-05, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FamousJames
Houston will be in the WCf with us....not the Suns.
While the Rockets may be the 2nd best team in the West, it will take a fluke to get a Spurs-Rockets West final because of seeding. Division champions get seeds 1-3.

Most likely a Spurs-Rockets matchup would happen in the conf. semis.
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Old 08-23-05, 03:56 PM
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Raja Bell may think he can defend Manu (fat hope), but it will be irrelevant because the Suns will end up telling him to guard Tony, just like Joe Johnson had to. But he can't guard Tony (see 2003 WCF). Besides, there's no one left to guard Manu (neither Marion nor JimJax can do it). If there's no weakside shotblocking from Amare, this new edition of the Suns will fare no better than last year's Suns at defending the Spurs dribble penetration.

As for Tim, KT and Grant are guys who have had zero success guarding him, so again it falls on Amare to make a difference as the weakside help guy or the primary defender. Indeed, Steven Hunter would have given Tim more trouble than either of those two guys, and the Suns let him slip to Philly.

Will Amare turn into a real defender next season? My bet is no. Therefore, the Suns will have lost a lot of firepower but get no better defensively against the one team they need to beat. No threat.
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Old 08-23-05, 04:14 PM
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Phoenix lost alot this summer, no doubt. But their future is looking bright. Sure retaining Joe Johnson would have meant alot for this upcoming season, but does anyone in this league not named Isiah Thomas really want to have 4 maxed out guys under contract??

Phoenix did what they had to do, and though they are not improved, they made the best of their current situation. While Kurt Thomas is not half the defender that people imagine him to be, he is a guy that does give 110%, grabs boards and more importantly, will play the c position without griping (important in retaining amare). See, the suns are in sort of the same position as Miami. They have the old vet capable of perhaps leading them to the playoffs now, (though with a short window --2 -3 years) and have young stars capable of leading them in the future.

As mentioned above, the payoff might come with the draft picks Phoenix has and the money saved by not signing Joe Johnson.

-J.W.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crusian
While the Rockets may be the 2nd best team in the West, it will take a fluke to get a Spurs-Rockets West final because of seeding. Division champions get seeds 1-3.

Most likely a Spurs-Rockets matchup would happen in the conf. semis.
Well if the Spurs get the 2nd seed again this year and Houston gets the 4th or 5th (Houston WILL get either the 4th or 5th seed) then it becomes fairly easy for the Rockets to face us in the WCF.

-J.W.
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Old 08-23-05, 09:15 PM
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This article reeks of total spin job! The article should have read something like this "Good job Phoenix, now your worse off than you were last year. By replacing arguably your best all-around player in Joe Johnson and one of your best 3-point weapons in Quentin Richardson with average (at best) players, you've now assured yourself a chance to be ousted once again in the playoffs by not only San Antonio this time, but Houston, Dallas, and even Sacramento. Enjoy a decent to good regular season Suns fans".
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Old 08-23-05, 09:48 PM
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The irony is that San Antonio's ability to shoot the 3 was the MAJOR factor in their ability to squeak by the Pistons to win the championship. It was certainly the telling factor in game 5 with Horry's heroics, and big 3s in the 4th quarter of game 7 sealed the deal.
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Old 08-23-05, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TDA
This article reeks of total spin job! The article should have read something like this "Good job Phoenix, now your worse off than you were last year. By replacing arguably your best all-around player in Joe Johnson and one of your best 3-point weapons in Quentin Richardson with average (at best) players, you've now assured yourself a chance to be ousted once again in the playoffs by not only San Antonio this time, but Houston, Dallas, and even Sacramento. Enjoy a decent to good regular season Suns fans".
Seriously, if you are going for a title then what is the difference. The Suns knew that if they stood pat with the players they had they were not going to win. People keep talking about how they got worse, but the truth is that they have open up the flexibility of their roster to trades and more with these moves over the summer. Q-Rich was overpriced, Kurt T comes in at a relative bargain for a halfway decent big man in this league, and would be easy to move if they ever wanted to ship him. Signing Joe Johnson would have done nothing for them except guarantee them another exit at our hands next year while preventing the future acquisition of a big man to help Amare.

Nash's window to win is not as short as Shaq's. As Nash ages, Amare will become more dominant, so the Suns I believe are making the right moves by looking to the future.

-J.W.
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Old 08-24-05, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLogo
Seriously, if you are going for a title then what is the difference. The Suns knew that if they stood pat with the players they had they were not going to win. People keep talking about how they got worse, but the truth is that they have open up the flexibility of their roster to trades and more with these moves over the summer. Q-Rich was overpriced, Kurt T comes in at a relative bargain for a halfway decent big man in this league, and would be easy to move if they ever wanted to ship him. Signing Joe Johnson would have done nothing for them except guarantee them another exit at our hands next year while preventing the future acquisition of a big man to help Amare.

Nash's window to win is not as short as Shaq's. As Nash ages, Amare will become more dominant, so the Suns I believe are making the right moves by looking to the future.

-J.W.

I'm not criticising what the Suns did, I guess they did what they had to do. What I am criticising is the article . IMO the writer serves it up with a hot steaming pile of BS. All I'm saying is call a duck a duck. The aquisitions they have made do not equal what they have lost in talent. If you believe the hype then good for you I just don't buy it. Only time will tell if the Suns got better or will get better in years to come. I personally think they really needed to take advantage while Nash was still walking. To bad one of the players didn't want to be their, and the other got shipped off for a player with lesser talent.
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Old 08-24-05, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TDA
I'm not criticising what the Suns did, I guess they did what they had to do. What I am criticising is the article . IMO the writer serves it up with a hot steaming pile of BS. All I'm saying is call a duck a duck. The aquisitions they have made do not equal what they have lost in talent. If you believe the hype then good for you I just don't buy it. Only time will tell if the Suns got better or will get better in years to come. I personally think they really needed to take advantage while Nash was still walking. To bad one of the players didn't want to be their, and the other got shipped off for a player with lesser talent.
I agree. They still will have a huge whole to fill at the 2 position where JJohnson played unless Raja Bell is starting. FInley could of course claim that position if he signed, but that isn't a given. And are they confident w/their backup pg?
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