Look out … because here comes the Suns

The Phoenix Suns have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA after the All-Star break. The Suns are 11-5 since the break, but have lost three of their last five. Should fans begin to panic? Couchsideshow blogger Wade McMillin says no! Photo by: Dr. Coop / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Coming into the shortened 2011-2012 season, it didn’t seem like the Phoenix Suns would be the relevant.

Just one look at the team’s depth chart raised question of if these “old guys” could hang with the young legs of other NBA teams. I’ll admit, I wrote off the Suns when I heard Grant Hill would return as a starter and from Phoenix’s lack of offseason moves. Now, I’m not completely wrong as of right now.

If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Suns wouldn’t be dancing. But I may be eating my words in the next few weeks. Phoenix is somewhat taking the league by storm right now, posting one of the best records, so far, after the All-Star break. So I’m not a hater of the Suns anymore and residents of the desert can finally love a team that looked doomed at the beginning of the season.

After I heard that Phoenix is starting to impress, I asked myself, how? The Suns didn’t make any trades at the deadline and pretty much have the same roster they owned at the beginning of the season. And although they still look “old” on paper, it’s that veteran experience, led by coach Alvin Gentry, that has them playing with heart.

I’m not a part of the Suns’ locker room and I won’t pretend to know why this squad is playing the best basketball out of all their Western Conference counterparts right now, but I would like to believe it’s more than just having a favorable home schedule right after the All-Star break.

Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash leads the NBA in assists with 11 per game. Photo by: Jason Thompson / Flickr

The fact of the matter is that point guard Steve Nash hasn’t really lost a step despite his age. Surprisingly, Nash leads the league in assists at 11.1 per game. And he’s only upped his game, post All-Star weekend with about 15 per game. To begin the year, he was still doing his part, but now, Nash looks like the same passer he was when the point guard won MVPs.

However, Nash isn’t the scoring threat he used to be. Yes, he is second on the team with 13.1 points per game, but the Suns have turned to an unlikely presence to put it in the hole.

Enter Marcin Gortat

I received a premiere blog from Couchsideshow.com Kevin Bertram a few weeks ago all about Gortat. My former colleague is an incredible writer, so I didn’t examine the post much closer than a simple proof read, searching for puncutation mistake and perhaps some misspelling. Kevin was on to something, though, Gortat is a beast and one who is emerging as the Suns’ go-to-guy.

Not only does Gortat lead the team in scoring from the position of center with his 16.1 points per game, he also hauls in 10 boards per outing. Now, he’s no Dwight Howard, but I have to make the argument that Gortat is just as vlauble to this Phoenix Suns team as Superman is to the Orlando Magic.

And Gortat isn’t the only odd star shining for the Suns. Their other top scorers — Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Hill — are also invaluable. Dudley is becoming the player we though he would be; Hill is playing like a 30-year-old; and Frye is still the best 3-point shooting big man in the game, in my opinion.

Couchsideshow.com blogger Chuck Constantino was lucky enough to meet Phoenix Suns reserve post player Robin Lopez. Photo by: Matt McFadden

Then there is the supporting cast. Shannon Brown went off in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, scoring a career-high 32 points. Not too shabby for your sixth man. Any NBA team would be tickled pink to have an electric player like Brown. Reserve post player Markieff Morris has also been a good find, averaging seven points and almost five rebounds a game from the bench. You also have to love Phoenix’s other role players becuase they’re names that leave the average NBA fan (like me) saying, ‘oh yeah, that guy.’ Veteran Michael Redd was a solid addition this offseason and adds just one more vteran to a team that has a pretty solid mix of young and old. Then there is Hakim Warrick and Robin Lopez, both of whom earned their recognition from what they did in the college ranks.

And finally, who doesn’t know Sebastian Telfair, Ronnie Price and Josh Childress. Each one of them has a tiny claim to fame. Telfair was one of those dudes who was supposed to be the next big thing out of high school. Price is a guy who has played for several NBA teams and is an above-average spot starter if need be. And Childress used to be a force with the Atlanta Hakws.

Like I said before, I’m an average NBA fan. Heck, I would even go as far as saying that I really don’t follow the NBA at all anymore. But I have to. This all-sports website would be one-dimensional if I didn’t or know of people who could. My hay day as a fan of professional basketball was in the days of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bull’s six championships. A lot has changed since those days. But the Phoenix Suns … they’re the one team that reminds me most of 1990s basketball. That’s when the game was pure and experience, heart and togetherness won championships. I have a feeling that’s what the Phoenix Suns are all about.

So look out for the Phoenix Suns. They might not be able to run with some of the superstar, stacked teams, but they’re sure to turn some heads with a more traditional approach. And that’s the type of basketball a lot of former NBA fans, like myself, have been waiting to watch.

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