Did The Phoenix Suns Stumble On A Renaissance?

Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Two games is a tiny sample size that does not mean the Phoenix Suns are fixed, but they are putting the pieces in the right spots to become the best basketball team they can be.

When Alvin Gentry made changes to the line-ups and adjusted the rotation it seemed, at least on the surface, as a band-aid to a larger looming issue with the team lacking a true superstar type player. In this situation the team cannot change the meal they have on their plate, but they can move the sides around the plate and adjust the serving sizes to make it more appealing.

That in a sense is what we all did on Thursday during Thanksgiving and what Gentry did a few days before that moving Shannon Brown and Markieff Morris into the starting line-up.

The team is learning they are about the sum of the parts and not the parts individually. Coming into the season the talk was about how Michael Beasley and Goran Dragic could be stars for the team, even 20+ point scorers on a nightly basis. The talk was pre-mature and proving to be false.

Those parts interestingly enough can be moved around the plate with ease to make the right combination depending on the need or preference. When they need to go small, add some energy, or get tougher they just look across the bench for a substitution as easily as anyone can look across the dinner table and say, "pass the stuffing."

As the season has progressed the parts are becoming more and more interchangeable. On any given night the final five on the court can be different and equally as effective as the previous group. It is not about who starts for this team, more about who is capable of finishing the game at the time.

By no means are these Phoenix Suns on the same level as those mid-00's Detroit Pistons teams that were able to play at a high level and win a Championship with nine different players playing 20 minutes a night and balanced shooting down the roster, but they are building off of a similar blueprint.

Now that was a team built around an elite defense and situational scoring. The Suns are not elite on the defensive end, but has gotten pretty good at the situational shooting.

Time will tell if the Suns have one All-Star on their roster let alone the five that the Pistons featured. Again, this is not a comparison, but rather an observation of what this team can be if they gain consistency and the focus required out of their key players nightly.

At the very least the bench is playing at a high enough level to mask the inefficiencies of the starters alleviating the pressure from Beasley who has been struggling this season. He is the wildcard in this renaissance for the Suns and the barometer on whether or not they can break through the top as a team.

Beasley is the closest thing to a star this team has and is not playing at a high level, but his struggles are being masked by the great play of Tucker. The former D-League and EuroLeague player has come in and proved to be a more valuable commodity than two top five picks at his position.

Versatility stretches into the the paint as Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O'Neal, Luis Scola, and Morris are becoming interchangeable parts on both ends of the floor.

Of the four Scola has struggled the most this season, but he plays hard every play and stretches the defense with his 18-foot jumper that is becoming automatic. When someone is not performing they have someone waiting in the wings to come in and take their spot.

That is the evolution of the offense that at one point never played their bench to a unit that has been in the top five of the league over the past few seasons. Gaining consistency and executing will help along the way, which is why playing the likes of the Blazers and the Hornets helps them, but does not define them.

Can they play at this level every night? Yes, that is a will not a skill, but in the end it comes down to how effective can it be against the upper echelon of the NBA, not just those floating just below or just under the Suns at this point in the season.

Don't call it a revolution, but it is a renaissance in Suns basketball, an era defined by depth, execution, and playing well rounded basketball.

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