PHOENIX - MAY 29: Fans of the Phoenix Suns cheer against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 29, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Playoffs!? We're talking about, playoffs!? Are we already sipping too much of the orange Kool-Aid or is there some legitimacy to writer Cody Ulm's prediction? Find out for yourself:
Yeah, I said it. Wanna fight about it?
This period of time from April to mid-October was set aside as a recognized period of mourning for the inevitable departure of one Steve Nash. But what did the Suns front office do instead? Oh, just having their best collective off-season since they signed the man who would go onto win two MVP awards in the valley of the sun.
Instead of rolling over and admitting defeat, the Suns brass went out and proved to the entire National Basketball Association that Phoenix is still an attractive destination for big name free agents in the post-Nash era.
First, they went out and inked (see what I did there?) a 6'10" 23-year-old athletic freak of nature with legitimate 20 PPG potential just waiting to be tapped. Then, they proved that they aren't above admitting their own errors by signing one of the top young point guards in the game a year and a half after they mistakenly gave him away. And finally, to top it all off, they came out of almost nowhere to steal one of the most underrated big men in the game for pennies on the dollar thanks to an amnesty bidding auction.
Oh, did I also mention they snagged the man who averaged the second most assists in collegiate basketball last season to run back up point? Is my prediction beginning to look a little less crazy now?
Yes, losing Nash, or he who-must-not-be-named as he's now known, will surely affect the stats of players like Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley. But Nash for Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and four draft picks is a swap that I'll do everyday of the week and twice on Sundays (NBA on ABC, baby!).
I realize that some fans, like SB Nation Arizona's own Bryan Gibberman, are already questioning how all these pieces fit into place. But to those folks I have two words of advice: who cares? Stockpile young talent for cheap and worry about the rest later. A trade-driven league like the NBA is all about assets and now the Suns have that much-needed nucleus that is one superstar away from being a perennial top-seeded threat (You hear that Dwight?).
Sure, Eric Gordon would have been the cherry on top but the fact that he wanted to come here alone should speak volumes to Suns fans. I mean, c'mon gang: top notch athletes WANT to come here! If that's not a moral victory, then I don't what is.
As the roster stands now, the Suns are still that one solid shooting guard away from having their most well-rounded roster since the 2009-2010 season. But just because they're lacking in one department doesn't mean they aren't a legitimate top eight threat in the west.
This Suns team will be like anything fans have seen in years, with an abundance of big men to attack the rim. Gortat and Scola's craftiness will force defenders to be accountable, allowing weapons like Dudley, Dragic and Beasley (who seems primed to finally break out) to attack at will. Off the bench, head coach Alvin Gentry has options in both the power and finesse categories, with Markieff Morris and Frye each offering a particular set of skills; skills that make them a nightmare for teams with a undersized bench.
Now I now that last statement isn't as intimidating since Liam Neeson isn't saying it, but even at this current juncture, I'd pick the Suns to make the playoffs over the likes of Utah, Houston, New Orleans (if you fancy them legitimate) and Minnesota. Resign Shannon Brown or add Courtney Lee to the mix and you're looking at something closer to a six seed.
I know what you're thinking: "Damn, how many banners does one get for earning the sixth best record in the western hemisphere of the united states?" Well, rhetorical smart ass voice in my head, the answer in none. But allow me to answer you're question with one of my own: "When is the last time you were this excited to watch a Suns team in action?"