Around this time of the year, (actually, it is normally in late October when there isn't a epic clash between owners and players getting in the way) we get to see what all the brilliant pundits have to say about our favorite NBA teams. Those same people who were SURE the Miami Heat would win the NBA title now tell who will SURELY win this year and who will not.
Hey, there's no shame in being wrong. As long as people like you read predictions and power rankings from people like them (and me) they will be out there to agree with and/or scream at. It's all part of the giant entertainment machine known as the "NBA".
The book on the Phoenix Suns 2011-12 season is not in the least bit encouraging if you trust those outside the shiny and happy confines of Maricopa County. Just be prepared, Suns fans, when you read what those meanies have to say, but remember that sometimes it takes an outsider to show you the truth.
Then again, these same outsiders picked the Spurs to beat the Suns in the playoffs in 2010 and seem very, VERY bitter that Steve Nash hasn't followed their advice and fled for better opportunities elsewhere.
Here we go. Get ready for heaps of negativity...
We'll start with SB Nation's own Tom Ziller. I like Tom, he's a great writer and knows a ton about the NBA and the mirror he holds up for us might just have an ugly step-sister looking back at him (us). Or maybe, Robin Lopez will get a nice haircut and revert back to the potential All-Star we saw in 2010.
NBA Festivus: Previewing The Pacific, A Division In Chaos Of Its Own Making - SBNation.com
The Suns continue to waste the twilight of Nash's career; on what planet do Phoenix's yawning moves help take a team that missed the playoffs last season over the top? What, is Robin Lopez going to burst with production? Is Marcin Gortat thisclose to becoming the new Amar'e?
The Suns made some brutal decisions in the summer of 2010 (trading for Hedo Turkoglu, giving Josh Childress loads of money without realizing that Alvin Gentry had no intention of giving Josh Childress any burn on a team with Grant Hill and Jared Dudley, letting Amar'e walk), and Lon Babby apparently has little intention of fixing them before Nash falls apart. Thanks for nothing, man.
ESPN's John Hollinger has never been fond of the Suns, which is odd since he's a stats guy and the Suns never were a good defensive team and we all know that defense and stats don't play well together. Anyway, here's another bitter man's take on what could have and should have been and why he picked Phoenix to finish 14th in the Western Conference.
It took the Suns just two offseasons to completely dismantle a championship contender, although 2010 was the big one. By chasing away Steve Kerr and David Griffin, letting Amare Stoudemire walk, and then spending the money on Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick, they sealed their fate. A year from now, after Steve Nash and Grant Hill flee for Gotham, they'll be a 15-win team with virtually no young talent.
The Suns weren't that bad last season, but the only changes for this season appear to be downgrades. They replaced Aaron Brooks with Sebastian Telfair at backup point guard, and the ghost of Vince Carter with Shannon Brown at the 2.
On a positive note, the Suns drafted power forward Markieff Morris -- adding him to Marcin Gortat and 7-footer Robin Lopez gives the Suns a better frontcourt than in recent seasons. But with Stoudemire and Jason Richardson gone, there's just no scoring pop around Nash. Channing Frye endured a frustrating campaign last season and historically has performed much worse as a power forward, where's he's slotted for 2011-12.
By the way, I am not sure exactly what planet John writes from, but on Planet Orange (are we still saying that?), Channing Frye has been far more effective at the four than the five. Perhaps his numbers at center are superior because he was playing next to Amare or off the bench against second unit guys. That's the trouble with stats, no context.
Remember that time Chad Ford reported Amare Stoudemire was the cause of "locker room tension" and Alvin Gentry called it the, "Biggest crock of shit I've ever heard"? That had nothing to do with what Ford has to say about the Suns now but it's a fun story to relive.
NBA - 2011 offseason grades for every team - ESPN
The rest of the team, however, is a mess. Owner Robert Sarver made most of the quagmire himself. When he wasn't ripping up a successful roster, he was alienating players this summer with his hardline stance during the lockout. Sarver has since come out claiming he was actually a dove -- a reversal that only a politician could pull off with a straight face.
To be fair to these guys, when you look at the Suns objectively, which is hard to do when you watch them as closely as we do, they don't compare very well to a lot of other teams. Nash's ability to stay healthy and productive this season is very much a question mark and without Nash this team will be in serious trouble.
It's not that the players the Suns have are bad, per se, it's just that the rest of the conference is so good. The 2012 Suns role players with the 2007 Suns stars is a championship team. Too bad it doesn't work that way.
Here's a few more more preseason power rankings that aren't too high on the Suns:
NBA Power Rankings: Mavericks start out season on top | ProBasketballTalk
They were able to keep Grant Hill and pair him with Steve Nash in a remake of the Over The Hill Gang.
NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams - FOX Sports on MSN
Steve Nash will keep the Suns entertaining and competitive, but there's just not enough around him to pull out the close games. By the mid-March trading deadline, it could be evident that it's finally time to gut the team.