Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Offseason Overview: Phoenix Suns

You gotta give the Suns management a lot of credit. Unlike the Dallas Mavericks, who are still figuring out that scoring a million points a game will get you into the playoffs, but not much else, the Suns have spent the whole offseason shoring up their defense and reshaping their high-flying roster. Three of the Big Four are still there, but they are now surrounded by a deep roster filled with experience, fundamentals, and stability. Imports include Kurt Thomas, James Jones, Boris Diaw, and Brian Grant. Will they fill the void left by Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson? You’ve gotta like their odds …

The Stud: Shawn Marion, SF
Marion, like fellow all-around stud Andrei Kirilenko, is an enigma. The third option on his team, many casual NBA fans may barely know his name, but fantasy players know that he’s true gold for your roster. He’ll help you everywhere but in assists, and he’s a huge plus in rebounds and the defensive categories. He’s no worse than a mid-first round pick, and is an incredibly safe choice.

The Support: Amare Stoudamire, F/C
Stoudamire cemented himself as a true fantasy force last year, scoring 26 ppg, grabbing nearly 9 rebounds, blocking 1.6 shots, and shooting an absurd 55.9% from the field. He’s earned discussion right alongside Shaq and Yao Ming as far as who’s the first true center picked in your fantasy draft, and shouldn’t slip out of the middle of the first round.

The Supporting Support: Steve Nash, PG
The Suns counted on Nash to be a true team leader last year, and they weren’t let down, as he transformed the team into a tru regular season powerhouse, making everyone else better and putting up grat numbers himself. He’s a true PG in every sense, leading the league in assists, and contributing in three’s, steals, and FT%. The stat that put Nash over the top last year, though, was his 50.2% shooting from the field, almost unheard of from the PG spot. He’s in the running for top PG taken.

The Sleeper: Kurt Thomas, PF
The most important thing to remember with Thomas this year is that he’s lost his center eligibility. Between that and the fact that he’s on a totally stacked team, Thomas might fall way off a lot of draft boards. Remember, though, that on a high-flying team like the Suns, there are a lot of rebounds to be had. Thomas set a career-high in boards last year with 10.4, and that number could go up if he gets enough PT in Phoenix. He’s worth a mid-late round pick.

The Slacker: Jim Jackson, G/F
As far as your fantasy team is concerned, Jackson does one thing and one thing only – shoot three pointers. He’s not worth a roster spot until late in the year, where certain statistical categories dictate your roster more than overall talent. At that point he’ll be worth a spot on someone’s team, but for the first few months of the season you can find better options.

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