Previous week’s games
10/30/09 SUNS 123, Warriors 101
11/01/09 SUNS 120, Timberwolves 112
11/03/09 SUNS 104, Heat 96
11/04/09 Magic 122, SUNS 100
Next week’s games
11/06/09 SUNS @ Celtics — 5:30 p.m., my45
11/08/09 SUNS @ Wizards — 11 a.m., my45
11/09/09 SUNS @ Sixers — 5 p.m., my45
11/11/09 SUNS vs Hornets — 8:30 p.m., ESPN
It’s disappointing to be writing this after the way the Suns performed against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, but all in all, as a Suns fan, I can’t complain about being 4-1 at this point in the season. There are a lot of positives to look at early in the season, and I’m going to touch base on three of them.
- Rebounding. Coming into the season, the biggest concern most Suns fans had was what the Suns were going to do on the boards. They were smashed on the boards in the preseason. It’s like they weren’t even trying out there. In the last four practices before the season started, coach Alvin Gentry really drilled into the guys about their lack of effort on the boards and it seems to have paid off, at least so far. Through the first five games of the season, Phoenix has out rebounded their opponents three times. Before the season started, I didn’t know if the Suns would out rebound the opposition three times throughout the entire season — they were that bad. In the two games the Suns have lost the battle on the boards, they’ve only lost by a combined seven rebounds. Seven rebounds?! Are you kidding me?! If the Suns can be within seven rebounds every game, I’d be ecstatic, let alone seven rebounds over two games. I believe if the Suns can keep it that close on the boards on a nightly basis, they’ll win far more than they’ll lose.
- The bench. The Suns have a reliable bench now. I don’t even remember the last time we had one of those. In years past, it’s been five starters and Leandro Barbosa for the most part. This year though, it’s different. We still have LB, who was playing solidly until an untimely wrist injury, but in addition to the Blur, we have Jared Dudley and Lou Amundson, who are all hustle. These two are a huge part of why our rebounding has been impressive thus far. Amundson and Dudley bring it every night. They do the little things that don’t show up in the box score, but every team needs. They play excellent defense and keep their players off the glass. But, the bench doesn’t end there, as Goran Dragic as been a huge surprise (although I’ve been supporting him since day one!). Dragic looks much more comfortable on the floor this year. He’s been playing under control and has confidence in his jumper. He’s putting up seven points with three assists against one turnover, while shooting over 50% from the floor and continuing to play impressive D. If Dragic can play like this all year, Steve Nash will have plenty of rest for the stretch run (and, hopefully, the playoffs).
- Channing Frye. This was a tough choice. I couldn’t decide between Nash, Grant Hill and Frye as the third most impressive player to jump out at me in this early season, but I decided to go with Frye since he’s been the biggest plus (Nash and Hill have been outstanding, but we’ve come to expect that from them, year in and year out). Frye, the former St. Mary’s High star, is having quite the homecoming. His offensive skill set and Gentry’s system have been the perfect fit for one another. His shooting touch has been simply unbelievable, as he made more three pointers in his first three games this season (13), than he’d ever made in an entire season before, and he’s on pace to knock down 246 super shots for the year. He’s also been much more than just a jump shooter this year, showing he can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket — something new to his game. Plus, there’s the spacing he provides for Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire to do their thing. I know it’s early to make awards predictions, but I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t win the Most Improved Player award this year.
So, there you have it — the three things that have really stood out to me through the first week of the NBA season. If the Suns can continue to shine in those areas and show more improvements on defense, we’re in for a very exciting year. Now to just get through this pesky road trip…