Previous week’s games
04/01/2011 SUNS 111, Clippers 98
04/03/2011 Spurs 114, SUNS 97
04/05/2011 Bulls 97, SUNS 94
04/06/2011 SUNS 108, Timberwolves 98
Upcoming week’s games
04/08/2011 SUNS @ Hornets, 5 p.m., My45
04/10/2011 SUNS @ Mavericks, 4:30 p.m., My45
04/11/2011 SUNS vs Timberwolves, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
04/13/2011 SUNS vs Spurs, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
With just four games remaining in the 2010-11 NBA season for the Phoenix Suns, let’s focus on some of the highlights from this past season. In a season as disappointing as this one has been, it’s hard to find anything to be positive about, but there is always something. Three really stood out for me.
1. Trading Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark to the Orlando Magic for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and a first-round pick.
This one is a no-brainer. This trade basically came out of nowhere and was quite the shocker. It didn’t take long before Suns fans were begging for Turkoglu to be traded, although no one thought that was really possible. And then we were hit with this. The Suns came up with a trade in which they moved a bad contract, received a quality and underused big, and they actually received a first-round draft pick.
Sure, it was tough losing Jason Richardson for whatever is left of Vince Carter, but the addition of Marcin Gortat was and will continue to be huge. Gortat gives the Suns something they’ve lacked since, well, basically forever. He’s a true center and an inside force. He plays solid defense, rebounds really well and has already developed a nice mid-range jumper.
This trade gave the Suns a center for the present and the future. Plus, the first-round pick that allowed them flexibility in the Aaron Brooks/Goran Dragic trade. Huge win for the Suns.
2. Marcin Gortat vs. the Boston Celtics
On January 28, Gortat had his coming out party in dominating fashion against the Boston Celtics. Sure, the Polish Hammer had already had a few solid games since joining Planet Orange, but this was on national TV against the beasts from the East.
In probably the best defensive performance of the year from Phoenix, Gortat led the way with a then career-high 19 points, 17 rebounds, one block and a plus/minus of +14 for the game. Heck, he even hit a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first half.
This ended up being just one of many double-doubles for Gortat, but for me it’s the most memorable, and it appears to be something Suns fans can get used.
3. Grant Hill vs. Father Time
Anytime Grant Hill does anything, we are reminded that he’s 38 years old. At a point, it gets a little ridiculous, but then you think about it. It is absolutely remarkable that Hill continues to perform the way he does night in and night out given his age and history with injuries.
Hill is finishing up his fourth year with the Suns, and somehow he has continued to get better and better, with this year being by far his best in my eyes. His numbers have remained basically the same with his rebounding taking a slight dip, but it’s the impact he has on his opponent’s stat line that’s so impressive.
Hill has gone from what I considered a slightly above-average defender to a great defender. Whether it be a point guard or power forward, night in and night out, Hill defends the opposing team’s best player and more often than not causes them to struggle mightily.
Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin and Monta Ellis are just a few of the big-name offensive players that have had awful nights when trying to score on Hill. Clippers rookie Blake Griffin has embarrassed the opposition all season long. When going against Phoenix, Griffin can be seen pouting around the perimeter.
At the very least, Hill should make the league’s All-Defensive Second Team, even though he probably deserves First. Alvin Gentry says it during every postgame press conference, and he’s right. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. Either way, it’s been a pleasure watching Hill shut offensive players down.
So, while this season has been a disappointment overall, it has had a few bright spots. The acquisitions of Gortat and Brooks should give the Suns some flexibility and options moving forward. I’ve still enjoyed this team, and I’m excited to see what improvements GM Lance Blanks and company can make over the summer.
Previous week’s games
01/14/2011 SUNS 115, Blazers 111
01/17/2011 SUNS 129, Knicks 121
01/19/2011 SUNS 106, Cavs 98
Upcoming week’s games
01/21/2011 SUNS @ Wizards, 5 p.m., My45
01/22/2011 SUNS @ Pistons, 5:30 p.m., My45
01/24/2011 SUNS @ 76ers, 5 p.m., My45
01/26/2011 SUNS vs Bobcats, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
About a week-and-a-half ago, the Phoenix Suns appeared to be dead. They were coming off a blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets in which the team played with little or no effort and they were sitting six games below .500 with a 15-21 record. Today, the Suns find themselves in the middle of a five-game East Coast road trip and things are starting to look up.
The Suns, now winners of four straight, have moved up to the ninth seed in the West and are currently making a hard-fought push to get into the playoff picture. Their record has jumped to 19-21 and can continuing improving with a win tonight against a bad Wizards team.
Looking ahead at the upcoming schedule, the Suns have the chance to run the table on this trip and earn to a winning record for the first time in a very long time. In fact, the rest of the month is pretty favorable for Phoenix. If the Suns can continue to beat the teams they should beat, the momentum they build could carry over and turn into wins against some tougher opponents.
Despite the horrible stretch of basketball this team recently had, the Suns may actually be in a pretty good spot. The three teams above Phoenix in the playoff race are such big question marks that the Suns could surpass them all before the 82-game regular season is through. This will require obvious improvements from Planet Orange, but it’s entirely possible.
Portland, as resilient as they are, could easily start to slide as their knee injuries continue to pile up. Denver remains sidetracked by Carmelo Anthony trade talk, and if they trade him, which I think they will, they’ll have a tough time recovering and finishing the season strong. Then there’s New Orleans, who I haven’t favored all year.
Sure, the Suns have still had their issues, like letting Cleveland back into the game Wednesday night, but overall this team is starting to come around. The guys are finally starting to mesh. Coach Gentry seems to have a solid rotation. Each guy knows his role.
Marcin Gortat is coming around. Vince Carter is giving max effort, picking up rebounds and dishing out assists even when he isn’t scoring. Goran Dragic is becoming more aggressive. Channing Frye has found his stroke and picked up his D. Jared Dudley continues to get better and better. And Steve Nash and Grant Hill still amaze us every night.
Planet Orange is starting to show signs of life. Basketball is fun again.
Previous week’s games
11/26/2010 SUNS 116, Clippers 108
11/28/2010 Nuggets 138, SUNS 133
12/02/2010 SUNS 107, Warriors 101
Upcoming week’s games
12/03/2010 SUNS vs Pacers, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
12/05/2010 SUNS vs Wizards, 6 p.m., My45
12/07/2010 SUNS @ Blazers, 8 p.m., My45
12/08/2010 SUNS vs Grizzlies, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
Next Friday, December 10, the Phoenix Suns will host their third annual tweetup presented by Discount Tire when the team faces off against the visiting Portland Trailblazers.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years and are unaware, a tweetup is an event where people from the popular social networking site Twitter meet up for a gathering.
Fans that purchase tickets to the tweetup get great seats (in group section with other tweeps!) at a discounted price and a free T-shirt. The event will also allow fans to enter US Airways Center early to watch the Suns warm up as well as be part of a “Twitter tailgate” in which fans are able to get food and drink specials at discount prices.
Throughout the game, Twitter contests will give fans the opportunity to win some sweet Suns prizes. The fun doesn’t stop there though, because after the game, fans attending the tweetup will get to join JMZ creator and Suns forward Jared Dudley for a private Q&A session.
After attending last year’s tweetup, I definitely recommend this to all Suns fans. It’s a great chance to meet other Suns fans (some that travel from out of state to make the game) and get the rare opportunity to ask an NBA player your very own question.
While Jared Dudley is the scheduled guest for this year’s Q&A, you never know who else may show up. During last year’s tweetup, former Sun Amar’e Stoudemire was the post-game guest, but surprise appearances were made by Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, broadcaster and Suns legend Eddie Johnson and Dudley. While we don’t know for sure, I’d be shocked if there wasn’t another Suns-related speaker talking to fans after the game.
If there is one Suns game you’re going to attend this year, this is the one. I’ll be there, so come hang out and say hi to your favorite Suns blogger.
For more information regarding the Phoenix Suns third annual tweetup, including ticket purchasing, please visit Suns.com.
The skinny on ‘Skinny’
Be on the lookout for the next issue of the DPJ magazine (out in January), as I will have an exclusive interview with one of the new faces on Planet Orange, Hakim Warrick.
Previous week’s games
11/05/2010 SUNS 123, Grizzlies 118
11/07/2010 SUNS 118, Hawks 114
11/08/2010 Grizzlies 109, SUNS 99
Upcoming week’s games
11/12/2010 SUNS vs Kings, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
11/14/2010 SUNS @ Lakers, 7:30 p.m., My45
11/15/2010 SUNS vs Nuggets, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
11/17/2010 SUNS @ Heat, 5 p.m., My45
11/18/2010 SUNS @ Magic, 6 p.m., TNT
Seven games into the 2010-11 season and the Phoenix Suns are a game below .500 with a record of 3-4. This has caused some people to overreact — so much that ridiculous trade speculation involving Steve Nash has even sprung up, granted none of that talk has come from the Suns (or any other NBA franchise for that matter), but it has come up regardless.
I’m not going to talk about any of that. The Suns are going to be fine. If you’ve watched any of the Suns’ first few games, the bright spots are there. This team has lots of potential. One of the brightest spots of this early season has been the impressive play of newcomer Hakim Warrick.
The season is very young, but it’s already clear to see that Warrick is the perfect fit for the Suns. He’s long, quick and extremely athletic. Plus, he loves to dunk — something all Suns fans love to see. His game is tailor-made for Alvin Gentry’s offense and Warrick is getting the chance to prove that.
The former Syracuse standout has been solid off the bench. Warrick is putting up 12 points a game on 62% shooting from the field while pulling down five boards a game. He leads the team in free throws, highlight reels and facial hair.
“Helicopter,” as he’s sometimes referred to as, is excellent in the pick-and-roll, which has been the Suns’ bread-and-butter play for years. The chemistry is already starting to develop between Warrick and Nash and fellow point guard Goran Dragic, and is sure to get better as the season progresses and the team continues to gel.
Early rumblings from fans have suggested that Warrick should be moved into the starting lineup to replace another newcomer, Hedo Turkoglu. This could be a good move, but I think it may be a little early in the season for a change like this. The bench is playing great and Warrick is a huge part of that success. Either way, I doubt this matters much to Warrick. The way he carries himself, you can tell he’s a great team player that is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Suns pick up some victories.
Warrick is quickly becoming a fan favorite with Suns fans not only because of all the posters he’s making out of defenders on the court, but also through his interaction with fans on Twitter. He’s not quite Jared Dudley (yet), but he’s quite interactive with fans and seems to be very down to earth. He’s even been known to discuss his frustration while playing Call of Duty: Black Ops with some of his followers.
Warrick will continue to win fans over with his impressive play the more they get to see him. He is a prime example of why Suns fans need not worry: He’s part of a core group of guys that are only going to get better the more than play with each other. I’m excited. All other Suns fans should be as well.
Be sure to follow Hakim Warrick on Twitter: @hdubb21.
Previous week’s games
10/29/2010 Lakers 114, SUNS 106
11/03/2010 Spurs 112, SUNS 110
Upcoming week’s games
11/05/2010 SUNS vs Grizzlies, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
11/07/2010 SUNS @ Hawks, 3 p.m., My45
11/08/2010 SUNS @ Grizzlies, 6 p.m., My45
At 1-3, the Phoenix Suns’ record certainly doesn’t look too good, however, when considering the four tough teams Phoenix has played so far, the record really isn’t all that bad. The Suns have had their problems, sure. The biggest question is how does Hedo Turkoglu fit in with the team, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Phoenix has also had some bright spots as well; the play of Goran Dragic and Hakim Warrick quickly come to mind.
I’ll start with Hedo. Coach Alvin Gentry must figure a way to get him going. Through through games, the “Turkish MJ” has been unimpressive to say the least. Turkoglu is averaging eight points, three rebounds and one assist in 24 minutes of play. That’s not going to cut it for a guy making eight figures.
It’s more then just Hedo’s numbers that are disturbing. It’s his effort — it doesn’t seem quite there. He’s slow on transition and way too hesitant to make a move with the ball. He has the ability to get to the rim against most guys defending him, but he hasn’t. He’s shown brief flashes of this, but not nearly enough. Against the Spurs on Wednesday, he had Dejuan Blair guarding him and took jump shots. That isn’t what Suns fan want to see.
I’m certainly not ready to give up on Hedo yet, and I think he’ll eventually come around, but a move to the bench may be in order. If anything, a move to the bench may motivate him. He’ll get to play with the ball a little more and be a leader of the second unit. In addition, Turkoglu on the bench means Nash gets a solid pick-and-roll option in the starting five in the form of Warrick.
Enough of the bad and on to the good. Dragic has been ridiculous so far this season. He’s putting up 10 points to go with just under five assists with about two turnovers (a turnover-to-assist ratio of 2.7!) in a mere 15 minutes per game. The only issue there is how few minutes he’s playing. Dragic has yet to log 20 minutes in a game, and that’s no good. Gentry must find more time for him.
I know Steve Nash is a two-time MVP, but at some point you may have to sit him more for the sake of getting Dragic more playing time. I know this may put Gentry in a tough spot, but when Goran is clicking, you have to stick with him. At the very least, the two should get some time together. Good things happened when they shared the floor together last season.
I doubt this will be a problem for long, as I fully expect Gentry to begin finding more time for El Dragon, especially with Nash’s recent comments on having tired legs at the end of the Spurs game. More playing time early in the game for Goran means a fresher Nash to end games. It’s a win-win for the Suns.
Finally, I have to mention the play of Warrick. Dude has been solid this year. He’s great in the pick-and-roll and fights for rebounds. He has crazy leaping ability and somehow seems to extend the length of his arms. I swear every time he takes off for a dunk he turns into Inspector Gadget. He appears to be too far from the rim but simply shouts, “Go-go gadget arms,” and extends his arms to complete the play. His contract is going to turn into a real steal.
I’m sure it’ll take a little more tinkering from Gentry, but eventually this team will figure things out. The talent is there. The Suns are in good shape. No worries, despite the rough start.
I just want to briefly comment on Jared Dudley’s contract extension. This was obviously the right move. Dudley clearly wanted to be here, and the Suns wanted to keep him. I’m very impressed with how the Suns front office was able to get this done. Hats off to Lon Babby, Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver — this is a solid move for the future.
Suns go green
Tonight the Suns will go green when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. US Airways Center will be powered by renewable energy courtesy of APS. The energy saved will equal the amount of energy required to power 3,000 Arizona homes for a week. Throughout the night, various videos will play during stops in play with the Gorilla giving tips to fans on how to go green.