Thursday night and Friday morning was a strange time to be a fan of the Suns. I personally felt betrayed because of the Amar'e Stoudemire situation.
I know, I am in a group of people who believed that Stoudemire needed to return. Not everyone believes that. One thing I am certain of is that any scenario in which Amare leaves, no matter who replaces him, is a step back for the team. The NBA is a star’s league and Amar'e should be one of their biggest stars
I am not typically a gloomy fan, but my Twitter conversations have been very negative. Things came up about putting a hit on Robert Sarver, how Sarver is purposely trying to devalue the team and alienate the fan base so he can move the team to San Diego. People mentioned lighting themselves on fire in front of US Airways Center, having a “Sarver, sell the team” rally, among other things.
I’m not even going to get into the other Phoenix news that came up (the Diamondbacks and the firing of Josh Byrnes and AJ Hinch). In the Phoenix sports ocean, as a fan, it was like being hit hard by one wave and trying to get out and recover, only to be hit with another big wave. The news about the Coyotes is a third wave. I suspect more than a few fans drowned.
Since I don’t like to stay negative with my teams (admittedly, it is a struggle right now), I am going to attempt to make sense of these different Phoenix Suns, at least at the power forward position, because as of right now, I am not sure who exactly will be the starter.
As of right now, the starters could be newly signed Hakim Warrick, the newly rewarded Channing Frye, or second-year player Earl Clark.
I’ll be honest. I know very little about this guy. Here’s what I found on Espn.com:
“Warrick is a quick power forward with long arms but a thin frame. He's a below-average defensive player because he lacks the strength to battle against big power forwards on the blocks. Despite good leaping ability, he's also a mediocre rebounder and shot blocker. He needs to improve his pick-and-roll defense and should be doing better given his quickness and length. If he did, it would help offset his lack of physicality in the paint.
“Offensively, he loves to set up at the elbows, especially on the right, and either shoot a jumper or make a quick drive and draw a foul. He'll also post up against smaller players when he gets a switch and can be effective shooting short-range hooks despite a lack of muscle. He can finish under the basket but tends to pick up traveling violations while winding up before he rises for the shot.”
I guess he is a shorter, thinner, cheaper, and less skilled version of Amare Stoudemire. Think of Amare his rookie year, and imagine that he never improved. That’s Warrick.
If he starts, it seems that he would provide more or less what Stoudemire did, but with less scoring. We could expect highlight reel dunks, pick-and-roll finishes, and a few short jumpers.
At $4 million a year, it appears that the Suns will get what they pay for—an offensive, defensive, and rebounding downgrade.
It appears that the Suns’ free agent prize this offseason is Channing Frye. I agree with the signing, but I would have preferred four years and $20 million as opposed to $30 million. However, I feel confident that Frye will not sit back and take it easy. All that I have seen and heard from him tells me he will work hard to be better.
Is Frye starting the mostly likely scenario? I doubt it because it would mean having to pick up another backup center. I think that Frye at power forward alongside Robin Lopez isn’t horrible, despite what others have told me.
If Lopez improves his offensive game, approaching something like his brother Brook, that would give the Suns a decent inside presence while Frye spreads the floor.
At the “four,” he is no worse than Stoudemire defensively and provides a little more length and size. He is not a great rebounder, but would benefit the same way that Amare did playing alongside Lopez.
In this scenario (again, I think it is unlikely), as in the scenario in which Warrick starts, Jason Richardson would have to be the primary scorer.
I am very high on Clark. I think he will be a star. I think he will be a better small forward, though, despite his ability to play the small and power forward positions.
The problem is that I think he is one year away still from being a quality starter. He has the skills. He can hit the outside shot, he is explosive with the basketball, and he can defend and rebound well already.
If he develops as he could, he would be a better version of Amare Stoudemire. This year, though, will likely be a learning process. He might rebound well and defend well, but he will probably struggle with shot selection.
Again, the primary responsibility must fall upon Jason Richardson.
Is any scenario great? I would doubt that there is any Suns fan that would agree. But, as we learned this past season, surprises can happen. A team that was supposed to struggle to make the playoffs became the third seed and was within two wins of reaching the NBA Finals.
As of right now, I foresee a team that will be lucky to make the playoffs. If they don’t, then we have the 2011 lottery and the 2011 free agency class to look forward to, just like teams like Memphis, New Jersey, and Sacramento, where hope springs eternal.
As for me, as hard as it may seem now, I’m going to try and look forward with hope. Nash makes everyone play better, so maybe Warrick will have a super year. It’s something to hope for, and I prefer to hope than to mope (even though I have been moping recently).
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