NBA / Oct 27, 2010 / 2:00 pm

The NBA championship window has closed for the Phoenix Suns

Grant Hill (photo. Keith Allison)

Grant Hill (photo. Keith Allison)

As the NBA regular season tips off, we preview the upcoming eight-month stretch with our “Highs and Lows” system — predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team.

Added: Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress, Gani Lawal

Lost: Amar’e Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson, Jarron Collins

Ceiling: 5th-6th seed, Western Conference
They’re not done. Although the Suns lost more talent than they acquired over the summer, they still have Steve Nash (16.5 ppg, 11.0 apg), still have some explosive guards in Jason Richardson and reserve Goran Dragic, still have three-point shooters in Channing Frye and Jared Dudley, and still have a versatile ball-handling defensive wing in Grant Hill. The Suns also brought in two athletic big men who fit the system in Hakim Warrick and rookie Gani Lawal … For years the Suns failed to get Nash a decent backup, but now they almost have two: Dragic is coming off his playoff breakout, and offseason pickup Hedo Turkoglu can run the point and take some ball-handling responsibility away from Nash when they’re both on the floor. Using Dragic and Hedo effectively to keep Nash fresher for a playoff run makes the Suns better … Robin Lopez was limited to just 51 games last season due to a back injury. If he stays healthy this year, he gives the Suns some size and muscle in the paint to better adjust when games slow down.

Basement: Entertaining Lottery team
It’s over. At least for now. Soon after they gave the L.A. Lakers a spirited battle in the Western Conference Finals, the Suns saw their slim championship window slam shut when Amar’e signed with the Knicks. Hakim Warrick is an occasional highlight-maker replacement, but he’s not a star. Nash is credited with making others around him look good, but he’d have to be Jesus to make Warrick look like Amar’e … You could chalk up Turkoglu’s down year in Toronto (11.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.1 apg) to a multitude of off-court factors, or you can admit that he’s an old 31 and got exposed playing outside of Orlando’s system that was made for him … Speaking of old, Nash is 36, and Grant Hill is 38 … At one point during Phoenix’s opening night loss to Portland, this was the lineup they had on the floor: Dragic, Childress, Dudley, Warrick and Frye. That’s not good. This team is going to be overly reliant on Nash — as evidenced by him scoring 26 points (with 9 turnovers) and Phoenix still losing. The Suns were 7-4 in the 11 games where Nash scored 25-plus points last year (including playoffs), but now he is the team’s only arguably elite scorer.

*** *** ***

10/26 — Boston Celtics
10/26 — Miami Heat
10/25 — Los Angeles Lakers
10/24 — New Orleans Hornets
10/23 — Cleveland Cavaliers
10/22 — Dallas Mavericks
10/21 — Philadelphia 76ers
10/20 — Minnesota Timberwolves
10/20 — Orlando Magic
10/19 — Oklahoma City Thunder
10/19 — Detroit Pistons
10/15 — Golden State Warriors
10/12 — Chicago Bulls
10/12 — San Antonio Spurs
10/5 — Toronto Raptors
10/1 — Sacramento Kings
9/28 — Atlanta Hawks
9/27 — Portland Trail Blazers

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  • Michorizo

    The Suns should trade Nash to New York

  • Joe’s Momma

    I don’t know if there is a championship window for teams that play no defense. I would say their best and only chance was last year. All those D’antoni years were smoke and mirrors.

    Alvin Gentry did a terrific job last year, but in reality they over-achieved.

    With zero rebounding and even worse defense this year, the Suns will drop out of the playoff chase unless Steve Nashty puts them on his back and carries them to the playoffs, because they have no one else capable of doing so.

  • rban

    The window was never open.

  • the cynic

    This team is going to be terrible. They could probably make the playoffs if they were in the eastern conference

  • Mess

    Other than 4 or 5 years ago (MAYBE), could you argue that the window was ever even open?

  • AZ

    LOL….Sh!t was really never open with Nash at the Point.

  • Rizwan

    You guys dont have any idea what you’re talking about. The Suns have been contenders for the past 5 years. If certain things would have gone their way, they would have had at least 2 championships in this era. Those things in order:

    If Joe Johnson hadnt been injured in the 2005 playoffs.
    If Amare wasnt injured in 2006
    If they didnt sign Marcus Banks in 2007 and kept Rajon Rondo.
    If they’d traded Shawn Marion for Kevin Garnett when the chance was there, instead of a ridiculous Shaq trade
    If Robert Horry hadnt hipchecked Steve Nash, the players wouldnt have been suspended, and they surely would have knocked off Cleveland in the finals.

    Sure, people will say ifs and buts from another Suns fan but you gotta have luck when you win titles. I’m counting 2005 as potential and 2007 as definite wins for Phoenix.

    Dont you guys watch the game? Yes, Phoenix didnt play much defense but that doesnt mean they werent contenders. How much defense would it have taken to defeat Cleveland in 2007. With Marion on LeBron, theres not other threat. I’m sick and tired of people saying the Suns had no chance of winning. Things just didnt go their way.

    As of now, yes the best the Suns can hope for is 4/5 seed and hope for a deep run. However, it would be disastrous if they miss the playoffs. Why? Hedo. That contract is atrocious and a lottery team should not be burdened with that. But there’s Robert Sarver for you. The single biggest reason the Suns didnt win any rings.

  • AZ

    Anyways, Smoke and Mirrors.

  • Joe’s Momma

    If DWade didn’t jizz all over the Dallas defense, Dallas would have a title

    If Bynum isn’t injured in the 08 Finals, the Lakers would already have a 3-peat

    If Jordan never retired (the second time) the Bulls would have 4-peated

    If Jordan never retired (the first time) the Bulls would have 8-peated

    If Portland doesn’t choke away a 15 pt 4th quarter lead, they have a title

    If Sean Elliot doesn’t hit that three pointer with his foot 2 centimeters away from the out of bounds line, the Knicks would have a title.

    See, I can do it to.

    What if, what if, what if… its easy to say after the fact. The Suns were a good team, but for them to win a title, they needed to play some defense. Go back and check all the teams who have titles, one thing they have in common is that they focused at least half their efforts on defense.

    The Suns played an exciting brand of ball, but not championship ball.

  • Ian

    rizwan
    im with you on some of the cases
    in 06 with amare they beat dallas but in 05 with joe johnson (the ultimate playoff performer as we saw last season) they still lose it was a 4-1 series theres no way joe johnson swings that series.
    in 07 they were still 2-3 with amare in the lineup. who says u beat the jazz after that?? you said it best with the ifs and buts line. its not like u were playin the spurs in the finals. you think you beat detroit in 05?? with super johnson nah bro.

    ” Sure, people will say ifs and buts from another Suns fan but you gotta have luck when you win titles ”
    thats not some luck thats the luckiest team ever type luck if you guys pull all that off. why didnt the full team beat the spurs in 08? comon you are exaggerating a bit like nash did after the horry check.

  • Ian

    joe
    let me throw some of my ifs hehehe sounds fun
    if manu doesnt foul dirk and fisher doesnt hit the .03 the spurs 5 peat. hell if duncan doesnt get injured they win back to back in 99 and 00 (in 99 beatin the still playin jordan heheh)
    see rizwan thinking about it the spurs had worse luck because it was only a play here and there that cost us 3 titles 00 (a chance at back to back) 03 fisher shot 05 manu foul. not some missing players not some miss trades not some ref calls (it was a foul on barry in 08) just two plays cost us two titles.

  • Joe’s Momma

    @ Ian,

    You are not allowed to show me up in what if!

    LOL @ SA winning 00 against MJ. I appreciate you remembering that MJ doesn’t retire.

    touche my friend, touche.

    08 was a foul on Barry, I can give you that one.

  • Joe’s Momma

    ** I mean, Barry was fouled in 08

  • Ian

    lol in 99 we beat jordan. he doesnt make the finals in 00 he losses in the conf finals to the pacers finally and retires after that for good no washington for his airness.

  • Ian

    oh and forgot in our what ifs combined shaq doesnt win a title. 00 spurs 01 portland 02 sacramento (what if the refs werent in to screw the kings) 03 04 05 06 07 spurs and the lakers threepeat 08 09 10 that gives kobe 3 to shaqs 0

  • KB8toSG8

    Was it ever open?

  • http://knol.google.com/k/anonymous/-/1btmvc0q8ruu5/1 Harriet Harman

    You guys dont have any idea what you’re talking about. The Suns have been contenders for the past 5 years. If certain things would have gone their way, they would have had at least 2 championships in this era. Those things in order:

    If Joe Johnson hadnt been injured in the 2005 playoffs.
    If Amare wasnt injured in 2006
    If they didnt sign Marcus Banks in 2007 and kept Rajon Rondo.
    If they’d traded Shawn Marion for Kevin Garnett when the chance was there, instead of a ridiculous Shaq trade
    If Robert Horry hadnt hipchecked Steve Nash, the players wouldnt have been suspended, and they surely would have knocked off Cleveland in the finals.

    Sure, people will say ifs and buts from another Suns fan but you gotta have luck when you win titles. I’m counting 2005 as potential and 2007 as definite wins for Phoenix.

    Dont you guys watch the game? Yes, Phoenix didnt play much defense but that doesnt mean they werent contenders. How much defense would it have taken to defeat Cleveland in 2007. With Marion on LeBron, theres not other threat. I’m sick and tired of people saying the Suns had no chance of winning. Things just didnt go their way.

    As of now, yes the best the Suns can hope for is 4/5 seed and hope for a deep run. However, it would be disastrous if they miss the playoffs. Why? Hedo. That contract is atrocious and a lottery team should not be burdened with that. But there’s Robert Sarver for you. The single biggest reason the Suns didnt win any rings.