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Ball Don't Lie

Clyde Drexler thinks the rebuilding Phoenix Suns are due for ‘the fourth or fifth playoff spot’

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Clyde Drexler calls Dan Majerle's chicken finger salad the fourth-best thing he's ever eaten (Getty Images)

We weren't aware of Clyde Drexler's comments on the Phoenix Suns until our pals at Pro Basketball Talk unearthed Paul Coro's interview from Monday early on Wednesday afternoon, which is a shame for Clyde. A decade ago, his comments would have merely served as ha-ha fodder for message boards. During the last year of Drexler's career, they wouldn't have even made it that far. Now we're all dialed in, though, so we can point and laugh and laugh and point. Then laugh and point, as he pencils the Phoenix Suns in for the fourth or fifth seed in the West this season.

Here's Paul Coro's report, from AZ Central:

"They've got a real team now," Drexler said in initiating a discussion about the Suns while attending the Jerry Colangelo Basketball Hall of Fame Golf Classic in Litchfield Park last week. "They can really play. You already got (Marcin) Gortat. Now, you got (Luis) Scola. You got (Goran) Dragic. And you got (Michael) Beasley. You've got three new starters coming in who can play."

But Glide, most people are saying the Suns will not be a playoff team and ESPN's pundits figure on them being the second-worst team in the conference.

"What?!" Drexler said with slightly less shock than when Jake O'Donnell ejected him for protesting a second-quarter foul in a 1995 playoff game at Phoenix. "Are you kidding me? If they don't get the fourth or fifth playoff spot, I'm not standing before you. They're big. They're athletic. They know how to play."

The obvious, initial take is that Clyde is just saying nice things to the nice newspaperman about the local team, while appreciating the hospitality extended to him by Jerry Colangelo — the former part-owner and GM for years of the Phoenix Suns, a local legend if there ever were one. It's common to bring the dry heat regarding a team out of your jurisdiction — Drexler is currently the color analyst for the Houston Rockets — usually ending the positive vibes with a go-to "you never know what can happen in an 82-game season."

The problem is that Clyde didn't go there. He went straight to the fourth or fifth seed. And then those words went on the Internet. Again, with the pointing and laughing.

Drexler is correct in assuming that the Suns could fight for a playoff spot out west. Yes, Steve Nash has moved on to Los Angeles, Grant Hill is off to the Clippers, and Channing Frye sadly will probably have to miss the season after doctors detected an irregular heartbeat. That's some turnover.

Luckily, though, the team turned in some sound replacements. If new'ish (he started off his career as a Sun) scoring point guard Goran Dragic continues the same statistical ascension he showcased in front of Drexler last year in Houston, he could just about counter the loss of Nash; even if it's with a completely different skill set. Luis Scola was waived by Drexler's Rockets as the team desperately tried to clear space to deal for Dwight Howard, and the Suns completely lucked into a power forward who will put up sub-All-Star numbers even if he is in a bit of a decline.

And while we respect Frye's shooting and Grant Hill's all-around gifts offensively, it's not as if they were the most efficient sorts to rely upon. Michael Beasley, newly acquired, can pick up some of that 41 percent shooting-slack.

Fourth or fifth seed, though?

Last year's Memphis Grizzlies earned the fourth seed with a winning percentage that would have given them 51 wins in a full NBA season. The Clippers were right behind them with a pro-rated 50-win season. Last year's Suns managed to make it to .500, no small feat with that roster, but to bank on a 10-win jump with a new cast and crew in a West that doesn't seem like it's getting any worse?

Maybe revisit that club choice, Clyde. You might try the eight or even nine-iron to start, because a strong rip with a four or five-iron might have you overshooting the hole by a good 30 or 40 yards.

(Sports metaphors.)

We do enjoy Drexler's cheery tone, especially considering what else has come out this offseason, and the chance to talk up Phoenix's not-all-bad offseason.

We also like pointing and laughing.

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