COMMENTARY | The Phoenix Suns enter the 2013-14 season with the most hope they've had since Steve Nash left town. We know they're a team on the rise, as they officially scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012-13. Aside from that, they're a team in transition with lots of new faces and lots of questions to answer.
Let's take a look at the five most burning questions facing the Suns:
1. Can the Suns sneak in as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference?
Putting the "tank" argument to the side for a second, can the Suns compete enough to push for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference? While the top is extremely strong, there will be a ton of competition for the last spot. The best-case scenario for the Suns would be for Eric Bledsoe to turn into a superstar and Alex Len to develop into a top 10 center. Even if that happens, the Suns don't have enough to overcome the teams likely to battle for the last seed like the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans or Portland Trail Blazers.
2. Is Archie Goodwin the answer at shooting guard?
There's no question that the shooting-guard position has been a major liability over the past few seasons. Wesley Johnson, P.J. Tucker and Shannon Brown were quite underwhelming in 2012-13 and unless Goran Dragic moves over, there will be some quality minutes available for Archie Goodwin. Let's not forget that Goodwin averaged 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals as a freshman for the University of Kentucky. He led the SEC in free-throw attempts with 6.4 per game and is still growing as a basketball player.
3. Can Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic coexist in the backcourt?
These aren't your seven-seconds-or-less Suns anymore. As I mentioned in a previous article, the Suns paid more attention to defense in the 2012-13 season than they had in a decade. While Dragic isn't a defensive stalwart and doesn't complement Bledsoe very well, the opposite is completely accurate. Bledsoe is a defensive wizard who can shut down all but the best point guards in the world. Dragic is a playmaker who can adjust his game to make others better.
4. Will Marcin Gortat be traded by the end of the 2013-14 season?
Expiring contract? Check. Desirable piece for a contender? Check. Center to move into the starting lineup when Gortat leaves? Check. All the signs are there for Gortat to be moved by the 2013-14 trade deadline. He's a talented big man who can thrive in the right system. The Suns have Alex Len and hope he'll be ready to step into the starting lineup by the middle of the season. General manager Ryan McDonough loves to acquire future assets and moving Gortat to get some is a no-brainer.
5. Should the Suns depend on fate or shoot for the bottom?
The 2014 NBA draft is sizing up to be the most star-studded draft since the fabled 2003 class. The Suns have two first-round picks and would instantly turn around their franchise with a lucky bounce of a ping-pong ball. They could rely on fate and hope that their number gets called regardless of odds, or they can shoot for the bottom to get all the chances they can. Something tells me Suns fans would forgive the team for winning 15 games if it meant Andrew Wiggins would be in a Suns uniform for the 2014-15 season.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers Phoenix Suns practices and games for the site he founded , HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Phoenix Suns
- Goran Dragic
- Eric Bledsoe