COMMENTARY | Although the Phoenix Suns have a clear goal of using the 2013-14 NBA season to rebuild and develop their team, it doesn't always go as planned.
Projections don't always pan out, certain players emerge as better than previously thought and teams -- gasp -- sometimes overachieve.
What concerns do the Suns have as it relates to their rebuild and the development of their team entering the 2013-14 NBA season?
BURNING OUT BLEDSOE
This isn't Major League Baseball and Eric Bledsoe isn't going to get a minutes limit, but we have to be concerned about his energy level and the wear and tear on his body. In an uptempo offense, Bledsoe won't get as many bumps and bruises as he might get in a half-court system, but his defensive intensity and his willingness to do whatever it takes makes him susceptible to those wear-and-tear injuries.
WHO'S PROTECTING THE RIM?
Marcin Gortat is a serviceable defender -- nothing more and nothing less. I'm not certain anyone outside of his family has ever referred to him as an intimidating force in the paint. Alex Len is as green as any rookie in the NBA this year and won't be making a defensive impact for quite a while. So who does that leave? If you said "nobody," you win. The Suns don't have a legitimate anchor for their defense. That's going to create a real problem and will be the No. 1 reason why the Suns won't win more than 30 games this season.
ESTABLISHING GOOD HABITS
The Suns have one of the youngest teams in the NBA and have to make sure that they're ridding themselves of the bad habits that were learned under interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. From practice to the weight room to games, new head coach Jeff Hornacek has to stay on the team to make sure it's staying on the right path. Archie Goodwin is a prime example of this. If he works hard and stays engaged, he could be a star. If he develops bad habits and surrounds himself with the wrong people, he could become Michael Beasley.
DON'T BE FORCED INTO TRADES
It seems like a foregone conclusion that Gortat is on the move. All of the necessary pieces are in place, with him on an expiring contract, the Suns going younger and a player in place to replace him. Still, the Suns need to be patient to make sure they get a trade that makes sense for them. If there isn't significant interest and teams want to wait until the free agency period to acquire him, so be it. Trading him for pennies on the dollar will just clog the roster with players who aren't going to produce.
WHAT IF THEY WIN?
It sounds strange asking this question, but it's obvious that the Suns are putting a lot of stake into the 2014 NBA draft. If the Suns overachieve and win 35 games, they're shooting themselves in the foot. Sure, it would be nice to have the kind of production necessary to win that many games, but the Suns want to change the whole atmosphere around the franchise. That means bringing in potential stars, of which a few are lurking at the top of next year's draft. The Suns really don't want another No. 5 overall pick.
Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals on the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the NBA site HoopsHabit.com.
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