A new season stands as a new start for the Phoenix Suns. Lasts season was less than ideal for Phoenix, who finished near the bottom of the Western Conference with a record of 25-57.
I am of the opinion not having an identity is one of the most difficult and dangerous things a team can have to deal with. There is no mistaking the identity of the Oklahoma City Thunder. No one is wondering what sort of a team the San Antonio Spurs are.
Even teams with limited success have some sort of identity. Until recently, the Milwaukee Bucks were Brandon Jennings. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers are going to miss the playoffs this year, the team will pretty much be Kobe Bryant.
Until last summer, the Suns were a team built to operate around a man who needs no introduction: Steve Nash. But since heading for L.A. in the summer only to create one of the least effective super-teams in the history of basketball, Nash left the Suns with a massive void to fill. Sure, the Gorgan Dragic era was fun, but is a one-two punch of Dragic and Luis Scola enough to make a team relevant?
The success of the Suns, and therefore their record, depends on developing an identity. Thankfully, one just walked in the door. Acquiring Eric Bledsoe from the Los Angeles Clippers was one of the best ideas anyone in Phoenix has had for a very long time. Watching Bledsoe on the Clippers was difficult because he was such a good player with no room to grow.
On a team of stars, having to play guard at the same time as Chris Paul is not an easy thing. While his knack for steals and blocks was exciting, even that was faded by the presence of Paul. Don’t think he has reached his ceiling by any means.
Aside from that, Bledsoe’s game allows him to instantly make any team better. He isn’t some ancient big man with bad knees that needs an obscure version of a pick and roll to be successful. He doesn’t need plays drawn up for his three’s. Bledsoe is an athletic guard who can dish or score when he has to. His blinding speed and surprising strength would make him a great addition to any team.
However in Phoenix, he will essentially be the team. While the Sun’s brass will need to bring him some help before the playoffs are in sight again, there is hope in Marcin Gortat. His defensive style will play well off of Bledsoe’s and if not, he could be traded to bring in a better fit.
At the end of the day, the Suns are going to go as far as Bledsoe will take them. I don’t see Phoenix in the playoff picture, barring some incredible trade out of the blue. The backup for Bledsoe just isn’t there and the West is simply too good to let anything short of excellence into the postseason.
You can expect the suns to go 36-46 this season and inch themselves closer to being relevant again. With a good offseason, they could propel themselves to hovering above .500 in the future.