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NBA Phoenix Suns

5 Keys To The Phoenix Suns’ 2014 NBA Title Hopes

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5 Keys To The Phoenix Suns' 2014 NBA Title Hopes

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Barry Gossage - Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns have played better than expected this season. The team is currently 31-20 and in seventh place in the Western Conference.

Critics believed that Phoenix was going into tanking-mode for the 2013-14 season after the team traded away its starting center, Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards. But it seems like critics were wrong. Phoenix plays in the toughest conference and has been finding ways to succeed. The Suns are an extremely young team that deserves respect as these young guys have been playing at an extremely high level.

The Suns are lucky to have Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Both players have become stars playing in Phoenix, and the team's youth movement has re-invented Suns basketball.

Ryan McDonough was named the Suns new general manager back in May 2013. He has made a lot of changes around with the franchise, and bringing him in was the first move to success for Phoenix.

US Airways Center has never raised a championship banner. For the first time in a long time, the Suns are looking back on track. Phoenix is now a young team with championship potential in the future. This article will examine the 5 keys to the Suns' NBA title hopes this season.

Jack Bolesta is a Writer for RantSports.com Follow him on Twitter @JackBolesta, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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5. Strong Paint Presence

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Scott Hallern - Getty Images

The Western Conference is filled with great big men and dominant frontcourts. The Suns' title hopes will need help from their big men. Phoenix's current starting center is Miles Plumlee who is averaging 9.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Phoenix is also 14th in rebounding averaging 43.3 boards per game, which has led to the Suns getting outrebounded frequently this season. The Suns' big men need to control the paint more and become more dominant rebounders if they want to capture the 2014 NBA title.

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4. Goran Dragic

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Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Goran Dragic aka "The Dragon" has become a star playing for Phoenix this season.

He was playing behind Eric Bledsoe before Bledsoe was sidelined with knee injury. Now, Dragic is this team's best player, and he is averaging 20.3 points, 6.4 assists 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Head coach Jeff Hornacek has helped Dragic grow into an entertaining and fearless point guard. When Bledsoe returns, Goran will be just as important. Him and Bledsoe will thrive together at the point guard position.

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3. Better Defense

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Phoenix needs its defense to win a title. The Suns' defense currently allows an average of 101.8 points per game. The Western Conference has the highest scoring teams in it, and Phoenix cannot afford to allow over 100 points per game. That puts too much pressure on the Suns' offense. For the Suns to increase their title hopes, the team must improve defensively.

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2. Eric Bledsoe

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Garrett Ellwood - Getty Images

Eric Bledsoe is currently sidelined repairing his meniscus. He has a timetable return 6-8 weeks. Bledsoe is a vital piece to the Suns' title hopes. Last season Bledsoe was a breakout performer for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2013 playoffs. With Ish Smith the only active backup point guard left, the Suns need him back in their rotation as soon as possible.

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1. Strong Rotation

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The Suns' title hopes are relying on strong rotation and high bench production.

Key bench players are Leandro Barbosa, Markieff Morris, Alex Len and Marcus Morris. Recently, their bench has been stepping up. The bench needs to continue to outscore their opponents' second rotation if Phoenix wants to capture the 2014 title.