Suns will look for inspiration from the Dragic and Morris brothers this season…
Behind the inspired play of Goran Dragic, the Phoenix Suns only just missed out on a playoff spot last season. Can they do better this time round?
It was a heartbreaking end to the regular season for Jeff Hornacek’s men last year, as despite finishing with an impressive 48-34 record for the team they had, they fell a game short of eighth place and the playoffs.
Nevertheless, in a stacked Western Conference, they exceeded all expectations and benefited from real development from both Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, despite the latter missing significant playing time due to a knee injury.
With a year under Hornacek under their belts, the players will have matured and improved and they will look to use the disappointment of last season as additional motivation to push a little harder this time round.
Can Phoenix keep their back-court players happy with Dragic brothers, Bledsoe, Thomas and Ennis?
Goran Dragic was the star of the show for the Suns last season, averaging 20.3 points per game. However, coupled with Bledsoe’s scoring and ability on the defensive end, they worked well in the back-court.
The ‘problem’ that Hornacek will have to contend with this season is figuring out how to integrate both Zoran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas in particular into the team and sharing out minutes throughout the year.
Zoran can also play as a forward which makes life easier, but Thomas proved with the Sacramento Kings last season that he can be a real threat. Averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season, Thomas will likely be the Sixth Man option off the bench for the Suns, which only means they will be even more dangerous on a nightly basis across the 48 minutes.
Marcus and Markieff Morris along with Gerald Green offer great options in the forward roles, while Miles Plumlee and Alex Len are just two more pieces to what is an exciting and young roster that has a great deal of promise for the years to come.
It remains to be seen how far this team can go in the short-term, but if Hornacek can find the balance then they may well be heading for the post-season this year. However, they key will still be to find the right combinations to ensure their highly talented back-court flourishes.
The positives are that the Suns have great talent, youth and will undoubtedly be one of the more entertaining teams to watch this season. However, the question remains over whether or not they have the solidity and experience to deal with certain situations, as ultimately they do have a young roster.
Last season should be enough to give them confidence that they can compete with the heavyweights in the Western Conference, and they will be there or there abouts again pushing for a playoff spot this year.
While you can arguably stick money on the top four in the West, it looks as though there will be a real battle for the spots thereafter and you can be sure that Phoenix will be involved in that race. However, a lack of experience and individual star quality could be their undoing in the post-season.