Yes, it’s that time of the year, time to close the book on the 2010-11 season
Steve Nash. Often I feel we take Nash for granted and overlook his efforts and performances. At 37, battling injuries, with an unstable supporting cast he played 75 games and 2,497 minutes of basketball (33.3 per game). Nash led the NBA in assists and showed his best assists/turnover (3.23) ratio of the last 5 season. But even without considering stats he showed “solid” leadership, not by talking to the media but leading by example every day. Without him the Suns would be a pain to watch and not worthy of more than 30 wins.
Rookie of the year
One of the biggest problem of the Suns recent era is their inability to develop young players. The history of recent drafts has more or less been about picks traded, cash considerations and not a single impact player: Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin in ’08, Lawal and Collins in ’09 just to name the latest. Technically speaking the Suns don’t have a single rookie on their NBA roster so I’ll just make this an award for the best newcomer on the team and assign it to Marcin Gortat. Nobody expected him to be such a solid NBA player (13 Points, 9 rebounds per game as a Sun) despite showing some potential in limited action in Orlando.
Defensive player of the year
Defense and Suns in the same sentence? This has to be the most difficult award to assign. The Suns system tends to expose each player’s weakness on defense instead of protecting them. The best defender in Phoenix is Grant Hill, despite being 38 he still has decent mobility, positions himself well and is a solid defensive rebounder.
Most Improved player
Has to be Marcin Gortat who happens to be also the “first-year Sun of the year”. On the opposite side, the biggest disappointment of the year has to be Robin Lopez even if this category could be a bit overcrowded from Childress to Hedo Turkoglu, a strong candidate despite playing only 25 games with the Suns). Lopez was given a chance to play and show his ability on a team desperate for defense and rebounds that should also be his strengths.
Jared Dudley. JD played in all 82 games and improved his numbers from the previous season. He came off the bench in 67 games and was always ready to play. An very good shooter he’s dynamic and has sxcellent basketball instinct.
All-Suns First team
It’s gotta be Nash, Hill, Dudley, Frye and Gortat.
How do we judge the Coach’s work? Overall the Suns didn’t perform like they could or we hoped. They ended up 40-42and out of the Playoffs but many predicted just that before the season, somewhat considering the 2009-10 run a unique miracle. Coach Gentry did an adequate job but failed to make a difference in 2010-11. The Suns appeared to be generally well prepared to play but in some cases seemed to lack a bit of fire nor they could deliver in the clutch (on both side of the ball).
Chemistry was an issue for the Suns: The December trades probably didn’t help nor getting Vince Carter who played like he simply didn’t care. A few of the Suns Summer signings simply didn’t perform as we hoped. I still think Gentry is an above average NBA coach not to mention a nice and classy gentleman. I hope he’ll have a chance to lead the inevitable rebuilding of the Suns.
Luca, the Steve Fan