With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The Phoenix Suns ( …and it is the ruin of many a poor boy / in the house of the Phoenix Suns ).
Gained – Markieff Morris, Gani Lawal (sorta)
Lost – …That Lovin’ Feeling, In the World (feat. Bon Iver), and Vince Carter (probably)
Probable position depth –
PG – Steve Nash, Aaron Brooks*, Zabian Dowdell
SG – Jared Dudley, Mickael Pietrus
SF – Grant Hill, Josh Childress
PF – Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, Markieff Morris, Gani Lawal
C – Marcin Gortat, Robin Lopez, Garrett Siler
* free agent
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – The Suns allowed the second-most opponent defensive rebounds and total opponent rebounds. The Suns also allowed the fourth-most opponent offensive rebounds. For what it’s worth, the Suns led the league in opponent rebounds before Gortat started earning major minutes (the Polish Hammer was the only Sun to average more than 6.7 rpg).
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 0
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 1, Nash
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) –0,
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 3, Gortat, Frye
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 6, Dudley, Hill, Brooks
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. Should my drafting finger be shaking when I take Steve Nash this year?
Only if you have Parkinson ’s disease. Anyone nervous about drafting Nash will undoubtedly look at his age (36, going on 37) and they wouldn’t be foolish for doing so. Nash was alive for the disco revolution. Not only was he alive, he owned rhinestone pants. They were little pants, but still… And speaking of still butts, Nash’s never is. His butt is always moving. Offseason, preseason, postseason, dude is conditioning. He may be almost 37, but he’s probably as in-shape as most of the league’s 31-32-year-olds. He’s got the trick back, but he hasn’t missed more than seven games in a season since 2001 and he’s led the league in assists two years in a row. I won’t draft veterans with my first pick on general principle, but going in the second round of a deep league draft seems about right.
2. Should owners really be excited by a Polish center named Gortat?
Not at all. Gortat sounds like a fish sandwich that somehow incorporates mayonnaise. What fantasy owners should be excited about a 15/11/1.2 bpg center who’s been working with Hakeem Olajuwon during the offseason. Marcin, Hakeem. Hakeem, Marcin. I’d like to think with all the players meeting with Olajuwon in their off time, that The Dream has fortified himself in a grand temple awaiting each new pupil like Pei Mei in ‘Kill Bill, Vol.2.’ I’d also like Olajuwon to pluck LeBron’s eye out of its socket. I’ve forgotten what I was saying … oh yeah, Gortat’s a top 10 center.
3. Sometimes I worry Aaron Brooks’ oddly shaped head will force him to tip over during a fastbreak; how many opportunities will I have to worry about that this season?
I think Brooks will have a week, maybe two in which to shine, but not much more than that and I’m not even convinced he’ll shine in that week, maybe two. I picked Goran Dragic as a sleeper to target last year, because I greatly underestimated Steve Nash’s bionic ability. This season, I’m fully predicting that Nash plays another 75+ games (or whatever the equivalent of 75+ games will be in this almost assuredly lockout-shortened season). Now that I’ve predicted Nash will have a huge year, I’ll avoid drafting him at all costs and pick Brooks three rounds sooner than I should. Either I’m right or I’ve made a steal in the draft. I’m also predicting Aaron Brook’s head forces him to tip over no fewer than three times – lockout or no lockout!
Rookie Review! – Markieff Morris. We’ll call this the Suns’ “I’m-pretty-sure-FroPez-isn’t-going-to-pan-out” pick. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure this pick won’t pan out either. He’s a bruiser, who repeatedly has “can finish at the rim” listed as his best trait. That’s a layup, kids. When the best thing a scout can identify about you is that you can place a small object inside a larger object from a very close distance, then the second best thing I can say about you is I’m letting other teams draft you.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Channing Frye. Frye had a terrible start to last season, but a strong finish and ended up in 2010 generally about where he left off in 2009. He’s a 7-foot three-point shooter who only grabs 6-7 rebounds a game and barely blocks one shot per contest. He’ll get his minutes and shot opportunities, but I don’t think we’re going to see a huge leap in ability (or any leap for that matter). At 28 years old, he is who he is. And the only way he’ll be on my team is if I have a handful of guards who grab more rebounds, block more than their fair share and shoot a high percentage to make up for all that one loses with Frye.
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – Steve Nash. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t see Nash leading the league in assists again this year. But if I’m honest with myself, I also have to evaluate my affinity for wearing ladies underwear. What I’m saying is, who needs self-honesty?
Deep Sleeper – Jared Dudley. I’m not even sure how deep of a sleeper he’ll be come draft day. He went widely unnoticed in most leagues in the final 20 games of the season. It’s hard to tell if that will carry over to this one. He averaged 26 mpg, 11/4/1, with 2.4 stl+3ptm last season, which is okay. Upon closer inspection, Dudley Do-Right did pretty damn right in his 15 games as a starter, averaging 34 mpg, 16/6/2, with 3.2 stl+3ptm. With Vince Carter gone and Mickael Pietrus generally underwhelming, this looks to be the uproarious, and drunken shenanigan-filled year of Dudley’s more!