Terry Porter must have the confidence that he can make Jason Richardson buy into the Suns attempt at defense because it doesn’t appear that the need any added punch to their offense.
While in the past 3 years the Suns have had the most potent offense in the league, this year they are still the only team in the league shooting over 50% from the field and are averaging 101.7 PPG, good enough for 7th in the league. They are scoring about 9 points less than last season where they were the third highest scoring team by a difference of a point. Defensively they gave up 105 ppg on 45% shooting in 2007-08 compared to this years’ 101.1 on 45% shooting. The have attempted the 2nd fewest shots per game this year which explains the drop in scoring and scoring defense is attributed to the pace of the game, which Phoenix has obviously chosen to slow down.
Jason Richardson can’t possibly ‘improve’ a team’s offense that is already shooting over 50% can he? And Raja Bell, the team’s only truly defensive player wasn’t a slouch on offense, being able to hit an open three and guard the 1-3 positions very effectively. I would consider him a top 10 lockdown player in the league, but what separates him is that he guards the best perimeter player every night, as opposed to K. Bryant and other superstars who only “lockdown” for portions of the game.
I doubt that Porter is giving up on defense this early in the season so it sounds as if GM Steve Kerr is taking another “shot.”
While the talent level is certainly improved from and offensive perspective it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right fit.
Note: Jared Dudley is a good bench warmer but he won’t get much run for the Suns.
What is going on? Is Felton going to start at the 2 with Augistin at the 1? How does Raja Bell and a 3rd string (at best) point guard help this team? They already have the lowest scoring offense in the league and they trade away a guy who is scoring 19 ppg? Boris Diaw, while originally thought to be a steal in Joe Johnson trade and since regressed. He can’t play power forward, I don’t care what Hollinger says. He is a finesse player even at the 3, and at the 4 he’ll have to bang. As far as cap space goes, it makes the cash spread around a little more, but besides being able to move pieces and sign role playing free agents there has to come a point when teams should give up on the Wade/Bosh/Lebron sweepstakes because they are all going to resign with their current teams or go to the best situation to win now, which isn’t aren’t any of the teams with cap space outside of the Blazers and maybe the Nets in two years.
Michael Jordan has seriously hurt this franchise by ‘giving away’ their franchise player.
What does this mean for the Blazers?
Good things. First off, the Blazer’s have never matched up well with the Suns. One of the reasons being that Raja Bell has made it just tough enough to effect Brandon Roy’s game. Without him, Brandon will be able to make that many more plays. It sounds simple, and it is. Of course on the flip side, Richardson will have to be guarded, but his range is equal to Bell’s and it is the sinking nature of our defense against O’Neal and Stoudamire that leaves the perimeter open, and so that change is minimal.
It also weakens the Bobcats who the Blazers still have to play twice.
I will say that Phoenix, if they do buy into the defense that Porter is trying to preach could end up being a match-up problem at 4 of their 5 starting positions. I still think Phoenix will end up with a much worst record than last year but will be a much better playoff contender making it to the Western Conference Finals.