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NBA Preview: Suns
NBA Preview: Suns
By WagerWeb.com and Ecobika Sportsbetting
When dissecting most NBA divisions, you scratch your head and ponder the possibilities.
But you can bet the Phoenix Suns will run away with the Pacific.
The free-wheeling Suns were not only clearly the cream of the crop in the division a year ago, but they return vastly talented power forward/center Amare Stoudemire, who missed virtually the entire 2005-06 season with a knee injury.
Add a healthy Stoudemire to a starting lineup that includes point guard and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, versatile small forward Shawn Marion and emerging talents in guard Raja Bell and guard/forward Boris Diaw, and you have arguably the best of the West.
The Phoenix bench also includes five players who averaged 8.6 points a game or better last year, so this team just might be destined for a berth in the Finals.
Granted, Dallas and San Antonio will have a thing or two to say about that.
When the Suns are rocking, they are the most explosive offensive team in the NBA. But defense is paramount in the postseason, and they haven't proven the ability to raise that aspect of their game to the next level.
Key additions: G Marcus Banks, F Jumaine Jones
Key subtractions: G Eddie House, F Tim Thomas, F Brian Grant
Sportsbook odds: Bettors are crazy about the Suns this season. WagerWeb.com lists them as the favorites at +500, or 5-1, to win the NBA championship.
Player to watch: A season-long knee injury is not one players often rebound from at full capacity. Stoudemire attempted to return late in the regular season last year, but simply wasn't ready and was forced to watch his teammates fall in the playoffs. Before he was sidelined, Stoudemire had earned a reputation as one of the top combination scorers and rebounders in the NBA. Marion took over that role nicely last season, but a return-to-form by Stoudemire would arguably elevate the Suns to clear Western Conference favorites, especially since they appear destined to win the Pacific. The injury couldn't have come at a worse time considering Stoudemire was just reaching his prime and his presence could have made the Suns the favorites to win it all last year.
Outlook: There is no more talented or deeper group in the NBA. Bell and Diaw (particularly the latter) improved dramatically in 2005-06, and Nash, Marion and Stoudemire are simply three of the best players in the league. The loss of House could hurt offensively, but the Suns feature plenty of scorers and shouldn't miss him. Every reserve in the rotation is capable offensively, including James Jones, Jumaine Jones, Leandro Barbosa, Kurt Thomas and Banks. It's almost as if the Suns should just start their season in the second round of the playoffs because if they stay healthy, they are an automatic qualifier at least to that level. But the better defensive team generally plays for the title. And the Suns haven't proven stingy enough on that end of the court. Until they do, don't wager big bucks on an NBA crown.
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