Phoenix Suns - 2008 Team Preview - Betting Odds
by Jason of Predictem.com
2007 Record: 55-27 (39-40-3 ATS)
Head Coach: Terry Porter
Assistant Coach’s: Alvin Gentry, Bill Cartwright, Dan Majerle, and Igor Kokoskov
Home Court: US Airways Center
Projected Starting Lineup:
Center: Shaquille O’Neal
Forward: Matt Barnes
Forward: Amar’e Stoudamire
Guard: Steve Nash
Guard: Raja Bell
Current NBA Championship Odds: 20-1
After the Suns won over 60 games a couple of years in a row they could not get to the finals and they made a change. A BIG change. The Suns traded for Shaquille O’Neal for Shawn Marion and the Suns had a new look. The move did not pay off, as the Suns lost in the first round on the playoffs, but there is hope in the desert if Shaq can play like his dominant self.
Who’s In/Who’s Out
The Suns added free agents F Louis Amundson and F Matt Barnes, drafted G Goran Dragic, and C-F Robin Lopez, and traded for G Sean Singletary. The Suns lost G Gordan Giricek, F-C Brian Skinner, and G D.J. Strawberry.
Will the Suns be the run and gun team that they have been in the past few years? It does not look like it, as new coach Terry Porter is a defensive minded coach. Still the Suns will get their points, as they ranked 3rd in scoring last year (110.07), and 1st in FG% (50%). Every starter from last year averaged at least 13 ppg led by Stoudemire (25.2 ppg) and Nash (16.9 ppg). The key to the offense this year will be which Shaq shows up. If he is the Shaq of old the Suns will dominate in the paint. The bench scoring is legit for the Suns with super 6th man Leandro Barbosa (15.6 ppg).
Much like the offense the defense will depend on which Shaq shows up. The Suns also have a new defensive system, which they actually have to play some D. Shaq is a monster in the paint and even though he is no spring chicken he can still alter many shots. Last year Phoenix ranked 29th in defensive rebounding, which is why they picked up Shaq. No Suns player averaged in double figures in boards last year and they ranked 25th in rebound differential (-2.39) Their D is decent and has some tools to work with and backup C, rookie Robin Lopez, is great on the defensive end.
The offense of the Suns is their main strength. Stoudamire is one of the best finishers in the game and Nash is the best assist man. Bell (40.1%) and Barbosa (38.9%) are legit long-range gunners who can drain the long bomb. If Shaq is motivated and in shape, both are big ifs, he will open things up for the guards and Stoudamire. Grant Hill can also score, but he must stay on the court to do so.
The main weakness of the Suns is Father Time. Shaq is 36, Nash is 34, and Bell is 32. Even though Stoudamire is young he is playing alongside a bunch of geezers. The Suns have to be healthy as a team to contend for the title. The bench rookies will get significant minutes and they have to step up right away, especially if there are any injuries on the team.
Betting Odds and Projections
The Suns are a hard team to predict this year since there are so many ifs on the team. If Shaq can come back and be one of the better centers in the league the Suns will contend for the title. However, even if everything falls into place for the Suns can they beat the Lakers, Hornets, and even the Spurs? Sportsbook.com has the Suns at 20-1 to win the title and that sounds about right. They may be a dark horse pick, but a lot has to go right in the desert. The Suns are at +/- 46.5 wins. That is a bet to jump on, as they won 55 games last year and there team may be better this year. Even if Shaq beaks down it is hard to beat a team with Nash and Stoudamire and at least 45 wins seems like a no-brainer.