Phoenix Suns

2010-11 NBA Preview: Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 last season)

The reigning champs would love for a three-peat.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Derek Fisher

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

Small Forward: Ron Artest

Power Forward: Pau Gasol

Center: Andrew Bynum

Key Reserves:

Guard: Steve Blake

Guard-Forward: Matt Barnes

Forward: Lamar Odom

I believe this Laker team only got better by adding Steve Blake and Matt Barnes.  Blake will prove to be a much better backup to Derek Fisher than Jordan Farmar.  Blake is a savvy veteran with a solid shooting stroke and will run this team very well.  He will also help the Lakers dismal three point percentage that they had last season.  Kobe Bryant will be Kobe Bryant, regardless if he’s hurt or healthy.  The man is the closest to Jordan that I have seen.  If Ron Artest can play like he did in the playoffs for the entire season it’s game over.  The Lakers are still the best team, even after the moves the Heat made, and they will prove it with their third title in a row.

Phoenix Suns (54-28 last season)

When will the "fountain of youth" run out of water.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Steve Nash

Shooting Guard: Jason Richardson

Small Forward: Grant Hill

Power Forward: Hedo Turkoglu

Center: Robin Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Goran Dragic

Guard-Forward: Josh Childress

Forward: Jared Dudley

The Suns have improved in some areas and in others they are going to be drastically lost.  Losing Amar’e Stoudemire is going to be tough to get over, and Robin Lopez must step up big time if Phoenix wants to prove they can still play in the West.  Rebounding will be an important stat to keep in mind, because even with Stoudemire they weren’t that great.  Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick all need to bring down more rebounds than they are used to doing.  I still have faith that this new look team can make the playoffs, but will they make it past the first round?  For more on the Suns check out this article: Planet Orange Shining Bright

Los Angeles Clippers (29-53 last season)

Healthy and ready to show why he was the No. 1 pick.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Baron Davis

Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon

Small Forward: Ryan Gomes

Power Forward: Blake Griffin

Center: Chris Kaman

Key Reserves:

Guard: Eric Bledsoe

Forward: Rasual Butler

Forward: Al-Farouq Aminu

The Clippers are going to be a much improved squad this year, and it really can be thanks to a healthy Blake Griffin.  He is an immediate impact player and will be a significant boost to the chemistry of this team.  The starting lineup for the Clippers seems solid, but the reserves will be a little shaky.  None of them have really proven to be NBA dependable and there are also a lot of rookies on the roster (Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Willie Warren).  Ultimately, the Clippers are going to go as Baron Davis goes.  He will have the ball in his hands a majority of the time trying to set up other players, and if he’s off then the rest of the team will be out of sync.  I see the Clippers missing the playoffs, but not by a whole lot.

Sacramento Kings (25-57 last season)

The catalyst of this youthful team.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Tyreke Evans

Shooting Guard: Beno Udrih

Small Forward: Omri Casspi

Power Forward: Carl Landry

Center: Samuel Dalembert

Key Reserves:

Guard-Forward: Francisco Garcia

Forward: Donte Greene

Forward-Center: DeMarcus Cousins

A lot is going in the right direction for the Kings: Tyreke Evans is turning into a superstar, they are stacked at the power forward and center position, and the losing ways could be over this season.  This team reminds me of the 76ers though.  They have no shooters.  Tyreke is improving but still isn’t quite there.  Omri Casspi is a streaky shooter and same with Beno Udrih.  Both Donte Greene and Francisco Garcia have a chance of cracking the starting lineup and shooting consistently will be the key.  Also look for DeMarcus Cousins to slowly start taking more and more minutes away from Samuel Dalembert as the season progresses.

Golden State Warriors (26-56 last season)

Out of New York and out of the pressure.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Stephen Curry

Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis

Small Forward: Dorell Wright

Power Forward: David Lee

Center: Andris Biedrins

Key Reserves:

Guard: Charlie Bell

Guard-Forward: Rodney Carney

Forward: Louis Amundson

David Lee must provide for this team.  The Warriors shipped three players away to acquire Lee and they are looking for something in return.  Stephen Curry is proving that he can play in the NBA and he is coming off an impressive rookie season.  His continued development will be the main focal point because who knows how much longer Monta Ellis will be around.  Golden State should have no problem rebounding with Lee and Andris Biedrins and their defense should be much improved by adding Louis Amundson.  With a few bright spots, I still feel this team will finish last in the division.

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2010-11 NBA Preview-Overview

The NBA season is less than a week away and many are getting excited for what should be a fantastic thrill ride.  I will be posting division previews sporadicly during the course of this week and into the weekend.  Stay tuned for analysis on your favorite team, but for now, here is a division breakdown with projected records and the four important awards handed out at the end of the year.

Eastern Conference

Can New York make the playoffs thanks to Amar'e?

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (51-31)

New York Knicks (36-46)

New Jersey Nets (32-50)

Philadelphia 76ers (29-53)

Toronto Raptors (25-57)

Central Division

How will the Cavs fare without LeBron?

Chicago Bulls (50-32)

Milwaukee Bucks (47-35)

Indiana Pacers (32-50)

Cleveland Cavaliers (30-52)

Detroit Pistons (29-53)

Southeast Division

Wall and Arenas will be a fun duo to watch!

Miami Heat (61-21)

Orlando Magic (54-28)

Atlanta Hawks (46-36)

Washington Wizards (37-45)

Charlotte Bobcats (36-46)

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Utah Jazz (47-35)

Denver Nuggets (41-41)

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60)

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (59-23)

Phoenix Suns (46-36)

Los Angeles Clippers (36-46)

Sacramento Kings (30-52)

Golden State Warriors (28-54)

 

Southwest Division

How many games will Yao play in?

Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

Houston Rockets (47-35)

San Antonio Spurs (45-37)

Memphis Grizzlies (41-41)

New Orleans Hornets (37-45)

 

My pick for the NBA Finals is Lakers over Heat in a seven game series.  Here are the awards for the end of the season.

MVP: Kevin Durant

Most Improved Player: Hedo Turkoglu

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Don’t Overlook the Small Names Team

The Buzzer Beatin' Follow Through by Lester Hudson

Lester Hudson, NBA Free Agent

After having a very impressive Las Vegas Summer League showing as a member of the Washington Wizards, Lester Hudson is on the verge of making another NBA roster this season. Averaging 11.2 points,  2.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per contest, Hudson made sure John Wall wasn’t the only impressive Wizards point guard. In fact, Hudson played a key role during the last stretches of close games. Wizards’ Summer League Head Coach Sam Cassell turned to both Wall and Hudson as the primary ball handlers with the game on the line. In the Wizards last summer league game, Hudson took over as the Wizards elected to sit out Wall. Hudson dropped 19 points to go along with 9 assists, and delivered the dagger from  connecting on a game winning, step-back buzzer beater. That’s not a bad way to finish off a successful summer league appearance and it definitely left a lasting impression on the entire league.

SG: Dominique Jones, Dallas Mavericks

Jones has a lot to offer at the NBA level

This year’s 25th overall pick by the Mavericks showed plenty of good signs during his inaugural summer league performances. Dominique Jones went onto to average 16.6 points per game with 3.4 assists and 3.8 boards. Not only did Jones lead his team in scoring throughout their five matchups, but Jones absorbed much of the hype that was supposed to surround Mavs second-year man, Rodrigue Beaubois. By the end of summer league, the word around the press row was looking forward to watching Jones, not particularly just Beaubois as expected. Jones must improve upon his consistency from the floor, but can indeed help next year’s Mavericks team if called upon.

Rolle was on a roll producing during his time on the floor in Orlando Summer League

SF: Magnum Rolle, Indiana Pacers

While I decided to transform him into a small forward for the sake of showing love for the hungry Pacers rookie. Magnum Rolle made the best of each and every opportunity he got to show the Pacers what he has to offer and it paid off. Rolle is a guy, you’ll be hearing about for years to come. He won’t blow you away with his skill but he’ll instead do it with his hustle and energy. At 6’10 with a very long wingspan, Rolle is very versatile and can guard multiple positions. In Orlando Summer League, Rolle averaged 13.4 points, 7 boards, and 2 blocks a game. Having not played basketball until his freshman year of high school, I’d say Rolle still has a lot of room to grow as a player, especially if he continues to work as hard as he has thus far in the league.

Brackins should become CP3's new best friend on the perimeter

PF: Craig Brackins, New Orleans Hornets

Ok, so maybe Brackins isn’t really a “small name” having been a highly touted recruit coming out of Brewster Academy, but entering the league I’d say many still aren’t buying in. While I doubt Brackins ever becomes a borderline star in the NBA, I do think he’ll be a very solid, respected NBA pro in the near future. It all starts with his size and his ability to stretch the defense with his touch. Brackins is a tremendous shooter with range often times compared to LaMarcus Aldridge, but I’d argue there’s a bit of a “in his prime version of Brian Cook”. He definitely showed me a lot in his summer league games averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds. Not to mention he shot 47% from the three-point line connecting on 10-21 total attempts. While he won’t provide much in other categories his shooting consistency will find him minutes. With Chris Paul leading the charge in New Orleans, Brackins will be a perfect complimentary piece. He doesn’t clog up the lane, prefers to float around the perimeter, and can step into a shot from anywhere on the offensive end. Watch out NBA fantasy basketball, this could be your new favorite three-point specialist since you’ll be able to place him in your power forward slot.

Lawal could end up being "The Steal" of the 2010 NBA Draft Class

C: Gani Lawal, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns getting some love? You better believe it, they got an absolute steal in this year’s draft, grabbing Gani Lawal with the 46th overall pick. Although they didn’t even have a first round pick this year, the Phoenix Suns came out of the 2010 draft as one of draft night’s winners. Much like how Eric Bledsoe played in the shadow of John Wall at Kentucky, Lawal did the same at Georgia Tech as the focus and media attention was on Derrick Favors. If one were to ask me how good Lawal could end up being? I’d surprise many with this: at the end of the day, Gani Lawal may very well be just as good, if not a better pro than Derrick Favors. Bold statement? Yes, very much so, but entirely out of the question? Absolutely not. In Las Vegas Summer League, I was not at all surprised at Lawal’s attention grabbing stat lines throughout the Suns’ five games. Lawal completed summer league averaging 15.4 points, 7.4 boards, with 1 block a game. It’s nearly impossible to predict how the Phoenix Suns handle Lawal’s rookie year and whether or not he ever gets a real chance to shine. But one thing’s for certain if Lawal continues to develop his game on the practice floor and can show the Suns coaching staff he can rebound, he’ll play. Both Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick are terrible rebounders, plus it’s also clear at this point that hustle-man and fan favorite Lou Amundson isn’t returning. Knock, Knock…Who’s there? Gani Lawal.

Last But Not Least, I Bring You The Most Exciting NBA Summer League Finish I Was In Attendance For, Which Includes 2 of the 5 Players That Made This List: Lester Hudson & Craig Brackins. Take a Look:

This is the last and final part of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Thank you for following the series and we hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Top 10 Poster-ers

By: Zach Silvernial (OTC Contributor)

The OuttaTownClowns would like to welcome Zach Silvernail to the blog, we’re happy to announce he’s the newest edition to our growing blog. Zach will primarily focus on contributing to our NCAA Basketball and NBA content on the page. Along with his well-written work, Zach has a great knowledge and high level understanding of the game at both the collegiate and pro levels of play. But don’t take us from us, follow his work on our blog and you’ll see for yourself. Without further ado, I bring you Zach’s debut post on the OTC…Enjoy!

There is nothing more exciting, and often times amusing, than watching a guy get dunked on. With so many incredible athletes now in the NBA, it’s something that seems to happen almost every game. Nothing gets a crowd going, a bench going, and most importantly a player going like taking off full speed, going body to body, and putting his you-know-what in an opponent’s face. If you’re not too familiar with the term “getting postered”, ask Shawn Bradley to describe it to you. I’m almost positive that’s what his role was throughout his stint in the NBA. Or ask guys like Stromile SwiftJames White, or Gerald Green…who only got to the NBA because of their high flying ability. But, before you escape to YouTube, allow me to present the list:

The Kobe Bryant Mini-Fro Days....

10. Kobe Bryant
I know, I know. He’s getting older now, and does a lot less high flying than he did during his mini-fro days, but he is still one of the more explosive and acrobatic players in the league. Don’t think so? Dare you to tell him otherwise.

9. Derrick Rose
Talk about a FREAK athlete. Rose is one of the most, if not the most explosive two-foot jumpers in the NBA. He might not belong in the top 10 based on his quantity of posters, but certainly for his quality and capability. Goran, what were you thinking?

One of the best dunks in All-Star Weekend's history

8. Andre Iguodala
Following in the footsteps of former Wildcat high-flyer Richard Jefferson, “Iggy” comes in at number 8. With deceptively long arms, incredible athleticism, and an underrated array of dunks (as illustrated in his dunk contest appearances)…Andre had to make the list.

7. Russell Westbrook
This guy might be my favorite one on the list. He became known for his ability as a youngster at UCLA, and has continued to humble opponents in the NBA. One of the top five quickest and fastest players in the league, he is beyond dangerous in the open floor.

6. Rudy Gay
Now the ranking becomes a little bit more difficult. It’s hard to put Rudy as low as number 6, but he has about 84 million reasons to make himself feel better. Almost impossible to stop above the rim because of his length, and probably best known for his always fully extended, and picture perfect windmill.

"Mr. Tolliver, will you sign my poster?"

5. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amare is certainly one of the most ferocious and powerful dunkers on the list. He may not always have the most “spectacular” posters, but he seems to have about a million every year. His number of dunks might go down without “Stevie” to thread the needle this year, but he’ll still manage to embarrass a few opponents and their families. Somewhere Anthony Tolliver is tweeting: “SMH”.

4. Dwayne Wade
Alright, now it’s almost impossible. Having to put maybe my favorite player at 4 was not easy, but the top 3 are too good. “DW3” is as relentless as anyone when it comes to taking the ball to the rack, and epitomizes the clique: “attacking the rim with reckless abandon”. Just ask Anderson Varejao.

3. Josh Smith
“J-Smoov” needs no introduction. Only fitting that he would play for the Hawks. Probably the only guy capable of filling out all Top 10 plays on SportsCenter in one night. He’ll pin you at one end and then catch a lob on the other. Always fun to watch.

2. Dwight Howard
Superman comes in at number 2 strictly because it happens so often. Had the list been called Most Likely To Dunk on You…Dwight would probably be number 1. Not only one of the most incredible athletes currently in the NBA, but of all time.

Back When D-Wade Was "A Witness", No Wonder He Wanted To Unite

1. LeBron James
Are you surprised? Possesses every possible attribute of a good poster-er. Size, speed, strength, quickness, jumping ability. You name it, he’s got it. Well, except for a ring.

Well, that concludes my list. But, before I go, just want to give a shout-out to the All Underrated Poster Squad: Will Bynum, Ronnie Price, Von Wafer, Shannon Brown, Dahntay Jones, Chase Budinger, Rodney Carney, Trevor Ariza.

Follow Zach on Twitter: @love4thegame3


Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 A Trade-Away From Being A Good Player Team

Find him consistent minutes & he too will become consistent

PG: Jerryd Bayless, Portland Trail Blazers

If there’s one player in the league that I know best regarding game play and ablities (outside of the Milwaukee Bucks players) it’s Jerryd Bayless. He’s one of the hardest working players in the NBA and staying committed to improving upon his game has been a habit since childhood. Having grown up in Arizona playing against Bayless and seeing his progression into an NBA lottery pick, it’s very hard to watch him getting limited minutes in Portland. Not only has Bayless never really fit into Portland’s plans but with the recent draft selections in Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson, it looks as though there’s no hope in seeing Bayless get significant floor time. A good NBA comparison to Bayless would be Golden State’s Monta Ellis, Bayless is great off the dribble, has tremendous lift of his pull-up, and can get to the basket. Reasons he doesn’t see the floor include not finishing when he gets to the basket, not a true point guard and he’s an undersized combo-guard. Systems that’d Bayless could really be beneficiary in include teams such as the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. Any team that has any interest in going up-tempo should consider trying to deal for Bayless, let him for once show you what he can do. That opportunity in finding consistent minutes night in and night out has never been awarded to him.

Gilbert Arenas + John Wall = Not a Good Fit nor Opportunity for Hinrich

SG: Kirk Hinrich, Washington Wizards

So you may be thinking, didn’t Hinrich just get traded? Well yes, but no. Hinrich once again is in a situation where he’ll be forced to play tandem guard off the bench with John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. While Hinrich has no problems defending most shooting guards in the league, it kills his potential playing a swingman position on the offensive end of the floor. Hinrich must find a situation where he can once again become a starting point guard. A few teams that stand out as good fits for both Hinrich and the team would be the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and if they weren’t so caught up in bad point guard contracts, I’d also include the Toronto Raptors.

Potentially "The Next Rashard Lewis"

SF: Earl Clark, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns organizations have struggled in the player development department ever since the signing of Mike D’Antoni. When the Suns hired Alvin Gentry to takeover as head coach, player development improved slightly but they still struggle to find their young talent some minutes in the rotation. While I understand with the emergence of Jared Dudley’s play off the bench backing aging veteran Grant Hill made it difficult to find the rookie forward out of Louisville some time, he wasn’t given enough time to even be fully evaluated in NBA game situations. For the sake of the Suns future, I’d encourage them to give a better effort in finding time for Clark as they did with Goran Dragic. Slowly it looks as though the Dragic experiment is about to pay huge dividends as a young guard they can lean on moving forward into the coming years and truthfully Clark, if given the right opportunity, could give them the same type of feeling. Not only is Clark a perfect small forward in the Suns system, but he’s got the perfect size, strength, and abilities to become the next Rashard Lewis. Both Clark and Lewis stand at an even 6-10 with Clark just 5 pound lighter than the proven, veteran sharp shooter. Due to lack of minutes and a small window of opportunity, Clark happened to be of quietest lottery pick rookies last season.

"Play Me or Trade Me"

PF: Brandon Bass, Orlando Magic

One of the more shocking developments of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season was the lack of playing time Brandon Bass received as a first-year member of the Orlando Magic. After signing a 4 year, $18 million dollar contract with Orlando, it was assumed he be a prime time factor off their bench, but Bass never seemed to be even close to part of Stan Van Gundy’s game plans. I can’t help but think of Bass’s few years with Dallas leading up to his signing with the Magic and how big of a role he played in games off the Mavericks bench. I can only scratch my head and wonder why on earth he wasn’t given a chance. Bass’s game is one that team’s interested must proceed with caution due to his playing ability and it looks as though Orlando doesn’t see him being a piece to the puzzle. Despite his considerably large contract for his type of talent, Bass potentially is a diamond-in-the-rough trading piece for other team’s should consider dealing for.

DeAndre Jordan Can Do Move of This

C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan is the only player that’s included in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my 7-Part Blog Series and that’s something worth noting. Considering the idea of him being traded to another franchise scares me because he has the size and the raw talent to be on the absolute verge of breaking out. Best fits for Jordan must be teams that already have an established big man or superstar type talent that he can compliment nicely. Teams he could become a border-line All-Star with include the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, and probably the scariest destination would be the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This is Part 2 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean timefollow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Planet Orange Shining Bright With New Acquisitions

By: James Sargent

Last season was quite a success for the Phoenix Suns as they reached the Western Conference Finals when every NBA source  had them making the playoffs as a 6-8 seed and not going further than the first round.  Now, I am here to tell you that the Phoenix Suns can exceed last season and possibly knock off the Lakers.  The loss of Amare Stoudemire, in my opinion, will be quite a hurdle to overcome, but the players that were added will make the Suns a better team.

Amare is gone, like Lebron, but at least he said thank you.

Amare Stoudemire is a great player and I loved watching him mature in his tenure with the Suns, but he had a couple of flaws he brought to the team.

One, he has injury issues that have to always be in the back of your mind.  I understand he came back successfully from micro-fracture knee surgery and major eye surgery, but at any time he could go down due to the effects from these injuries or new ones that could arise.  Major injuries can have lingering effects and pop up at any time when you least except it.  Heck, at any point, Steve Nash’s career could be over with one unlucky back injury.  Injury-ridden players are always something you have to watch out for.

Two, his rebounding is very questionable.  You never know when he is going to show up and grab 12 boards or five boards in a game.  His lack of enthusiasm and hustle are also big reasons to when he decides to play his hardest.   Last season in the playoffs, he averaged 6.6 rebounds.  C’mon, man!  You are a 6’10” power forward and one of the most athletic players in the NBA!  There is no reason you shouldn’t be pulling down nine or less rebounds a game.

Three, and this is similar to the one above, his defense is very poor.  Again, he is athletic enough to be a defensive presence, but he doesn’t always give it his all in every game.  Every once in a while he will have a good defensive game and record a couple blocks, but most of the time he is terrible.  Maybe New York will bring out the best of Amare.

Now we get to move on to the additions that the Suns made.  Several days after LeBron James shocked the basketball world with his decision to join the Miami Heat alongside Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the Suns made a quiet but interesting move by signing the lanky yet versatile forward Hakim Warrick.  Then, a few days after that, the Suns landed Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu in separate deals.

I believe the last afro the Suns had was young Shawn Marion's.

The only price the Suns pay for these acquisitions is the loss of guard, Leandro Barbosa, who was sent to Toronto for Turkoglu.  I am happy Barbosa is gone.  He was starting to lose his off-the-bench heroics and he took way too many shots.  He had some great seasons for Phoenix, but after the injury he suffered last year, he just did not come back the same.

Josh Childress is a great pickup for the team.  He provides stability in the small forward spot, which is currently occupied by the aging Grant Hill.  Childress, who spent his last two seasons playing overseas for the Olympiacos in Greece, will also help tremendously on defense.  He can lessen the burdens of Jason Richardson in guarding the tough opposing guards in the league such as the likes of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.  Childress ultimately will bring to the team what Shawn Marion brought in his days here, just not as frequent.  Childress is a poor man’s Shawn Marion and I am going to stick by that comment until I am proven wrong.

Hedo Turkoglu, on the other hand, is set to face enormous amounts of pressure as he takes over the slot vacated by Amare.  The Turkish sensation, who had a dismal season with the Toronto Raptors, will give the Suns more firepower and provide clutch plays for the team.  He will also lessen the load of Steve Nash because he is a very good ball handler and great court vision.  His only downside is his suspect defense.  He will have to guard the more powerful and stronger power forwards and this could pose problems.

With this being said, I believe the Suns will be a much more talented team.  The starting lineup will include Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu and Robin Lopez.  The bench, or “Second Unit”, will feature Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye.  The Suns could even go as deep as playing Earl Clark or rookie Gani Lawal if they make great improvements.  Anyways, I am very excited for this team next season, and the loss of Amare could turn out just fine.

The verdict: The Suns will exceed expectations once again and make it to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.  Can the new look Suns test the Lakers in a seven game series?  Next year we will find out.

Scottie Reynolds: Rise Like a Phoenix

By: Ross Geiger

Eighteen and a half points per game, forty percent from long range, his team’s go-to player, his school’s second all-time leading scorer, the face of his school’s basketball program, he is Scottie Reynolds. The 6’2, 190 pound point guard had a spectacular college career at Villanova, now Reynolds continues his spectacular story.

It’s starts as birth born in Huntsville, Alabama where his teenage mother gave him up for adoption. Growing up in a warm household, Reynolds was brought up well, and his upbringing carried over to the basketball court. In the state of Virginia, Reynolds is widely regarded as one of the top scorers in basketball history. As a senior at Herndon High School in Herndon, Virginia, Reynolds averaged 28.4 points per outing, dropped 4.5 assists, and was a thief snagging an 4 steals nightly.

Entering his freshmen season with the Villanova Wildcats, it didn’t take Reynolds to long to adjust and went onto to be named the 2006-2007 Big East Rookie of the Year. As just a sophomore, Reynolds led the Wildcats in scoring totaling 15.9 points per game, helping make the push to a Sweet 16 berth. During his first year as an upperclassman, Reynolds took his team to even greater heights come time for the big dance. In the Elite Eight matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers, Reynolds known for his clutch performances drilled a game-winning bucket with 0.5 seconds remaining, which led ‘Nova to the 2009 Final Four in Detroit. As a senior, Reynolds helped his team to a 25-8 overall record, but unfortunately made an early exit as the #2 seed in the tournament. The disappointing loss to St. Mary’s in the second round not only put his dreams of winning an NCAA Championship to rest, but also held him short of becoming the Villanova’s program all-time leading scorer. Reynolds was just 21 points shy of the feat trailing only former NBA guard Kerry Kittles. But make no mistake, Reynolds received the well-deserved recognition he deserved as a senior being named to the 2010 AP All-American 1st team becoming only the fourth player in school history to do so.

After one heck of a career at Villanova, Reynolds was set on entering the 2010 NBA Draft and that’s where his story becomes even more spectacular. Reynolds, an AP All-American, surprisingly went undrafted on draft night. But please, don’t begin to feel sorry for the talented youngster; if anything this is a blessing in disguise. Though Reynolds made many of his accomplishment look easy during his high school and college days, this next step will be a bit more challenging to overcome. He’s an undersized NBA guard who many scouts question whether he’s got the capabilities to be an NBA floor general.

Reynolds entered NBA Las Vegas Summer League camp with a chip on his shoulder, out to prove the critics wrong as a member of the Phoenix Suns. In just three games (due to injury) Reynolds had some highs and some lows, yet showed enough upside that the Suns immediately offered him a training camp invite. His summer league line: 10.3 ppg on 47% field goals, 44% behind the arc, and was a perfect 100% from the charity stripe, to go along with 4.7 assists per game. In each of his three summer league games, Reynolds built upon each performance and by the his third and final game against the D-League Select team he scored 16 points and added 3 assists in limited minutes.

Best Be Sure He's Keepin' His Head High

A variety of NBA teams have extended training camp invites to Reynolds and he’s yet to make his decision. But I’ll be willing to bet, Reynolds’s story as an undrafted NBA rookie hasn’t quite ended yet in the Valley of the Sun. If and when Reynolds accepts the Suns training camp spot, I expect Reynolds to continue to grow as an NBA professional and will rise like a Phoenix as one of the most underrated NBA rookies next season. He’s in a great situation as member of the Phoenix Suns, not only can he learn from one of the best point guards the game has ever seen in Steve Nash, but his offensive game can flourish in the Suns style of play.

With the departure of Taylor Griffin (waived) this past week, I fully expect to see Scottie Reynolds a Phoenix Sun next season. From what I’ve been hearing the Phoenix Suns are very high on him and at this point I see it nearly a no-brainer that he makes the final roster. He’d most likely spend much of the year traveling back and forth between D-League and call-ups, but with Nash’s aching back always in question, you never know when he may be called upon. But if his time comes and his number is called, Scottie Reynolds will be ready to step up to the challenge that awaits as he has all his life. Making transitions look easy is something Scottie Reynolds has done his entire life, so why shall it stop now?

After all, NBA teams allowing him to go undrafted only fuels his fire. If there is one kid, one story to watch this season it may in fact be Scottie Reynolds. If there is to be another Wesley Matthews type scenario be in store this season, look no further.

Milwaukee Bucks Summer League Game 1 Points of Emphasis

By: Ross Geiger

Game 1: Dallas Mavericks: 73 Milwaukee Bucks: 72 OT

After watching the Milwaukee Bucks lose a tough one in a very exciting battle with the Dallas Mavericks in their Summer League opener, I came away with five players that are worthy of some points of emphasis.

Jackson could earn a jersey with the Bucks this season, but he won't be wearing #00, that belongs to Drew Gooden

1. Darnell Jackson: Leading all scorers with 17 points in the contest, Jackson’s NBA experience really paid dividends. Going 8-15 from the field while collecting 7 boards all came under composure. Many of the young players came into the game with debut butterflies but it was evident that Jackson’s adapted to the summer league experiences. He led by example in 25 minutes of play and played under control the entire time, only committing 2 fouls as well. It’s still very early in a long process but his Game 1 play definitely helps his case in grabbing one of the last few spots on the Bucks roster this season.

2.  Larry Sanders: Despite what many take from Sanders’ pro debut, I actually feel I saw more positives than negatives today. Yes he struggled offensively but we knew that was his biggest weakness coming in. Having only connected on 4 of his 15 shot attempts Sanders must improve upon finishing at the basket while absorbing contact, along with better shot selection. As far as the shot selection goes, that can easily improve as the games move on, he was trying to impress as any brand new top pick would in their debut. But as I mentioned there were tons of positives from this year’s 15th overall selection. Sanders is very active on both ends of the floor, alert at all times, and always attacking the glass. Those intangibles are things that will most definitely find him earning some floor time under Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles this year. Though it’s only one game and my first look at the Bucks rookie if I were to give you an outlook on Sanders’s first year with the Bucks here’s my evaluation: He’ll play spot minutes, be a spark plug used at the end of quarters giving guys quick breathers, instant energy. A very realistic first year comparison in terms of production and play I’d say he’ll be a lot like Suns forward Lou Amundson. With that being said, he obviously carries way more potential and talent moving forward with a bright future in this league. Just be patient and give him some time to transition and adjust to the NBA level of play.

An NBA Type Talent With Off-the-Court Question Marks

3. Sean Williams: Being a guy always high on the potential of Area 51, I definitely won’t count him out on making an NBA roster this season. If he can prove (and keep) his head on straight (which is a big if) there’s no question he’s an NBA type talent. He’s long, runs the floor like gazelle, can clean up around the rim, and of course he lives up to his nickname “Area 51” protecting the paint by swatting away shots. What I liked in his first game with the Bucks was his patience, his control, and his willingness to move the ball. On top of that he impressed me with his 15 foot look that he drilled and also threw his body around a bit and took two charges. Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct times to challenge a shot attempt. That feature of knowing when to block a shot could really benefit Bucks draftee Larry Sanders who doesn’t have the slightest clue when there’s a time and a place to leave his feet. Bucks fans, it’s a long shot, but don’t count out Williams on maybe earning that last roster spot. I wouldn’t bet on it, but his talent is intriguing and if there’s any organization that can help Williams change his off court habits it’s in Milwaukee. There’s no doubt the Bucks are great situation for Sean Williams future, the question is whether or not Williams is worth risking the team’s locker room atmosphere. If Xavier Henry or Paul George would have fallen to the Bucks at 15, I think Sean Williams maybe makes the team. But with Sanders on board, along with Tiny Gallon whose close with Brandon Jennings, I see Williams unfortunately not getting his second chance with the Bucks.

4. Deron Washington: A second round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in last year’s draft, Washington’s got an idea of what summer league’s all about this year. That showed in today’s game as Washington went 4-8 from the field, hitting 1 of 2 attempts from downtown, and 2-2 from the charity stripe. His contributions helped keep the Bucks in the ballgame and he hit some big shots. Washington finished with a solid 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, to go along with 2 steals. With continued play like this, Washington should find himself a nice look overseas next season.

The Former Marquette Standout

5.  Dominic James: The former standout point guard from Marquette is entering his redemption year after suffering a summer league ending injury just a day or two before he was set to participate in summer league last year with the Bucks. James didn’t have a pretty game by any means but his hard nosed, full court pressure defense and his efforts in getting good looks for those around him gives him my nod for my 5th and final spot. His highlighted plays include a buzzer beating high fade away jumper to end the first quarter of play, a nice no look dish hitting Darnell Jackson after drawing too, and his hustle play in which he sprinted all the way down on the defensive end, ultimately sacrificing his body leaping over the media table on the baseline. James isn’t quite a NBA level talent, but this type of play will definitely help his chances overseas, giving him more better opportunites in the future. I’m sure we’ll see Mr. James on an NBA Summer League roster next year as well. In the end, it’s great to see the Milwaukee Bucks giving exposure to Wisconsin area players: Dominic James, Jerry Smith, and Franklin.

The Bucks look to bounce back from their overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies. Game time is set from 8 ET and will be televised on NBATV.

Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: (@RossGeiger)

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall, Kentucky

Oh how a year changes things.

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. New Jersey Nets- Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

6. Golden State Warriors- Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

7. Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis, North Carolina

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

9. Utah Jazz- Luke Babbit, Nevada

10. Indiana Pacers- Greg Monroe, Georgetown

11. New Orleans Hornets- Gordon Hayward, Butler

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George, Fresno State

13. Toronto Raptors- Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Xavier Henry, Kansas

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

17. Chicago Bulls- Avery Bradley, Texas

18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Damian James, Texas

19. Boston Celtics- James Anderson, Oklahoma State

20. San Antonio Spurs- Craig Brackens, Iowa State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Seraphin, France

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Larry Sanders, VCU

24. Atlanta Hawks- Solomon Alabi, Florida State

Kentucky is well represented in the 1st round.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton, Kentucky

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Elliot Williams, Memphis

27. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Crawford, Xavier

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Dominique Jones, South Florida

29. Orlando Magic- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

30. Washington Wizards- Quincy Pondexter, Washington

31. New Jersey Nets- Keith “Tiny” Gallon, Oklahoma

32. Miami Heat- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech

33. Sacramento Kings- Ryan Richards, England

34. Portland Trail Blazers- Stanley Robinson, UConn

35. Washington Wizards- Willie Warren, Oklahoma

36. Detroit Pistons- Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

37. Milwaukee Bucks- Jarvis Varnado, Mississppi State

38. New York Knicks- Terrico White, Mississppi

39. New York Knicks- Trevor Booker, Clemson

40. Indiana Pacers- Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

Butler was the heart of WVU, and he now goes to the city where Butler University plays ball. Coincidence??? Yes.

41. Miami Heat- Armon Johnson, Nevada

42. Miami Heat- Dexter Pittman, Texas

43. Los Angeles Lakers- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

44. Milwaukee Bucks- Samardo Samuels, Louisville

45. Minnesota Timberwolves- Nemanja Bjelica, Serbia

46. Phoenix Suns- Thomas Heurtel- France

47. Milwaukee Bucks- Dwyane Collins, Miami

48. Miami Heat- Tibor Pleiss, Germany

Radford is also represented...

49. San Antonio Spurs- Art Parakhouski, Radford

50. Dallas Mavericks- Latavious Williams, USA (D-League)

51. Oklahoma City Thunder- Derrick Caracter, UTEP

52. Boston Celtics- Manny Harris, Michigan

53. Atlanta Hawks- Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

54. Los Angeles Clippers- Sherron Collins, Kansas

55. Utah Jazz- Jon Scheyer, Duke

56. Minnesota Timberwolves- Artem Zabelin, Russia

Looks like Kahn is going to steal Zabelin from Prokorhov

57. Indiana Pacers- Ben Uzoh, Tulsa

58. Los Angeles Lakers- Alexey Shved, Russia

59. Orlando Magic- Mikhail Torrance, Alabama

60. Phoenix Suns- Lazar Hayward, Marquette

Hey, Phoenix! DRAFT ME!!!!!!!!

Steve Kerr Out as Suns GM

Breaking news here to OTC, Steve Kerr, the GM of the Suns, will not be returning to the team next season. The exact reason is unknown at this point, but there is speculation that it has to do with Amar’e Stoudemire’s max deal. Stay tuned for more as we continue to get information.

Steve Kerr is not returning as GM of the Suns