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Suns analyst: Team would benefit from veteran experience, clutch performer

LISTEN: Eddie Johnson, Suns analyst

It’s hard to critique a team that exceeds everyone’s expectations.

The Phoenix Suns turned last year’s 25-57 record into a 48-34 campaign this season, just missing the playoffs by one game.

Suns analyst Eddie Johnson says for the team to continue their winning ways, the Suns still have room to get better.

“You always improve in the offseason,” Johnson told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “That’s first and foremost. Second, I think it’s pretty obvious they have to get more physical. They are a great shooting basketball team and they have guys that can get to the hole.

“I think for them, it’s getting dirt workers, finding some how, someway to get a guy that can play the low post and that can command a half a double team, or that can actually catch it down there with his back to the basket and do something, especially in late game situations. I think that’s the area they need to improve because they have the shooting, the speed, the winning mentality and a deep bench. Now it is about veteran leadership. If they can go out and find a way to get a star to come in and coexist in that front line, fine. But I think they aren’t far away from being a competitive team. This year, they beat some teams that we probably would say they shouldn’t have beaten. But we know they lost some games they shouldn’t have lost. That’s because, I think, down the stretch in games, you got to have that star player.”

Johnson noted that while the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks have star caliber players on their rosters like Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the Suns didn’t have that guy on the team to take over.

However, that doesn’t mean one won’t emerge. Johnson thinks the clutch trait can be developed, and it may already exist on the Suns.

“I think it takes a special person to have that,” Johnson said. “Now, Gerald Green has it. He has that forgetful gene where he doesn’t worry about it. That’s a good guy to have on your team because who cares about field goal percentage? You want a guy that feels confident that he can make shots. That’s something the Suns have in Gerald and Goran. I think Eric Bledsoe will develop it. They do have a couple of guys that don’t worry about it, and they just put it up with confidence and that’s what you need in games down the stretch.”