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Suns are second-worst out West? ESPN writer thinks so

Optimistic Suns fans may want to avoid ESPN.com for a
little while.

Monday, Chad Ford wrote that the
future is bleak for the team
, and Tuesday saw John Hollinger write the same
thing about the team’s present.

According to Hollinger, the Suns will finish the season
14th out of 15 Western Conference teams with a 24-42
record. Ouch.

The Suns weren’t that bad last season, but the only
changes for this season appear to be downgrades. They
replaced Aaron Brooks with Sebastian Telfair at backup
point guard, and the ghost of Vince Carter with Shannon
Brown at the 2. On a positive note, the Suns drafted power
forward Markieff Morris — adding him to Marcin Gortat and
7-footer Robin Lopez gives the Suns a better frontcourt
than in recent seasons.

But with Stoudemire and Jason Richardson gone, there’s
just no scoring pop around Nash. Channing Frye endured a
frustrating campaign last season and historically has
performed much worse as a power forward, where’s he’s
slotted for 2011-12. Nash and Hill are both in their late
30s and obvious risks for decline, especially with such a
punishing schedule.

Hollinger has not been the Suns’ biggest fan over recent
years, often times lamenting the team’s move from
contender to also-ran, and this piece is really no
different.

However, that doesn’t mean his points are without merit,
as on paper the Suns don’t appear to be any better than
last year’s team, and key players like Nash and Hill are a
year older. Can they stay healthy? If they do and players
like Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley surprise, the Suns
could easily surpass Hollinger’s expectations.

If not, though, his prediction may be right on the money.