Since the Phoenix Suns were eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday by the Utah Jazz, something must have gone wrong. But what? Actually there were a variety of reasons why.
Here are five reasons for why the Suns aren’t participating in the 2012 postseason.
1. No star offensive player: A team cannot continue to have success late in games, towards the end of the season and into the playoffs if they do not have a player that can take over the offensive load and create his own shot. Phoenix does not have such a player.
Marcin Gortat is their leading scorer averaging 15.5 points per game, followed by Jared Dudley at 12.7 and Steve Nash at 12.5. While balanced scoring is nice, at least one of those players has to be able to put the game on his shoulders and create shots for himself, winning the game with consistent late-game scoring.
2.Late development of team chemistry: With almost no training camp and a compressed season with barely any practice time, a team’s chemistry is going to suffer. With the acquisition of Michael Redd, Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price as well as the addition of rookie Markieff Morris, it takes time to build cohesion.
3.Untimely injuries: Despite leading the league with only 15 games missed due to injury, the injuries that Phoenix incurred were untimely and contributed to derailing their season. Nash only missed four games this season, but the Suns went 1-3 while he was sidelined. Most recently Hill’s knee injury loomed large as his defensive presence was missed. Channing Frye’s shoulder held him out of the Utah game, and the Jazz frontline dominated in his absence. In addition, Gortat’s early-season thumb injury affected his play during a 2-4 start.
4.Dropping games to bad teams early in the season: It all started with a loss to the New Orleans Hornets at home in the first game of the season. Back-to-back home losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Jersey Nets in January along with home losses to the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors turned out to be devastating to the Suns’ playoff hopes.
5.Shooting woes: Channing Frye, who was being counted on to carry a bigger portion of the offensive load, had a sub-par season compared to last year. Frye is averaging 2.2 points per game less than a year ago and has seen a substantial dip in his shooting percentage as well.
With a final meaningless game against San Antonio remaining, Phoenix’s focus now shifts from the postseason to the offseason. The organization faces key decisions about the futures of stars Steve Nash and Grant Hill. Both are unrestricted free agents in the twilight of their careers.