Arizona Sportspage

November 12, 2009 3:03 AM

Small moves come up big for Suns

Steve Nash photo.jpg
The Phoenix Suns are the NBA's best story over the first eight games of the season

The Suns, after battling identity problems and missing the playoffs last season, are off to an 8-1 start to the season. Phoenix has the league's best record and has returned to the fast-paced, explosive style of basketball which helped it become one of the NBA's best teams from 2005-2007. Phoenix already has its signature wins. A road victory over the Boston Celtics (their lone loss this season) and a win at home over the New Orleans Hornets. Phoenix's next challenge will come in the form of the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Staples Center.

Most of the summer was filled with blockbuster trades and  free agent signings. Dallas acquired Shawn Marion. Orlando traded for Vince Carter. Ron Artest signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon claimed big deals with the Detroit Pistons. Allen Iverson settled for the Memphis Grizzlies. The San Antonio Spurs traded for Richard Jefferson and the Toronto Raptors stole (literally) Helo Turkoglu from the Portland Trailblazers in a free-agent deal.

The Suns?

None of their moves made many waves. Maybe a few ripples here and there. Phoenix didn't trade Amare Stoudemire. It drafted Earl Clark out of Louisville, re-signed Grant Hill and acquired Channing Frye, via free agency.

So far, all of the moves have worked. Stoudemire, healthy after an eye injury late last season, is putting up good numbers, grabbing eight rebounds and scoring 18 points per a game. As the season progresses, you have to believe Stoudemire will only improve. The Suns may have pulled off two of the most effective signings of the summer, without anyone knowing it. Hill, shunning offers from other teams, has returned to become the well-rounded player he was earlier in his career. Hill is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds. He's recorded double-doubles in three of the Suns' eight games. Frye has made an immediate impact. Not the prototypical center, Frye is shooting 43 percent from three-point range and scoring 13 points per a game.

The Suns aren't the most talented team in the NBA, which is probably the reason why they weren't mentioned as a potential playoff team before the season began. They are, however, a team with some of the best pieces, which fits into what they like to do.

Making pieces fit is the problem the Suns ran into a season ago. After trying to slow the game down last season, the Suns are back to running at break-neck speed and they have the team built to do it. Steve Nash, after watching his numbers fall to 15 points and nine assists per a game last season, is off to a hot start, looking like the 2005 version of himself. He's averaging 18 points and 13 assists per a game. Nash has recorded double-figures in assists in six of Phoenix's eight games. He has two games with 20 assists and another with 17 assists. The Suns' fast-paced style has always been perfect for him. Phoenix has a finisher in Jason Richardson and a player who can play inside and outside in Hill. Frye can open up the floor with his ability to shoot from the outside. He's also good in transition and Stoudemire, who can also run the floor and finish, is capable of doing the dirty work down low.

The Suns, this early into the season, have shown they have great chemistry. They compliment each other as well. The Suns didn't need to pull off any big moves. Phoenix just needed to find a way to form the right type of team and let time mold it. The smaller adjustments the Suns chose to make, so far, are proving to be the biggest moves of the offseason.

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