Throughout the season, Sonics Beat will ask five key questions about that evening's matchup of a team site writer, blogger or other expert on the opposing squad. Tonight, we kick it off with Brad G. Faye representing the team at Suns.com.
What are the expectations for the Suns this year? How paramount is a championship as a goal?
Adding Grant Hill to a team which won 61 games last season, the expectations are again to help the organization to its first-ever NBA championship. However, as we’ve learned these past few seasons, in order to win a title a lot of things have to fall your way – some of which you have no control over. The best you can do is put a quality product on the floor and the Suns have done that.
What can Sonics fans expect from Kurt Thomas?
I'm going to avoid the obvious in terms of Kurt's work ethic and his leadership ability. Kurt is a funny guy whose company is always appreciated, be it with teammates, coaches or the media. He also doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is, which is an overlooked attribute.
How much will Phoenix's off-season changes, including the loss of Thomas and the addition of Hill, change the team?
You can never argue that losing a player like Thomas is a good thing. Hill, however, brings in that same positive attitude and leadership that Thomas provided these past couple of seasons. Hill, however, is also a better fit for Mike D'Antoni's system. He not only runs the floor well but is very underrated in terms of his decision-making ability. With each practice, Hill continues to show why he could be headed to another All-Star appearance come February.
Amare Stoudemire hit a three-pointer in the preseason against the Sonics. Has he really added that to his game? Any signs he will be slowed at all by the arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent?
Following their playoff elimination last season, STAT was the first guy in the gym looking to improve his game. He's shown an ability to knock down the outside shot so far during practice, but only time will tell how that translates to actual game action. As far as the knee surgery, Stoudemire has always answered questions with his play on the court and this season will be no different. Having played a full season now with guys like Raja Bell and Boris Diaw, he could be better than the All-NBA First Team player we saw last season.
What's one thing we don't know about the Suns?
You may want to sit down for this, but the Suns actually play defense. From a team standpoint, Steve Nash is a very underrated defender. He can cause point guards to make bad decisions which allows players like Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa to ignite the fast break. We’re not arguing the Suns are among the greatest defensive teams of all time, but keep in mind when you’re scoring points as quickly as they do, you’re bound to give the opponent a lot of possessions. The more possessions an opponent has, it seems only logical they’re going to put some points up on the board as well.