COACH: Mike D'Antoni | 2006-07: 61-21
Phoenix Suns

The sun is rising on another title run.
Barry Gossage/Getty Images/NBAE
Phoenix fans really wish Mr. O'Brien had a doorbell.

See, the Suns have been knocking on the door of the Larry O’Brien residence for the last three years and nobody has answered … yet.

Will this finally be the year?

After Steve Nash coming in and resurrecting the franchise with back-to-back MVPs; Amare Stoudemire rising from the ashes of reconstructive knee surgeries; Boris Diaw and Grant Hill coming; Joe Johnson and Kurt Thomas going; and two playoff exits in three years at the hands of the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs, is Phoenix at the end of its rope or right on the cusp of glory?

Sure, “defense wins championships,” but the Suns are trying to prove that offense can win one too.

Assuming Shawn Marion realizes the gift he has (he gets paid to play with Steve Nash!) then there is no reason why the Suns shouldn’t vie for 60-plus wins and be a title contender again.

It would be easy for Phoenix to be left searching for the answers to many, “What if?” questions after last season’s playoff exit in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Spurs, but the past is past and with Nash set to turn 34 in February, there isn’t much daylight left in the Suns’ title chase.

Backcourt
Raja Bell starts with Mr. MVP and his outside shooting combined with perimeter defense makes him one of the most valuable role players in the league. Leandro Barbosa really had a break-out season a year ago and is a game changer when he comes in off the bench. Phoenix doesn’t go much deeper than this, however D.J. Strawberry who the Suns drafted out of Maryland, could see some court time in defensive situations.

Frontcourt
Grant Hill should fill the void left by James Jones as he shot 51.8 percent from the field last year, which should only go up with the Suns’ free-wheeling style. Diaw has been asked to play everything from point guard to back-up center and approaches every task with equal grace. When Amare gets in foul trouble, Diaw is a great change of pace at the five, sort of like a thunder/lightning running back duo in football.
-- Dave McMenamin
Season tickets for the 2007-08 Suns season are sold out, but a limited number of single-game tickets were held for the general public and are now on sale.

Stoudemire
News broke at the start of training camp that Amare Stoudemire was going to under go yet another knee surgery, this time of the arthroscopic variety.

That gust of wind you just felt was the state of Arizona collectively holding its breath.

During the 2004-05 season, just the third of his career, Stoudemire captured the imagination of the basketball world as he posted averages of 26.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The following season he played just three games while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and STAT supporters were left wondering if his brilliance would remain a flash in the pan or if his star would shine in Phoenix again.

He didn’t just came back, he came back, back, back, back, back like a Chris Berman homerun call as he made the All-NBA First Team in 2006-07 with averages of 20.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. After an impressive stint with the U.S.A. Basketball Team this summer and honing his midrange jumper, Amare seemed poised to be better than ever in 2007-08. Will the injury bug derail him again?
-- Dave McMenamin

THE STAT
33-2 The Suns went 33-2 over one 35-game stretch in 2006-07 (Nov. 20 -Jan. 28). Only three other teams in NBA history went 33-2 over a 35-game span in one season: 1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers, 1995-96 Bulls, 1971-72 L.A. Lakers (34-1).
MIKE D'ANTONI

D'Antoni
Sixth Season, Fifth with Phoenix
Career Record: 212-145 (.594)
Playoffs: Three times, 25-21 (.543)
His starting power forward has hinted at wanting to be moved and his starting center is going under the knife, but you can bet that Mike D'Antoni isn't anything but his normal cool self. D'Antoni, along with Nash, have permeated a stability in Phoenix through their even keel personas.
-- Dave McMenamin
KNOW YOUR SUNS
Leandro Barbosa stands 6-3 but has a 6-10 wingspan.
They added Grant Hill which gives them some added depth, but they lose Kurt Thomas who was their best interior defender.
Stoudemire is not a defensive presence in the post and I think the subtraction of Kurt Thomas will take something from them. Look at how well Thomas played in the playoffs. He was a key component on that team. He’s a huge loss that I don’t think people are really looking at.
Nash keeps himself in great shape. He turned his career around when he started training differently and getting himself in great shape. I think he’ll play at an MVP-type of level for probably the next two or three years.
Grant Hill gives them another ball handler when Steve Nash is off the floor so now if Barbosa is in the game with him, there is someone to take care of the ball handling duties which I think is critical because Barbosa handling the ball to set up the offense takes away who he is.
-- Western Conference Scout
PG - Steve Nash: He may be aging, but Nash is still the second best fantasy PG.
SG - Raja Bell: If anyone loses minutes to Grant Hill, it will be Bell.
SF - Grant Hill: Perfect home for Hill, but is this the season he misses significant time to injury?
PF - Shawn Marion: An unhappy Marion makes you think twice in the first half of the first round.
C - Amare Stoudemire: Injury questions are behind him. Officially the top fantasy center.
Suns Fantasy Preview | Fantasy Home
Record: 58-24, 1st in Western Conf.
Playoffs: Beat Boston in the NBA Finals, 4-3
Scoring Leader: A. Stoudemire, 23.3 PPG
Rebounding Leader: S. Marion, 10.7 RPG
Assist Leader: S. Nash, 12.2 APG
Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2006-07 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Steve Nash 18.6 3.5 11.6
SG Raja Bell 14.7 3.2 2.5
SF Grant Hill 14.4 3.6 2.1
PF Shawn Marion 17.5 9.8 1.7
C Amare Stoudemire 20.4 9.6 1.0

G Marcus Banks 4.9 0.8 1.3
G Leandro Barbosa 18.1 2.7 4.0
G Boris Diaw 9.7 4.3 4.8
G D.J. Strawberry -- -- --
F Alando Tucker -- -- --
G Leandro Barbosa Brazil
G Boris Diaw France
G Steve Nash Canada
F-C Sean Marks New Zealand
F Grant Hill Free agent
G D.J. Strawberry Draft
F Alando Tucker Draft
C Pat Burke Free agent
F James Jones Trade
G-F Jalen Rose Free agent
F-C Kurt Thomas Free agent
PPG Amare Stoudemire 20.4
RPG Shawn Marion 9.8
APG Steve Nash 11.6
SPG Shawn Marion 1.95
BPG Shawn Marion 1.53
Points Scored 110.2 (1st)
Points Allowed 102.90 (23rd)
Field-Goal Percentage .494 (1st)
Opponents' FG% .457 (14th)
Rebounding Diff. -2.34 (24th)
NBA Seasons: 39
Playoff Appearances: 27
NBA Finals Appearances: 2
Championships: 0 | Last Title: n/a
Best Season: 1992-93 and 2004-05, 62-20
Season Opener:
Nov 1. @ Seattle (10:30 p.m. ET)
Home Opener:
Nov. 2 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET)
Longest Road Trip(s):
5 games in 7 days: Dec. 2-8
@ NYK, @ IND, @ TOR, @ WAS, @ MIN
Longest home stand(s):
6 games in 13 days: Jan. 29 – Feb. 10
ATL, SAS, CHA, NOH, SEA, WAS
Buy tickets | Full Suns schedule
TV: UPN 45, FSAZ
Radio: KTAR 620 AM
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: East Valley Tribune | Arizona Republic | Arizona Daily Star