The way I figure it, the Suns need to win somewhere between 18 and 20 of their final 28 games to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. It’s a tough assignment, but in the suddenly depleted Western Conference, it’s at least feasible. In my opinion, even more so after the trade the Suns pulled off on Thursday. In exchange for backup point guard Goran Dragic, who is stable but nothing special, and a future first-round pick, Phoenix landed Houston Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks, who, potentially, could add a ton of scoring punch off the Suns’ bench. Sure, Brooks presents a bit of a problem on the defensive end. He’s severely undersized, and much like Steph Curry and Monta Ellis in Golden State, when Brooks and Nash are on the floor together they will be at a monster defensive disadvantage against opposing teams’ bigger backcourts. But let’s be honest, the Suns aren’t winning games on the defensive end. Never have, and at least for the foreseeable future, they never will. The only way the Suns win is to outscore you. Period. When Phoenix scores under 100 points they are a pretty subpar NBA team. And that’s being kind. When they go over 100, however, they can play with most anyone on a given night. It’s not brain surgery.
Brooks (who, last year, averaged over 19 points and five assists while becoming one of only six players in league history to tally 200 assists and 400 3-pointers in the same season) will add to a team that threw up 107 on Atlanta Wednesday night to open the second half on the right foot. And if Channing Frye and Jared Dudley continue their hot shooting from beyond the arc, and if Robin Lopez can provide at least a bit of emergency defense at the rim to combat the Suns’ lack of perimeter defense (otherwise known as Vince Carter and Steve Nash), I think the Suns have a shot to pull off a second-half mini miracle and make the playoffs. After all, Carmelo is gone. D-Will and Jerry Sloan are too. And Rudy Gay is hurt in Memphis. If ever there were a time for the Suns to start moving up from their current 10th-place slot, it’s now. All in all, the second half couldn’t have started better for Phoenix. They got a win against Atlanta and an upgrade in Brooks. Now they go on the road until March 8, when Brooks’ former team, the Rockets, will come to U.S. Airways. We should know a lot more by then.
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Written by Brad Botkin