In this week’s edition of Rising Sun/ Setting Sun, we discuss how Jason Richardson’s and Robin Lopez’s play last week categorizes the evolution process and struggles associated with fully turning the page on the Amare Stoudemire era.
Richardson led the scoring attack in all three games this week, finishing with an average of 26.7 points. His antics even single-handedly pulled out the middle game this week against Memphis. He shot over 50 percent from beyond, in nailing 12 three-pointers. His athleticism was on display throughout as the Suns were able to pull their season record to .500 at week’s end.
Someone should really inform Lopez that the season has begun. Lopez managed just 11 points and 8 rebounds over the three game span. To put that into perspective, point guard Steve Nash had 14 rebounds this past week. His minutes have been slashed as his play has continued to disappoint. At some point this season, the Suns will need something out of the center’s position if this season will turn into anything promising.
All the focus has been upon words such as bonding and cohesion. So naturally the Suns were not deterred by early defeats and instead focusing on the growth process.
“The biggest thing is cohesion. It’s just going to take a little time,” says Nash, “I think we’re getting better. We’re not there yet but we’re getting better.”
Nash has been doing this for a long time, thus fully aware of the transition period expected after the departure of a player of Stoudemire’s caliber. The key is to not get caught up in early tribulations and work on improving nightly.
With this being said, players need to embrace their new roles. Jason Richardson has done just that in taking the title of main scoring threat immediately. Every good team in the Association has their main threat identified.
Lakers, Kobe. Celtics, Pierce. Thunder, Durant. When healthy it was certainly Amare in that role. J-Rich has shown full capability to be that #1 option.
Others have stepped up too. Dragic continues to flourish as backup to the dynamic Nash. Warrick is taking full advantage of his so-called ‘last chance’ in the Association.
Conversely, Robin Lopez has displayed minimal effort in sleepwalking through the early contests. It is fully inexcusable that he plays in that man when anchoring a starting frontcourt of smallish forwards Hill and Turkoglu.
Hedo also seems to be struggling in this new role as a shooting power forward. Suns management knew he would be exploited on the defensive end, but expected him to maximize that mismatch on the offensive end. Instead, he has apparently become allergic to the paint.
Perhaps it will take a while to the stragglers to buy into the new system. If so, this team will make beautiful music eventually. But right now, it is awkward to witness half the squad gelling and the other half smelling.
“It’s going to take us a month, two months, to get to the point where we really know who we are,” summarizes Nash. Adds Richardson, “We’ve got a long way to go and every game we get better.”