08 August 2012
After being one of the busiest teams during this offseason, the Suns roster heading into next year is pretty much set. Phoenix will more than likely have a starting five of Goran Dragic, Shannon Brown, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat with some quality talent coming off the bench for Alvin Gentry.
The only real remaining hole on the current roster is the backup center position after the trade of Robin Lopez to New Orleans a few weeks back. Channing Frye has experience playing the five, but there is no guarantee that he will be ready for the start of the season after having offseason shoulder surgery. Scola could spell Gortat as well, but he is best suited to play the four.
The Suns front office will more than likely look to address that situation with the start of training camp not too far away. Here is a list of my top five options who I believe the Suns should look at for the backup center spot.
Mehmet Okur: This Turkey native has always been a guy who I thought would fit perfectly for the Suns. A former Western Conference All-star, Okur has length, can rebound and has great range on his jumper for a seven-footer. He is a career 46 percent shooter from the field, including 37.5 percent shooter from behind the arc. Only problem with the big man is he has had to deal with injuries for two straight seasons now. He ruptured his Achilles tendon during a game in April 2010 and really hasn't been the same since. He has only played in 30 games over the course of the past two seasons with the Jazz and Nets. At 33 years old, Okur's best seasons are behind him, but he can still be a quality guy to have coming off your bench at this stage of his career.
Greg Oden: Some of you reading this probably think I am crazy, but hear me out for just a second. It is well documented how many games that Oden has missed since entering the league out of Ohio State in 2007. The former first overall pick has missed every game over the past two seasons and only played 21 games with Portland during the 2009-2010 season. If any training staff can turn around Oden's career though, it is definitely that of the Suns. Long known as the best training staff in basketball and possibily in all of sports, Aaron Nelson and company kept guys like Grant Hill and Steve Nash at the top of their games well into their late 30's and helped give Shaquille O'Neal some life at the end of his career. An incentive based deal to Oden would be a low risk, high reward situation for the Suns in my view.
Jermaine O'Neal: Yet another guy on this list who has had to deal with injury issues over the course of his career. For a stretch, there weren't too many big men better than JON, but knee injuries have taken over his career and have turned him into a reserve player. O'Neal only played 49 games the last two seasons with Boston and set career lows in pretty much every category due to a big decline in minutes. Despite being 34 heading into next season, the former first round pick can still help you on the glass and blocking shots. Averaging just under 23 minutes per game last season with the Celtics, O'Neal still managed to average 1.7 blocks per contest. He might be leaning towards retirement right now though.
Kyrylo Fesenko: He is definitely the least known name on this list, but he might have the most upside. From Ukraine, the 25-year-old has never averaged more than nine minutes a game over his five-year career since coming into the league back in 2007. Despite his limited playing time, this quote from John Hollinger got me pretty excited for the possibility of Fesenko being a Sun. "The best-kept secret in the NBA right now is Fesenko’s monstrous defensive stats. It’s not that one or two metrics point out his defensive value; it’s that all of them do, without any pointing to the contrary." A defensive presence is something that the Suns desperately need on their roster, so adding Fesenko would make a lot of sense.
Chris Andersen: Once a huge fan favorite and one of the better defensive big men coming off the bench in the league, Andersen has fallen out of favor in George Karl's rotation as Denver has added lots of younger options over the last couple seasons. That doesn't mean Andersen can't play anymore though. He can be a good defender where he can rebound and block shots. Even in limited action, Birdman as fans call him still averaged 4.6 boards and 1.4 blocks while averaging only 15 minutes per contest last season with the Nuggets. At the very least, he would bring an interesting personality to the fold for the Suns with all his tattoos and crazy hair
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