By Bryan Jeon
The Phoenix Suns have gone from first to fifth in the Western Conference after losing four of their last seven games. Shaquille O’Neal is averaging 10.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in five games with the Suns and posted right around his season averages with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks on Wednesday. Apparently, people thought that Shaq would be able to jump right into his role with no adjustment time and that they would be able to judge how much the Suns really got out of the trade. Let me tell you, Shaq is far from finished improving and especially won’t shoot .412 (14-34) from the charity strike for the rest of the season.
For you fantasy followers, the biggest beneficiary of the trade is, without a doubt, Amare Stoudemire. The Suns’ new power forward is by far, the Suns’ main offensive weapon. He hasn’t scored less than 24 points in any game and recorded a block in all but two games this month. If you’re looking for that big man down the stretch, I would buy high on this guy if I have to. How high? A look at his season averages and 11 games in February:
Season: 23.9 points, .586 FG%, .795 FT%, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks
February: 29.3 points, .561 FG%, .891 FT%, 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks
For someone to average 29 and 11 would near top honor. For comparison, LeBron James averages 30 points and 8 rebounds while Dwight Howard averages 22 points and 14 rebounds. And there is no reason why Amare’s dominance should not continue.
Results (with current conference rank in parenthesis):
2/13 @ Golden State (8) – L 120-118
2/14 Dallas (6) – W 109-97
2/20 Lakers (1) – L 130-124
2/22 Boston (1) – W 85-77
2/24 Detroit (2) – L 116-86
2/26 @ Memphis (14) – W 127-113
2/27 @ New Orleans (3) – L 120-103
Season PF: 109.4
7-game set PF: 107.4
Season PA: 104.6
7-game set PA: 110.4
On their 7-game set, the Suns played six of the top ten teams in the NBA, going 2-4. For all you Lakers fans, I think the next team I’ll follow will be the new top team in the Western Conference. Watch for it on March 11…the collapse.