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Sunny days ahead in Phoenix
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For the Phoenix Suns, post-Nash is not necessarily synonymous with post-apocalyptic.

While it remains to be seen whether Phoenix made the right moves to prepare itself for the future after trading point guard Steve Nash to the Lakers, the Suns should have plenty of viable fantasy options this season.

On paper, the Suns have a stronger roster now than in any of the last two seasons following Amare Stoudemire's departure for New York. And it still starts at the top.

To replace Nash, Phoenix picked up one of his former backups in Goran Dragic, who starred with the Houston Rockets last season after Kyle Lowry was hospitalized with a bacterial infection.

Dragic made 26 starts from March 10 to April 26 and he averaged 18.2 points, 8.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game in that span. Now back with the team he played with from 2008-11, Dragic has the point guard job all to himself.

The 26-year-old is going at an ADP of 32.9 in Yahoo! drafts, 10th among point guards, but I could see him posting similar numbers to Kyrie Irving (16.1 ADP) and Brandon Jennings (25.4) and better totals than Mike Conley (30.6).

Dragic's supporting cast is as good as any of those players' but not so good that it will take away from his fantasy value. Dragic will have a pair of solid frontcourt players to dump the ball to in Marcin Gortat and former Rockets teammate Luis Scola, but neither of those guys needs to dominate the offensive touches to be effective.

Gortat has been one of the best centers in the NBA since he got out of Dwight Howard's shadow in December 2010 when he was dealt to Phoenix. Gortat averaged 13 ppg and 9.3 rpg in 55 games with the Suns that season and broke out last year with 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

Surprisingly, Gortat is being drafted at an ADP of 44.8, more than 20 spots behind Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (21.6) even though Gasol averaged 14.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg and 1.9 bpg last season. True, Gasol had 3.1 assists per game to Gortat's 0.9, but I hardly think that is worth a difference of 23 picks.

Scola, meanwhile, was waived via the amnesty clause this offseason as part of Houston's failed bid to pry Howard from Orlando. The forward became the best player by far to be cut via the amnesty clause since the cap-saving amendment was added in the last NBA lockout.

Scola saw his scoring average drop for the first time in his career but he still put up 15.5 points and 6.5 boards per game, numbers that should be easily duplicable with the Suns.

Phoenix also has two easily attainable shooting guards in Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown. Both players provide more than one 3-pointer per game and should score 11-13 ppg apiece. Dudley is particularly valuable for his rebounding (4.6 rpg) from the fantasy guard spot.

Michael Beasley is the wild card, a role the unpredictable forward should be used to playing by now. Beasley signed with the Suns after seeing his scoring average decline from 19.2 to 11.5 in one season.

Beasley only played 23 minutes and took 10.6 shots per contest last season after playing 32 minutes and averaging 17.1 shots in 2010-11.

We should see his ppg get back to the 14-15 range, which will serve fantasy owners well when combined with 5-6 rebounds per game. However, it's difficult to see him providing much else -- he's never averaged one 3-pointer per game and his career totals of 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.6 blocks leave much to be desired.

Overall, Beasley is nothing more than a late-round lottery ticket, but even if he's a bust it shouldn't prevent the rest of the players in the Suns' rotation from producing for your fantasy team at an inexpensive cost.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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