The Phoenix Suns enter the post-lockout world of NBA basketball awkwardly tucked between a rock and a hard place.

Franchise superstar Steve Nash is a sun-sized uncertainty moving forward, as is the overall direction of the current roster.

After finishing 40-42 last season and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, the Suns' front office is looking to retool on the fly while still assembling a group of players that can compete for the prize.


Unfortunately for fans of the Purple and Orange, the championship window in the desert was closed shut the day Amar'e Stoudemire was snubbed by Robert Sarver, and has since been locked and boarded up.

Still, a fresh 66-game state of games awaits the always-exciting, always-entertaining Phoenix Suns in 2011-2012—well, as long as Nash is pounding the ball up the floor.

Join us as we present 10 bold predictions for the desert ballers this coming season.

Steve Nash Will Record His 10,00th Career Assist

The two-time MVP will record his 10,000th career assist in the NBA by season's end. Nash comes into 2011-2012 with 9,252 all-time.

Nash needs to average 11.3 assists per game for all 66 games to hit the mark. He led the league in assists per game last season at 11.4.

With 10,000 assists to his name, Nash would be fifth all-time behind John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson.

Nash is a lock to pass The Big O, Oscar Robertson, for fifth all-time on the list this season; Robertson retired with 9,887.

Phoenix Will Trade for Jason Richardson

The Suns will need a consistent scorer in 2011-2012, and Jason Richardson can provide just that.

Richardson was averaging 19.3 points per game with the Suns early last season before he was traded to Orlando after just 25 games.

The Suns have seen firsthand what J-Rich can bring to their ballclub, and how much better he can be playing in Gentry's system with a floor general like Steve Nash.

The Suns are not likely to sign him in free agency, but would trade for him at some point before the deadline considering the only reason they parted ways with him the first place was to dump Hedo Turkoglu's mammoth contract in exchange for Vince Carter's expiring one.

Marcin Gortat Will Average a Double-Double

Marcin Gortat will average a double-double in 2011-2012. The Polish Hammer will only improve while playing a full season with dime-master Steve Nash, who will work wonders with Gortat in the pick-and-roll game.

Gortat averaged 13.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season after coming over from Orlando via a mid-December trade.

He started 12 games for the Suns late last season and will be a consistent force in the Phoenix frontcourt this year.

Phoenix Will Rank in the Top 20 Defensively

Anyone who follows the NBA knows that it is beyond bold to suggest that the Suns will best at least 10 teams in defense this season, but don't be fooled by the past.

Phoenix ranked second to last in 2010-2011 in scoring defense, allowing 105.9 points per game to the opposition.

However, two seasons ago they ranked just 26th, allowing 105.3 points per game, and still went all the way to the Western Conference finals, pushing the L.A. Lakers to six games before falling short.

The difference?

Phoenix scored 110.2 points per game in 2009-2010 compared to just 105.0 last season.

With less offensive output in 2011-2012, the Suns will have to D-up in order to be competitive.

Channing Frye Will Shoot Better Than 45 Percent from Downtown

With Marcin Gortat demanding attention in the paint, third-year Sun Channing Frye will excel from beyond the three-point line, shooting better than 45 percent for the 2011-2012 season.

Frye shot just 39 percent from distance last season after nailing 43.9 percent of his long-range bombs in 2009-2010, his first season in Phoenix.

He made just one fewer three-pointer last season than he did in his first, but he attempted 47 more.

With the exception of former Sun Jason Richardson, no one has made or attempted more three-pointers per game than Frye the past two years in Phoenix.

Alvin Gentry Will Win Coach of the Year

The underrated Alvin Gentry will be brought to the attention of the league this year when he snags Coach of the Year honors at the end of the shortened season.

Gentry is 112-83 with Phoenix after less than two-and-a-half seasons at the helm. That's a winning percentage of 57.4 percent.

Not too shabby.

Gentry will have his boys playing better on both sides of the ball in 2011-2012, and will be rewarded, as defensive specialist Elston Turner joins the rest of the staff on the bench this season.

Markieff Morris Will Start At Least Ten Games

Rookie forward Markieff Morris will earn a starting role late in 2011-2012, and he'll have at least 10 career NBA starts to his name by season's end.

The former Kansas Jayhawk was taken 13th overall in the 2011 NBA draft, and is expected to provide some help on the boards for a team that finished 23rd in rebounding last season.

With seven-footer Robin Lopez struggling on the glass, and Channing Frye's tendency to stray away from the paint on both sides of the ball, Morris will find his way into the starting line up alongside Marcin Gortat in the Suns' frontcourt.

Phoenix Suns Will Split Season-Series with the Dallas Mavericks

The Suns are set to square off with the defending world champion Dallas Mavericks four times in 2011-2012, and they will come away victorious at least twice.

Phoenix was swept by Dallas in four meetings last season, losing by 15, six, eight and 25 points.

The season series opens up January 4 at Dallas, and finishes up in Phoenix on March 8.

Surprisingly, the Suns play the Mavericks three times before the end of January, which means they have a chance to catch the heavy-legged Mavs early on.

Phoenix visits Dallas for the second time on January 23, and hosts the 2010-2011 champs on January 30.

Phoenix Will Make the Playoffs as the No. 8 Seed Out in the West

The Suns will be all smiles this April when they clinch a postseason berth for just the second time in four years.

Steve Nash and Company will finish with a record of 38-28, which means they will have won 57.6 percent of their games in 2011-2012, enough for a No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Over the past five NBA seasons, the No. 8 seed out West has finished with an average win percentage of 57.6, and that's the magic number for Phoenix this season.

With the Hornets soon to be parting ways with PG Chris Paul, the Suns will shoot past New Orleans in the standings and earn a playoff spot.

Steve Nash Will Re-Sign with the Suns

The most beloved Sun of Phoenix since Charles Barkley understands better than any NBA veteran that a championship is far from guaranteed these days.

Just ask LeBron James and the Miami Heat about that.

Nash has been on the record as saying he would like to finish his career out in the desert.

He will turn 38 this February, and his loyalty to the fans and love for his teammates will lead him to re-sign at season's end with the ballclub that originally drafted him back in 1996.


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