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The thankless job of replacing point guard Steve Nash grew harder with the loss of Channing Frye, who was diagnosed with an enlarged heart in September and is expected to miss the season. The three-point-shooting big man created all kinds of space in Phoenix's pick-and-roll offense, which will now be run by an old face: Goran Dragic, a 26-year-old who spent his first 2½2 seasons as Nash's backup.
Dragic, who averaged 18.0 points and 8.4 assists in 28 starts last year with Houston, will have to incorporate a trio of newcomers into the offense: hardworking Luis Scola, who was amnestied by the Rockets, and underperforming forwards Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson from the Timberwolves. In addition to Marcin Gortat, who gives the Suns their best paint presence since Shaquille O'Neal, Dragic will rely on Jared Dudley, a versatile leader who'll need to stay upbeat as he discovers there are more holes on the roster than he can fill.
COACH: Alvin Gentry (5th season with Suns)
2011--12 RECORD: 33--33 (3rd in Pacific)
OFFENSE: 98.4 ppg (8th)
DEFENSE: 98.6 ppg (21st)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 31.6 ppg (2nd)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
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