After having the chance to watch Phoenix play a couple of times in the last week, it is interesting to compare the late-season challenges that they and Duke both face. Foremost, both teams are faced with integrating big men, O'Neal and Zoubek, that offer potential benefits but also force changes in the style of play that each team has grown accustomed to. The N and O has a good article today about how Duke is working to integrate Zoubek:
For both teams, one of the advantages of adding a true center is that the players that have been forced to play somewhat out of position, Amare Stoudamire for Phoenix and Kyle Singler for Duke, can return to their "natural 4" positions. However, at least some of their success results from the mismatches that Stoudamire and Singler can exploit when they are defended by larger, less mobile opponents.
Will they be as successful when matched against other "4's" ? Stoudamire seems to be figuring it out pretty well- he had 36 points and 11 rebounds last night as Phoenix beat Golden State 123-115, but Shaq only played 14 minutes.
Let's hope Greg Paulus does his best Steve Nash imitation for the next 4 weeks, as well.