Ding column: 20 reasons the Suns will flame out Even though Phoenix still stands shakily among the elite today, the Suns won't look so good by the time the season ends. KEVIN DING They remain right there at the top of the Western Conference because so many opponents simply can't deal with their skill, but everything behind the scenes feels wrong for the Phoenix Suns. Here are the top 20 reasons the Suns, for all their talent and experience, won't win the West this season: 1. They can't play the Clippers every night. (Tonight at Staples Center is the Suns' last gimme after three boosts from the Clippers already, and the Clips might even win this one considering how disjointed the Suns are right now.) 2. They are the worst rebounding team in the NBA. The worst. 3. Lead assistant coach Marc Iavaroni left to become head coach in Memphis. Iavaroni was the main pipeline into immature Amare Stoudemire, who crazily believes this should now be his team. 4. Coach Mike D'Antoni lacks the strong personality this team has grown to need: He took the easy way out and set the wrong tone for the season by giving Stoudemire a third slice of Steve Nash's and Shawn Marion's captaincy. 5. Nash's new "got milk?" print ad has him soaring through the air in a way that is all wrong. He looks like a ballboy using a trampoline so he can dunk. 6. The Suns are 1-6 against the other West teams currently slotted for the playoffs – and the one victory came when San Antonio was missing Tony Parker. 7. Owner Robert Sarver's bizarre approach – come in and cut payroll right away to pre-empt winning a championship that would establish personal credibility – has left them now sorely lacking depth. Athletic Joe Johnson is, in fact, just what this team needs, and even James Jones (leading the NBA in 3-point shooting for Portland) would be key. 8. Boris Diaw, acquired for Johnson, has seen his stats disappear and his waistline expand since getting his five-year, $45 million contract extension before last season. The Suns' best course of action now would be to put some French pastries on top of Diaw's contract and hope he cleans his plate, thus invalidating the horrible deal. 9. Nash's health, with chronic back problems, is an increasing concern. He turns 34 on Feb. 7. Such a marvel for three years in Phoenix, Nash could soon begin the sudden decline that Dallas' Mark Cuban expected much sooner. 10. Stoudemire already twice has called out teammates after losses in which he didn't get the ball enough – totally oblivious to his part in Phoenix giving up 122 and 118 points in those losses (Dec. 25 vs. Lakers, Jan. 5 vs. Hornets). Captain Stoudemire proceeded to skip practice the day after that loss to New Orleans. 11. Stoudemire didn't have to say he missed practice because his dog ate his playbook because D'Antoni doesn't even have a playbook: All he runs is the pick-and-roll, which continues to be a problem in the playoffs when your opponents can prepare properly for your pet plays. 12. With no hair on his head yet a huge dangling orange goatee, Brian Skinner looks frighteningly like an upside-down Carrot Top. 13. Both the father (Jerry Colangelo) and the son (Bryan) who built this have been pushed out by Sarver. New General Manager Steve Kerr is smart – smart enough to say: "In many ways, the league has adapted to us and our style." 14. Very much in Phoenix style, the Lakers have adapted with their effective pre-triangle-offense secondary fast break and are now quite good. Dallas is getting very good again. San Antonio is still really, really good. 15. Nash can't defend. The Suns are putting Marion on more and more opposing point guards these days. 16. That's tough duty for Marion, but he's even crazier than Stoudemire in thinking this should be his team. You might've missed that Marion requested a trade; the only way the world would've taken notice at the time is if Kobe Bryant had announced it for him. But Marion is making $16.4 million – $5 million more than Nash – even though Marion can't even create a shot. How about some appreciation for what you have instead of what you don't? 17. Little Leandro Barbosa is averaging 14 shots per game … the same as Stoudemire. See Amare's beef? 18. Grant Hill managed 34 consecutive starts before an appendectomy Wednesday knocked him out for 2-3 weeks, but don't be fooled. Many a time this season Hill's five-surgery ankle has been so temperamental that he thought about not playing. Beware. 19. Stoudemire is 24 and Kevin Garnett is 31. But by doing that deal and getting the defense and teamwork Garnett has brought to Boston, the Suns would've been a lock. 20. "You can't win at this level," Nash said, "if you don't have great chemistry and you don't pull for each other and if you're worried about your shots or worried about yourself or making excuses or pointing fingers at other players. That's for losers. We've been a winning ballclub here and if we want to take that next step that (chemistry) has to be a big part of our character."