Not even a decade ago the Phoenix Suns were the "it" team in the NBA. They were revolutionizing the game with a never before seen up-tempo offense that was designed to score in seven seconds or less. The Suns were on the verge of winning multiple championships and becoming a new dynasty.
It never happened though. The Suns never once made the NBA Finals.
They tried to build, cheaply, around Steve Nash in the years following with less and less success, then consistently missing in the playoffs at the end of Nash's prime.
Robert Sarver did the right thing and let Nash out of Phoenix. It was the honorable move to do and last year it felt empty watching the Suns without Nash. Then it got a bit emptier in Phoenix when new GM Ryan McDonough sent nine players on their way out of town.
Four years overdue, the Phoenix Suns were finally rebuilding.
Head Coach: There is a lot of new blood in Phoenix this season and that includes new head coach, Jeff Hornacek. The Suns drafted Hornacek out Iowa State with the 46th overall pick in the 1986 draft. He would play seven full seasons with the Suns before moving on to the 76ers and then the Jazz where he would retire, eventually become a special assistant coach and then a full time assistant coach the last two years in Utah under Tyrone Corbin.
This is Hornacek's first ever head coaching gig and he's bringing Jerry Sichting, Mike Longabardi, Kenny Gattison and the ageless Mark West to join him on the bench.
Last Season's Record: 25-57
Player Losses: Hamed Haddadi and Michael Beasley were both waived, Wesley Johnson, Jermaine O'Neal and Diante Garrett left as unrestricted free agents, while Jared Dudley, Luis Scola and Caron Butler were traded.
Player Additions: The Suns drafted Alex Len and Archie Goodwin in the first round, Alex Oriakhi was drafted in the second round, but signed overseas. Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler came over in the trade that sent Jared Dudley to the Clippers. Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee were acquired from the Pacers for Luis Scola and Viacheslav Kravtsov and Ish Smith came over from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Caron Butler.
Best Player: Have to bring that Eric Bledsoe guy back. Physically, he's a smaller LeBron James, but not nearly as talented. He has the chance to be in the same arena as Russell Westbrook, him playing the two spot this year will definitely give him a chance to thrive off the ball and make less mistakes running the point.
Worst Player: Giving this to a point guard from UCLA that has averaged 4 ppg and 1.5 apg for his career, Malcolm Lee!
Player due to breakthrough: Will be Alex Len. Total homer pick and he will finish second in the rookie of the year voting.
The Bench: Kendall Marshall is slated to back up Dragic at point, but will be replaced by Ish Smith sooner rather than later, the legendary Archie Goodwin is at the other backup guard spot, twins Marcus and Markieff Morris will man the reserve forward spots and Len as the backup center until Gortat gets traded.
Random Seattle Connection: I'm a Maryland grad, Alex Len went to Maryland, I lived in Seattle. There you go.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: Phoenix finds someone to take Gortat and Dragic from them for a first rounder each, Len finds his inner strength to match his excellent post moves and under rated midrange game, Kendall Marshall retires and the Suns have five picks in the first round of the most loaded draft ever.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: Alex Len's ankle problems turn out to be something that never goes away. Dragic gets hurt, ruins his trade value and Marshall starts 70+ games, Gortat loses the starting center job to Plumlee out of preseason and the Suns, even with the worst record, land the 12th pick in the draft.
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: McDonough is aggressive and he's going to find someone willing to take both Gortat and Dragic for first round picks and expiring deals. Len will eventually find his feet proving to be worthy of his high draft pick. Bledsoe is going to have a tough time adjusting to being "the man." He wasn't the man at Kentucky and he wasn't the man with the Clippers. The Suns are his team now (unless they draft Wiggins next year and then back to being the #2 guy) and one Morris twin will foul out of the game, switch jerseys with his brother and go back in at some point during a 45 point blow out. Only ESPN will care about that last part.
For more on the Suns, head over to Bright Side of the Sun for their full preview.
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Phoenix Suns:†Bright Side of the Sun
Sacramento Kings:†Sactown Royalty |†Baller Mind Frame
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