‘It is the neglect of repair that makes rebuilding necessary.’
The Phoenix Suns finished 25-57 last year. Marcin Gortat struggled as the face of the franchise and Phoenix fans were still mourning the departure of Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire.
The Phoenix Suns are 38-28 right now, good for 3rd in the Pacific division and a game off the 8th seed in the incredibly tight Western conference.
What if I told you that 13 out of the 15 current Phoenix players have either done a stint in the D-league or abroad. Or that only two of their current players were drafted by them, or the astounding fact that this is the first full season with the Suns for 12 of their players and the second for 2 more. Channing Frye is the only ‘Long-term’ Suns player since 2009. Even their coach Jeff Hornacek is in his first year.
If you thought these Suns were destined to the bottom of the West, you’re not alone. I thought so, so did Bleacher Report, you’d be damn stupid not to. Right now the Suns were supposed to be glued to the March Madness that was about to unfold in this talent-stacked crop, but instead they’re in the thick of the Playoff race in the West. And they’ve gotten there fighting tooth and nail, even without the new face of the franchise, Eric Bledsoe, for a large part of the season. A lot of thanks goes to snubbed Allstar pointman Goran Dragic, but then again you can give credit to Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris, Jeff Hornacek and even somewhat to Bledsoe.
The Suns are a team of underdogs though. Guys that shouldn’t have made it. Draft ‘busts’. Unfulfilled potential. A team of washed-up youngsters. A team of failed experiments.
I’ve always been a supporter of Gerald Green since the Nets signed him to a ten day contract around two years ago. He stood out for the lowly (then) New Jersey team and produced highlight after highlight. His play warranted a lucrative contract that summer and he got it with the Indiana Pacers, but was soon relegated to the bench in favour of the flourishing Lance Stevenson. The media deemed him a ‘failure’, once again Gerald Green had proved the haters right and was getting the all too well-known tag as an over-payed volume scorer. Then came a fateful day in July when Green was handed one last lifeline in the form of Luis Scola(?). The Pacers traded him, Miles Plumlee and a first-round pick for Luis Scola. I’m pretty sure the Suns front office give each other high-fives daily about this cracker of a trade! Since the trade Gerald Green is averaging 15.6 points for the season, 20 in his last 10 and 21 in March. He has lit up a litany of teams including 30 on the Sixers, 36 on Denver, 33 on Atlanta and a career-high 41 on the Thunder. He’s hit three after three, made layups off cuts and dribbles oh and he’s also done this a few times…
Behind the leadership of Dragic, the energy of Bledsoe, the athleticism of Green, the rigid defense of PJ Tucker, the consistency of Plumlee, the bench-threat of Markieff Morris, the sturdiness of Marcus Morris, Channing Frye and Alex Len the Suns have made a quirky and unlikely bunch into a winning contingent. Before this season it’d been 6 years since a Sun had won a player of the week award(!) and they have two this year in Markieff and Dragic.
I think the most important thing the Suns have showed us is to have faith. They had faith in players no one else did and had faith that they could have a successful season. I mean they’ve showed us that rebuilding doesn’t always mean tanking. You take a look at their roster and compare it to the 76ers’ and there isn’t a massive difference. Then compare their records……
I think what’s most important with the Suns is their chemistry. Look at the time Nick Young got in a little bust up with Alex Len, none of the Lakers had his back (Ryan Kelly made an ‘attempt’), yet a number of Suns were quick to aid the towering Ukranian.
When you look at teams that are ‘tanking’ they are stacked with players on one- year contracts trying to up their stats to stay in the league or get a raise. Only four of the Suns’ players are in their contract years, the Lakers have 11 and were the first team to be mathematically ruled out of Playoff contention. You can see by the way the Suns play that they’re out there playing for each other, not for other teams’ scouts nor for another shoe deal. They’ve given it their all for those 66 games, the wins and the losses. I think it’s disgraceful when you see a franchise BLATANTLY tanking for picks like the Lakers and Bucks and I think the league and new commish Adam Silver should make an example of them, take their picks or something, because in the end of the day all those teams are doing are providing Ws to the HEAT and Spurs and the odd competitive game against mediocre opposition when they feel like it. A team can’t play to lose, I know myself as a player that you can’t play right if your aim is to lose, it just doesn’t happen, so I don’t see why it should in the NBA. There are sanctions if there’s match-fixing so why the hell aren’t there sanctions if there’s tanking?!
Happy saint Patrick’s day!