As the NBA season fast approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focusing on the Phoenix Suns, who last year had a record of 25-57 (a 30.5 winning percentage) and missed the playoffs.
Team: Phoenix Suns
Coach: Jeff Hornacek
General Manager: Ryan McDonough
2012-2013 Record: 25-57 (.305)
Place in Conference: 15th (Last)
Leading Scorer: Goran Dragic, 14.7 points per game
Key Additions: Coach Jeff Hornacek. Drafted Alex Len 5th overall and Alex Oriakhi 57th. Received Archie Godwin in a trade with the Golden State Warriors. Received Eric Bledsoe and Ishmael Smith in a three way trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks. Received Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. Signed Dionte Christmas and James Nunnally as free agents.
Key Losses: GM Lance Blanks, Interim Coach Lindsey Hunter. Traded Jared Dudley, and Luis Scola. Lost Jermaine O’Neal, Wesley Johnson, and Diante Garrett to free agency. Waived Michael Beasley and Hamed Haddadi.
After watching his team lose 70% of their games last season, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver decided that the time had come to simply go back to the drawing board and clean house. He brought in former Suns standout guard, Jeff Hornacek to coach the team, and handed the front office reigns to Ryan McDonough, the Assistant GM of the Boston Celtics. Sarver also decided that he had his fill of the troubled, but talented, Michael Beasley, paying him to just leave. Don’t worry though, the famous Suns’ Guerilla will definitely be returning.
Strengths: In the midst of the Suns’ revolving door, they did acquire some pretty nice building blocks. Seven-foot center Alex Len, drafted 5th overall, was hailed as the most complete big man in the draft. He will give the team a solid prospect to build around. The team will be guided by point guard Eric Bledsoe, as Phoenix put together the right package to pry him away from the Clippers, who had numerous offers for him.
6’11 stretch four Channing Frye will be returning after missing last year with an enlarged heart. His long range jumpers will help open up the middle. 6’11 center Marcin Gortat will join Len in the middle, giving the Suns a strong presence on the glass. The Suns also have a pair of young forwards in the Morris brothers, Marcus and Markieff, who are a pair of first rounders that the Suns hope will develop.
Off the court, Sarver brought in Washington Wizards Director of Player Personnel Pat Connelly and former Los Angeles Lakers Assistant General manager Ronnie Lester as new master talent evaluators for the team. Also hired was Emilio Kovačić, an international scouting consultant.
Weaknesses: The Suns will once again be one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, if not the entire NBA. There is much speculation that they will focus the 2013-14 season on developing their young talent, and going for the gusto when it comes to securing a high lottery pick. Their weaknesses extend to virtually every phase of their game.
Team owner Robert Sarver has been his own worst enemy in the past, selling numerous draft picks and being reluctant to spend in order to strengthen the team. During the Steve Nash era, he simply refused to increase payroll to bring in players who could have put the Suns over the top in the playoffs. Because of this, he has been widely characterized as one of the worst owners in team sports.
2013-2014 Season Prediction: This is going to be a long year for the Phoenix Suns and their fans. However, they are on the right track in building for the future, acquiring Bledsoe and drafting Len to go along with the Morris brothers. Putting the emphasis on player development, and making smart draft choices could help them return to relevancy sooner than expected.