The Phoenix Suns have been stuck at, or near, the bottom of the NBA totem pole since the end of the Steve Nash era, which was an era known for exciting offense, a “seven-second shot clock” for the team when on offense, enforced by head coach Mike D’Antoni. Meanwhile, these Suns are struggling to find an identity. The good news is they have amassed some good young talent. For starters, there is young superstar shooting guard Devin Booker, who averaged 26.6 points per game a year ago. Then there is center Deandre Ayton, the first selection overall in the 2018 NBA draft, who averaged 16.3 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. 2014 first-round draft choice T.J. Warren averaged 18 points per game and 2015 first-round draft choice Kelly Oubre Jr. averaged 16.9 points per game. So what did the Suns do this offseason to add to their collection of young talent?
As far as the draft is concerned, the Suns sent the sixth selection overall, shooting guard Jarrett Culver, to the Timberwolves for the 11th selection overall, small forward Cameron Johnson, and Dario Saric. In free agency, the Suns added point guard Ricky Rubio, power forward Frank Kaminsky, and power forward Cheick Diallo. Not bad actually when you really look at it. Rubio is a slick ball handler who will run this offense and direct traffic. Kaminsky is a hard worker who can stretch the defense. The moves have actually helped the Suns. They are just one game back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference right now. These young Suns are getting better.
The Phoenix Suns were founded in 1968, during the rapid expansion era of professional basketball. Throughout their history, the Suns have had a tradition of regular season success. In fact, the Suns have the 4th highest winning percentage in NBA history. The Suns have won six division titles- 1981, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006, and 2007. However, as many a sports fan knows all too well, regular season success doesn't necessarily translate into postseason success.
The Suns have won the Western Conference just two times - 1976, and 1993, and have never won the NBA Championship. Their recent run of success during the middle of the 2000's was anchored by point guard Steve Nash, who's innovate style of offense won him two NBA MVP awards during this time.
The Phoenix Suns are coming off yet another rough season, having finished their 2016-2017 campaign with a record of 24-58, the worst record in the Western Conference. Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. The team has one of the league’s best young players, 20-year-old Devin Booker out of Kentucky. Booker is an exciting scorer who topped 70 points in a single game a year ago. Being only 20, he will get better and better. He is going to need help though. 2016 lottery pick power forward Dragan Bender needs to step up from his four points per game total a year ago, and reach his pull potential. This year’s lottery pick for the Suns, small forward Josh Jackson from Kansas, is going to need to become that second scorer. It will also help if another lottery pick from 2016, forward Marquese Chriss, acquired via trade from the Kings, reaches his full potential as well. The pieces are there, but they all need to develop. What is not going to help is shooting guard Eric Bledsoe saying he doesn’t want to play for the team anymore. The Suns have benched him and told teams he is available via trade.
Since the end of the Steve Nash era, the Suns have had trouble finding their way. Amar'e Stoudemire's knees played a role in this and he is long gone. Recently though, the Suns have begun to find their way. Eric Bledsoe has shined since being traded to the Suns, and they have been wheeling and dealing to build a good team around him. This is a team on the rise.
The Phoenix Suns did not have a good 2015-2016 season by any means. They finished the season with a record of 23-59, good for the second-worst record in the Western Conference, and the fourth-worst record overall. As they entered the offseason, their task, was simple, continue to rebuild their roster through the draft. They did make one small non-draft move of note, as they re-signed veteran small forward Jared Dudley to a three-year contract. Most of their off season work was done in the draft. The Suns held the 4th selection in the draft, and used it to select the top international prospect in the draft, forward Dragen Bender. They also had the 13th and 28th selections, but included them in a post draft package for the 8th selection from the Kings, forward Marquese Chriss. So far this season, the Suns currently sit with a record of 16-36, good for the worst record in the Western Conference, right about where they were supposed to be.
The Phoenix Suns had a miserable season a year ago as they continue to rebuild their roster. The Suns held the first selection overall in the NBA draft, which they used on center DeAndre Ayton from Arizona, which should help their ticket sales as well, take the Wildcat product on the draft. They are hoping can form an impressive tandem with budding superstar twenty-two year old shooting guard Devin Booker, who once scored 70 points in a game two years ago. The Suns then traded their second selection in round one, shooting guard Zhaire Smith, taken sixteenth overall, to the Philadelphia 76ers for tenth overall selection shooting guard Mikal Bridges. They are hoping Bridges can be the third wheel for Ayton and Booker. In free agency they signed shooting guard Trevor Ariza and extended Booker. Later on in the offseason, the Suns traded forward Marquese Chriss and guard Brandon Knight to the Rockets for small forward Ryan Anderson and guard De’Anthony Melton. The Suns wanted Anderson’s fourth quarter three-point shooting, which stands at near forty percent for his career.