The Phoenix Suns season has officially come to an end. And, like many writers, bloggers, what have you, I wanted to jot down some thoughts on the season that was, and the bright future that is, the Phoenix Suns.
Before the season began way back in October, there was talk of the tank. Teams putting themselves in the position to win the least amount of games in order to obtain a high draft pick, in the loaded 2014 draft. Based upon the moves and acquisitions, hiring a coach with no head coaching experience at any level, it seemed as though the Phoenix Suns were one of those teams. Hell, the consensus among the majority was that they would be the worst of the worst, projected across the board to win in the range of 17-21 games throughout the whole season. What actually transpired during the season was something immensely unexpected, leaving everyone bewildered, but sprinting to jump on the bandwagon.
First year head coach Jeff Hornacek took a group full of former cast-offs and propelled them from a seamlessly, insurmountable disastrous season to a team who fought for their playoff aspirations. We saw the Morris twins activate into a dynamic duo, Markieff becoming a contender for Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year awards. Miles Plumlee, who once rode the bench for the Indiana Pacers, transformed into a competent starting center, still raw offensively, but the room to grow is there. PJ Tucker, who was once out of the league altogether only two years ago, became one of the more deadly corner three shooters in the league and an absolute terror on the defensive end.
Ah. Then there is Gerald Green. He was one of the last players to jump straight from high school to the NBA. The journeyman, a player who was running out of opportunities, became one of the more exciting, eye-popping, sometimes perplexing, players in the league. Green finally solidified himself as an NBA player. And Channing Frye, one of if not the best story, of the NBA season. A year removed from heart surgery and missing the entire NBA season, Frye came back to an amazing season. He helped form one of the more lethal pick-and-roll forces with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.
Speaking of Dragic and Bledsoe, how bout’ those two? Before the season many wondered whether or not they would be able to play together, if Phoenix would attempt to trade Dragic. Together, these two exceeded everyone’s expectations by a mile and even garnered the nickname, the “Slash Brothers.” They made fast people look, not fast, and became a young, exciting, fast pace duo that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye and a torment for opposing teams.
Dragic, once the young pupil of Steve Nash, elevated his game to enormous heights this season. Even though he was “snubbed” from the All Star game, there is no denying that he should’ve been there and at the end of the season he more than likely will be named to one of the league’s All-NBA teams. Not to mention he has a shot of winning the league’s Most Improved Player of the Year award. Dragic was superb this season, becoming the only player in the NBA to average at least 20 PPG, 5 APG, while shooting at least 50% from the field and 40% from deep, per NBA.com/Stats. Not bad eh?
As for Bledsoe, even by missing around two months with a meniscus injury, his play this season will almost surely guarantee him a max contract this summer when he becomes a free agent. Pre injury, Bledsoe was phenomenal, being a pest on defense, bullying opposing guards. Offensively, he worked well out of the pick-and-roll and managed to improve his shooting as well from deep. When capturing the outlet pass, it was like he was shot out of cannon, sprinting down the floor, coast to coast like a blur. When he did finally return from his injury, not a beat was missed, and Bledsoe was playing like he never left.
What Jeff Hornacek did this year, with this bunch, is nothing short of amazing. He analyzed each player’s strengths and was able to utilize them to the best of his ability, getting the most he could out of them. When many thought the tandem of Dragic and Bledsoe wouldn’t work, Hornacek formed them into a dynamic, breathtaking pair. Over the course of the year, Horaneck, his wizardry, transformed Phoenix into a fan favorite and easily the most exciting team to watch in the league. For any fan, merely watching the Suns left you trying to catch your breath with their fast pace play. Hornacek will be a finalist for the Coach of the Year award, and whether or not he wins remains to be seen. Regardless, the job he’s done this season will be remembered for years to come.
Though there season may have come to a disappointing end by the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, they’re season was spectacular and the future is brighter than ever. They hold multiple draft picks in the upcoming, deep 2014 draft, numerous young assets and a plethora of cap space for free agents. Phoenix’s main job this summer will be to match any offer given to the restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe, to try and keep the “Slash Brothers” together. They have flexibility and they have numerous options to pursue free agents with their cap space, with the frontrunner for the NBA Executive of the Year award, Ryan McDonough, at the helm, the Suns will be in good hands. Phoenix may have had a disheartening end to their “surprise of the decade” season, but don’t fret, the Suns future is ever so bright.