Despite being eliminated from the NBA playoffs, the Suns should keep their heads held high because the future is bright in Phoenix. The Suns were projected to win under 20 games this NBA season, but the players well surpassed those projections.
With one game remaining in the regular season the Suns have a record of 47-34. While they did not make the playoffs, the fact that a team projected to win less than 20 games ended up competing for a spot in the postseason in the highly talented Western Conference is amazing.
The Suns will end the season in ninth place in the Western Conference. If they put up their same record of 47-34 in the Eastern Conference, they would replace the Brooklyn Nets as the fifth seed and be on their way to the playoffs. Although narrowly missing out on a postseason berth, the Suns organization has plenty of reasons to believe that the team’s future is bright.
What makes the Suns success this season so impressive is the fact that they did it without an all-star on the team; although many would argue that they should have had one. Head coach Jeff Hornacek and his young Suns roster have shown that they are capable of competing with any team in the league night in and night out.
Gerald Green has emerged as a leading candidate for this year’s Most Improved Player award, as he is averaging 15.8 points per game while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. Green averaged 7.0 points per game in just 18.0 minutes per game last year with the Pacers.
The most exciting aspect of the Suns this season has been their backcourt tandem. Despite only playing in 42 games this season, Eric Bledsoe averaged 18.0 points and 5.5 assists per game. At only 24 years old, Bledsoe still has room to develop and will only be looking to get better in the upcoming years. Then there is Goran Dragic, more commonly known as, “The Dragon.”
After this season, Dragic will join LeBron James, Larry Bird, and his coach Jeff Hornacek, as the only players to average 20 points and 5 assists for a year, while shooting over 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. When James and Bird put up these numbers, they were voted as the league’s MVP. Dragic did not even make the All-Star team this year.
While the Suns may not have a shot at the lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft, they are sitting in the opposite situation of the New York Knicks heading into the June draft. The Knicks have no first round picks this year, whereas the Suns have four. In a draft year with a talent pool as deep as the one this year, having four picks in the opening round will be a luxury for the Suns.
If the Suns win their final regular season game on Wednesday, they would end the season with 48 wins. That mark would tie them with 2007-08 Golden State Warriors for the best record by a team that did not make the playoffs.
So whether looking at the Phoenix Suns growth as a team this year, the historic numbers put up by Goran Dragic, or the team’s abundance of first round picks this year, there is no doubt that the future is bright in the desert.
Commentary By Eric Kummel