May 15, 2018, that is the day the Phoenix Suns completed the first step of it all being worth it.
On that day, just a month ago, years of suffering in the dessert finally culminated in the number one overall draft selection, earned in the draft lottery. A pick the Suns have been coveting ‘officially’ since 2016 when the tanking really began but more realistically since 2010, the last time the Suns made the playoffs.
2010 seems like a really long time ago in Phoenix and for good reason, it has been a long time since the Suns were of any significant relevance to the mainstream NBA community. For a few years the Suns were stuck in the dreaded almost good enough for the playoffs but not quite bad enough for good lottery odds, NBA version of purgatory. So, they did what any team in the NBA seems to be doing since Sam Hinkie made it ‘cool’ and began the process of tanking.
Since 2015, the Suns have drafted 9 players, only one has truly hit. The rest range from out of the NBA to possible future role players to flat out question marks. For the future role players, Tyler Ulis and Josh Jackson, they are both positives but, neither has shown enough yet to be seen as definite starters on a good team. For the question marks, the likes of Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, we will look at them with a glass have full approach and say they still have lots of potential.
The one true hit is Devin Booker, ironically (or possibly cruelly if you are a Suns fan), the 13th overall pick, by no means a result of tanking. Either way, Booker seems like a future star for the Suns, the one bright light in an otherwise lost last three seasons.
The thing is though, Booker is not down for a fourth lost season. In fact, he said following the 2017-18 season he was “done with missing the playoffs” which for a player who’s contract is running out fairly soon has to at the very least get the attention of Suns management.
Luckily for Suns management and fans, June 21, 2018, provides an opportunity to change it all back to the way it used to be in Phoenix.
See, the Phoenix Suns have not always been a failure of a franchise. In fact, they were one of the leagues proudest for many seasons. Stars like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley and others helped the franchise to miss the playoffs just six times from 1976 to 2008 and appear in two NBA finals.
But now, ten years since that stretch of great basketball really ended, the Suns have a chance to resurrect their franchise.
With four picks (tied for the most with Atlanta) in the draft including two firsts, this is the type of opportunity that can reshape a franchise. Think of the the 2012 Golden State Warriors who drafted three integral pieces including Draymond Green that would help truly kick start their dynasty.
Of course the number one overall pick is incredibly important but, for the Suns to finally get back to where they want to get to, you have to hit on a second round pick like a Draymond Green or even a mid first round pick like a Kawhi Leonard. It is in those ‘diamonds in the rough’ that you can build something great.
In terms of who they should select at number one overall, I am a huge proponent of either Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic. For me it does not necessarily matter who they take as long as that player hits. No more question marks or role players, the Phoenix Suns need another star. Not only do they have the position to find that star, they have a few extra shots at it later on to find others.
Tanking puts you in position but, it will be all for not if they do not execute. That is why June 21st, 2018, will change the Phoenix Suns as franchise no matter how it all plays out.
The 2018 Draft is now open,
the Phoenix Suns are on the clock……