Pretty Much Screwed: The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns
Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Now let’s check out the Phoenix Suns, who were going to be bad before they traded away their best player last week.
Whew! We dodged a bullet there. We held off on writing about the Phoenix Suns until after they traded away Marcin Gortat (and Shannon Brown, and Kendall Marshall) to the Wizards for an indefinitely-injured Emeka Okafor and a first-round pick. This changes everything!
Yeah, no, it doesn’t. The Suns were going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this year before the trade — now the question is, will they be the absolute worst team in the NBA this year? The Sixers and Suns are gunning for that number one (draft) spot, and Phoenix gave up their best offensive weapon in an attempt to level the playing field.
But this is a season preview, and the Suns deserve words written about them, just like every other NBA team. It’s not enough for me to say “The Suns suck.” Why do the Suns suck?
Their two best players play the exact same position and both are surrounded by question marks.
The Suns traded for point guard Eric Bledsoe earlier in the offseason, and most people agree that it was a good move — Bledsoe had to be moved from the Clippers, and in his time as Chris Paul’s backup he showcased his hustle, defensive intensity and ball-handling skills. But, as noted, he was a backup. There’s no way to know if he’ll be able to sustain the style that made him such a buzz-worthy name as a starter in Phoenix. He only averaged 20 minutes a game in L.A. That’s nothing.
And is he better than the incumbent starting point guard, Goran Dragic? Dragic is good, but his numbers are likely skewed because he was on the Suns last year. And let’s say Dragic is the next Suns player to be traded — does that just increase the load (nay: the burden) on Bledsoe’s shoulders?
Their next “best” players are a center who shoots threes and the interchangeable Morris brothers.
Channing Frye is good, if you prefer your centers to be shooting guards. And the Morris brothers are bangers, nothing more. They rebound, sometimes. They get suspended for throwing elbows. They are twins; that’s cute.
Their first round draft pick is already drawing comparisons to Darko Milicic.
Taking on “project” big guys is always a risk. If the risk pays off, you have a cornerstone piece of the franchise. If it doesn’t, you’ve wasted a high pick and are stuck in rebuilding mode. Alex Len surprised a lot of people when he was drafted at number five this year, and he needs a lot of work before he can bang with Dwight Howard and company.
But none of this matters — the Suns are supposed to suck.
When the historians look back at the 2013 season, they’ll likely omit the Suns from the record books altogether. The Suns aren’t playing basketball this year — not the way it’s supposed to be played, anyway. They’ve been trading their best players (who were just bit pieces anyway) to load up for the 2014 draft — and at this point they have four first-round picks next year. This is supposed to be the best NBA draft in a decade, and the Suns will either package some picks together to move up or will select a fresh crop of young talent to mold.
So the Suns will be bad in 2013-14. They could get worse as the season goes on, if they choose to trade their remaining assets. But the Suns in 2017-18? That team will be sick. Hopefully. Maybe. Fingers crossed, Phoenix fans (and Jeff Hornacek).
Actual season prediction: 19-63, last in the West.
Photo via Getty