Of all the teams in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns right now, thanks to this trade, have the highest championship upside potential. I shall elaborate.
Look at our roster, right now.
It is currently comprised of, by depth chart:
PG S. Nash/G. Dragic
SG V. Carter/J. Childress
SF G. Hill/J. Dudley/M. Pietrus (or, something like that)
PF C. Frye/H. Warrick/G. Lawal
C R. Lopez/M. Gortat/G. Siler
This comprises the entire roster.
I would break down the league like this.
Championship level, future prospects included
Chicago - with Boozer, entirely different team. Add Noah by playoffs = legit contender by far.
Dallas - Dirk/Kidd/Butler augmented by strong bench plus young talent like Roddy Beaubois.
Orlando - Ryan Anderson is going to be a beast. This team needs a little time to gel, but seeing what they did to San Antonio leads me to believe that Gilbert is going to be a beast for this team.
Championship level, youth movement but core is aging
Championship level, solid for many years but no youth movement
Good, championship aspirations (may need one more piece or current pieces to grow a year or two)
OK City - Duran Duran (t), Westbrook, super solid bench - improvement of team is only a matter of time.
Phoenix - will explain/
Good with serious upside
Milwaukee - Jennings/Bogut will be deadly, added to strong young pieces such as CDR.
New York - definitely playoff team. Maturation of Anthony Randolph and Danilo will be huge...plus, possible addition of Melo.
Philadelphia - once they get Iggy and Brand out of there, clears way for Turner, Jrue, Marreese Speights, Hawes and Thad Young to do some serious damage.
Golden State - Curry, Ellis and Lee will be ridiculous. Just need Biedrins out or back at full potential.
Memphis - having some issues, but if either Mayo or Henry or shipped out to make room for the other, team sky rockets. Also, Conley needs to step up or step off.
Good, screwed in a couple years
Atlanta – going to have to take everything apart. Horford is emerging, Johnson and Bibby fading. Smith still potent but will eventually want out.
Denver – trading Melo...right now, pretty much
Utah – Deron could leave, Okur will fade out, Kirilenko is pretty done. Jefferson not the same. Millsap, Hayward still strong.
Houston - Yao phases out, team rebuilds. Brooks, Kevin Martin, Scola are already pretty ridiculous...just need to sort things out some more.
Portland – if Roy phases out, Aldridge leaves and they sink to serious upside w/ weak team. Oden has problems as well.
Weak with serious upside
Washington - Wall.
Clippers - Griff/EGordon.
Kings - 'Reke/Cousins.
Minnesota - Love/Beas/Flynn/Wes Johnson.
New Jersey - Devin/Brook/Favors (if they keep him)/Kris Humphries?
Weak, weak and weak
Prominent in 5 years category
So, why is Phoenix on the tier below championship caliber? Haven't most people written them off?
I would say the team they have now is perfect. Perfect for what, you might ask? Not for winning, but instead for getting the perfect next piece.
Nash and Hill are the foundation. Without Nash, the ship sinks. With Nash, the Suns run and gun and have some fun. Hill is the emotional leader of the team.
Lopez, Dragic and Dudley are the future. Lopez and Dragic will need a little more time, but it may be obvious to you from the past couple games where Dudley has started that he's ready, right now. These three will run the ship when Nash and Hill have retired.
Vince Carter is next. He is the next piece in the puzzle. I believe he wants to stay in Phoenix, it seems like he is stoked to be here and wants us to win. I think Orlando slowed him down a bit and in Phoenix, if we let him play like he wants to play, he will return to being Vinsanity (which is pretty damn nice). Unlike Hedo, Vince Carter has been ridiculous in every setting but one. Hedo was ridiculous, alternatively, in only one setting (i.e., Orlando, and not on our team). The thing with VC is that if he stays, he will be part of our championship attempt. If he goes, he will at least let us trade him so we can get something substantial in return. VC, was, in the end, the means to compile the next couple guys. The bench.
We used to have J-Rich, which was a younger version of VC with less risk. Now, we have the expendables. Pietrus, Frye, Gortat, Childress, Warrick. Once the players who have been recently acquired are allowed to be traded in combination with other players, they will be. Right now they're our glue. They all have sizable contracts, about $5M for a couple years, that will give one not-so-deep team a serious bench. Three of these play defense, and in any one deal two of those players with solid defense will be traded. I have a feeling the management has had a specific team in mind in compiling all of these wings. Notice that we took in Warrick, Childress and Frye over respective summers for considerable change, all of similar contracts (a decent amount of money for several years)? The reason, I believe, was for this moment. As someone mentioned, this is so that we can pick up the next player that wants out of their team and bring him to Phoenix. That team, in return, will have lots of depth.
A team like the Timberwolves is a prime example of this. They have a lot of young pieces that are getting about 20 MPG under Rambis' system because after Garnett that's what McHale took, and hasn't really been changed role-wise since. There are a lot of half fast players that could become something. Love looks like a superstar, but Beasley could phase out at any given time and no one else on that team looks like a lock to produce.
We have a vastly improved version of that situation. We have a solid amount more wins than the Timberwolves because we have Steve Nash and (previously) Jason Richardson, now Vince Carter. We do, however, have a lot of fast players that someone is going to want in exchange for giving away their superstar. Think of it: Steve Nash, Vince Carter and...Josh Smith? A revamped and high powered Elton Brand? I don't think either of those scenarios work very well, but we could definitely get the right someone for the team once he comes along. Until then, we have a great defensive team with a strong offense as always, guided by perennial hero Steve Nash. Oh, and we also have one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history along with the mentality of picking up if not (if Robin were to have 35 minutes a night and prolific scoring and rebounding) developing the next All-Star Phoenix Sun.
Optimism is the name of the game.