The Composition of the Sun(s)

Remember when our Suns were hot?

All Phoenix's front office needs to do is look at the star at the center of our solar system, which our team is named after, to realize the correct strategy for how to rebuild our franchise. It's really not that complicated.

As we are all aware, the Sun generates energy through a process called the proton-proton chain reaction, where hydrogen is converted to helium by way of nuclear fusion. Larger stars use a process called the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) cycle, but the goal of this process is also to convert hydrogen to helium. As a living being, I tend to think that nuclear fusion kicks ass. After all, we owe our lives to it. The nearly interminable nature of these reactions make the Sun a nifty long term (~10 billion years), live-providing energy source (if we could just figure out a way to make it work for us better than those crappy solar panels).

I could go into a tedious harangue on the intricacies of this subject matter, but I'm pretty sure most of you have already stopped reading, so I won't. This is supposed to be about basketball. I'll try to finish my analogy before I lose the rest of you. The Sun consists primarily of hydrogen (~73.5%), followed by helium (~25%) and several other lesser elements in very small percentages (~1.5%, though still massive amounts in the grand scheme of things considering the sun accounts for nearly 99.9% of the total mass in our Solar System). The Sun needs a huge contribution from one source, a lesser (though still vital) contribution from another source and small contributions from a number of other sources.

See where I'm going with this? The Sun is the Suns. The Suns are at the center of the collective fanbase's Solar System. Our Suns have no hydrogen. What happens to stars without hydrogen? They die.

Our Suns need a star, which is ironic since the Sun is a star; a star that needs a star. Maybe we could set up an interstellar dating service? So where are we going to find our hydrogen, do we really have any helium or are the Suns completely made up of lesser elements?

Analogy complete. Or not. You didn't think I'd abandon my theme yet, did you?

Star searching. How do franchise's mine stars? They draft them.

Lebron James - signed extension with team that drafted him, left in free agency after seven years

Kevin Durant - signed extension with team that drafted him, still with first team

Dwight Howard - signed extension with team that drafted him, was traded after eight years

Kobe Bryant - playing on fourth contract with Lakers who acquired him via trade after draft, has only played games for one team

Chris Paul - signed extension with team that drafted him, was traded after six years

Kevin Love - playing on extension with Timberwolves who acquired him on draft day trade, has only played games for one team

Blake Griffin - signed extension with team that drafted him, still with first team

Andrew Bynum - signed extension with team that drafted him, was traded after seven years

Tony Parker - signed two extensions with team that drafted him, still with first team

Russell Westbrook - signed extension with team that drafted him, still with first team

Carmelo Anthony - signed extension with team that drafted him, was traded after 7+ years

Dirk Nowitzki - playing on fourth contract with Mavericks who acquired him on draft day trade, has only played games for one team

Tyson Chandler - signed extension with team that drafted him, was traded after five years

Dwyane Wade - signed two extensions with team that drafted him, still with first team

Rajon Rondo - playing on extension with Celtics who acquired him on draft day trade, has only played games for one team

Out of the 15 players who were on All-NBA teams last season, nine of them are still with their first team, five were traded and one (Lebron) left via free agency. Of the six not playing for their original team, every single one signed an extension with that team. The average tenure on their first team of the six players that left is nearly seven years. A team that drafts a star basically gets them for a minimum of seven years if not much longer.

Of the six players not on their first team, three are in LA, two are in New York and one is in Miami. Not looking too good for Phoenix to go that route...

The main reasons that star players leave: a franchise's inability to surround them with enough talent to win, market size and teaming up with other star players. Not looking too good for Phoenix again.

This seems like overwhelming evidence that the Suns need to draft their hydrogen.

But what about helium you say?

Helium is a little bit easier to come by. Helium can generally be gathered by way of free agency, trades or the draft. Do the Suns really have a #2, though? The potential candidates are Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat.

Goran Dragic - Dragic is currently 52nd in the league (13th among point guards) in scoring (14.5) and 12th in the league in assists (6.5). Dragic has basically been a middle of the pack point guard this season. This is Goran's fifth season and he is 26 years old. Dragic's PER36 numbers this year are almost identical to his numbers last season. During his 28 games as a starter last season he averaged 18 points and 8 assists, but that brief stint is the only time he has played to those standards. Helium value: possible #2 at some point, but not proven enough and much more of a #3 right now.

Marcin Gortat - Gortat is currently 91st in the league (15th among centers) in scoring (11.3) and 18th in rebounding (8.6). Gortat is mired in one of his worst seasons. He is below his career averages in scoring and rebounding PER36. His declining rebounding numbers are somewhat discomfiting. Gortat turns 29 next month, so while a return to his previous level is entirely possible it is unlikely that he will improve on those numbers. Gortat appears to be an average starting center at his worst and a top 10 center at his best. Considering the paucity of quality centers in the league, the 10th best center might not even be one of the top 60 players in the league. No way I see Gortat as more than a three.

There is nobody else on this roster that would be in the conversation as the third best player on a top 10 team. The closest would be the 32 year old Scola, who currently can't be traded, and the best suited as an excellent sixth man Dudley.

No hydrogen or helium on the Suns, just lesser elements.

Right now our star kinda sucks. The current strategy of building our Suns hasn't been working well. The Suns need a solid core (players) and nuclear fusion (wins) to generate that 1,000,000 K temperature on its corona (fan fervor) and the sunlight that fuels all of our lives (NBA championships). It's time to ditch the dead star concept and employ a renascent approach. Possibly implement a different strategy altogether. One that works.

The simple game plan, albeit tremendously more difficult to execute, is draft a #1, find a legitimate #2 through a variety of avenues and fill in the team with role players (as we seem to be adept at currently). We've already accomplished the easiest part. All that's left are the more difficult tasks. Speaking of tasks, are the Suns up to this one? Is that a ray of sunshine on the horizon? Or not.

We will find out in the near future. Due to the Suns current (mis)fortunes and the cautious/prudent fiscal policy the team has adopted, the Suns might have a top five lottery pick (#1) and cap space to land a gem in free agency (#2). The team is still in a position to capitalize on a trade (#2) or draft a solid player with a lower first round pick (#2-3). So maybe the Sun(s) hasn't set yet.

That is all.

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