In the summer the most important thing for NBA fans is simple; Rankings.
Not singling out the mother-ship, because all major outlets do these, but ESPN.com had their yearly rankings going 500-1 previewing the NBA by having a panel of experts rank every player in the NBA and then put together a composite. Two things from the rankings stood out as obvious. One, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA and 26 teams saw a player named before the Suns had their first in the 60's with Eric Bledsoe.
There were 26 teams that had a player named before the Phoenix Suns heard their best players name called. Teams including Sacramento, Toronto, Boston, Dallas, and Charlotte. Charlotte.
Of those 26 teams there were 19 that had at least two players ranked ahead of Bledsoe and the Suns. This all means very little considering each individual franchise goes on their own path to get to the same ultimate goal. There are a few teams that are one or two players ahead of the Suns at this point in the game. The organization as a whole is realistic. They want to compete, progress as a team, and develop the type of team that will eventually be at the adult table (more on that here) making waves in the playoffs again.
For #SUNSRANK as we are dubbing this five part series the entire BSOTS staff ranked what we considered the most important 25 figures in the organization 1-25 to create a composite.
This is 100% original and in no way is copying (or mocking) other rankings. Seriously.
No. 25: James Nunnally (23.0)
Profile: 6-7 205 lbs. Small Forward -- Rookie UC Santa Barbara
Stats: (Pre-Season) In 10.3 MPG 3.0 PPG 1.3 APG 1.3 RPG 37.5% FG 33.3% 3PT (2-6)
Interesting Fact: Avid bowler.
Profile: Nunnally has earned the dubious distinction of finishing dead last in this diversion. Somewhat surprising considering he's scored a grand total of nine points through five preseason games. We could dress it up with a litotes and assert that isn't terrible in the least considering he at least made it into the conversation, but it's still last and it's still the Suns. At 23 (which, coincidentally, is where I ranked him - I cleverly used alphabetical order of the first names of the final five... Dionte, Ish, James, Malcolm and Viacheslav... due to their relatively similar "value") years of age Nunnally will likely still have opportunities to make a roster at some point if he doesn't do so here... After all there's always Philadelphia, right? - Jim Coughenour
Important Question: Where will he end up playing this season? I actually had this typed before the news he was waived. It was funnier then...
(Editors Note: Nunnally was waived by the team Thursday, October 24th)
No. 24: Ish Smith
Profile: 6-0 175 lbs. Point Guard -- Fourth Year Wake Forest
Stats: (Pre-Season) in 12.4 MPG 2.8 PPG 2.5 APG 1.8 RPG (0 total steals) 27.8% FG 20.0% 3PT (1-5)
Interesting Fact: Brother-in-Law is a former Deacon, played for the Demon Deacons, and graduated with a degree in "religion."
Analysis: The Suns ended up with Ish Smith as part of the Caron Butler trade that saved the Suns over $6 million in salary. Smith was never a need for a team with an already crowded back-court, but they gave him a shot in preseason just to see what they had. Unfortunately, it seems as though Ish is destined to be cut as he doesn't seem to bring anything unique to the team. The only way he may stay is if the Suns find themselves in need of a another point guard if they happen to trade Marshall, but even then, the odds aren't in his favor. - Sean Sullivan
Important Question: Is an undrafted Ish Smith a better option than 2012 lottery pick Kendall Marshall?
No. 23: Viacheslav Kravtsov (Slava) (22.0)
Profile: 6-11 254 lbs. Center -- Second Year Ukraine
Stats: (Pre-Season) In 8.4 MPG 3.4 PPG 1.8 RPG 0.4 BPG 100.0% FG (6-6)
Interesting Fact: As basically a nod to the tough spelling of his name, Slava was referred to by some as "Ctrl+V" or "Ktrl+V" because his name is a candidate to be copied-and-pasted by people consistently.
Analysis: "Slava," as his teammates and coaches call him has been a quiet, steady presence in the paint for the team. He is not a flashy player or a prospect with a high ceiling, but he is a serviceable big man that plays the center the way it used to be played. If the team had not drafted Alex Len or made a move for Miles Plumlee then Slava would be higher up on this list as a rotation player. During the pre-season Slava and Plumlee have basically been auditioning against each other for the third big man slot on the roster and other than shooting the ball (dunking the ball) efficiently, Plumlee has won this battle... - Kristofer Habbas
Important Question: What does Slava do well that his peers at the center position do not?
No. 22: Malcolm Lee
Profile: 6-5 200 lbs. Combo Guard -- Third Year UCLA
Stats: (Pre-Season) N/A
Interesting Fact: Lee's sister is an assistant women's basketball coach for the Oregon Ducks and was with the Army Knights before, Shandrika Lee-Gerch.
Analysis: Malcolm Lee has yet to suit up for the Phoenix Suns after the Warriors forced Phoenix to take him off their hands when the teams swapped picks so that the Suns could draft Archie Goodwin. He was drafted out of UCLA in the second round a couple years ago and has appeared in just 37 games and scored just 140 points in two seasons. Lee flashed some defensive potential in Minnesota as a combo-guard, but his career has been derailed by injuries and he still hasn't healthy. I wish him well as he continues his recovery and looks for a new team. - Jacob Padilla
Important Question: How many games will Lee play this year, over/under 10.5?
No. 21: Dionte Christmas
Profile: 6-5 205 lbs. Shooting Guard -- Rookie Temple
Stats: (Pre-Season) In 9.8 MPG 4.5 PPG 1.3 APG 1.3 RPG 50% FG 50% 3PT
Interesting Fact: Out-dueled James Harden in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, despite the loss, 29-9 in Christmas' last college game and Harden's second to last. Things have gone different for each since then, but Christmas has that to hang his hat on.
Analysis: Despite Christmas' respect for GM Ryan McDonough, the only way he makes this roster is if the Suns make a many-for-one trade right before cut-down day and he's left standing. It's too bad, since Christmas is PERFECT for promotional stuff in December. The most likely outcome is that Christmas is one of the Suns' late cuts and is eligible to be drafted by the Suns' D-League team to allow the Suns to keep Christmas' rights this season for a later call-up. Christmas can shoot the rock as an instant offense off the bench, but he just can't beat out the other guys at that position. It's a logjam that Christmas loses. -- Dave King
Important Question: Can a guy named Christmas play on Christmas?
Come back tomorrow for 20-16 in the #SUNSRANK series and follow along on Twitter!
Each ranking will also include one write-in ballot from the writers. We have five tremendous write-in's starting with Dave's:
Write-In Ballot: Dancing Dad's and Grannies
Profile: A group of 15-20 fathers and 15-20 grandmothers that are so passionate about the art of dance that they come to most Phoenix Suns home games to entertain. And entertain they shall with an array of moves that are like the love child of Master P (see dancing with the stars the two minute mark should do) and a high school dance breaking into an impromptu Electric Slide with contemporary music playing.
Stats: Twenty old men dancing and no hamstrings pulled. Success.
Interesting Fact: They are actually the best dance team in the NBA.
Analysis: I've got the Gorilla and Suns Dancers ranked in the top ten, and I rank the Dancing Dads/Grannies higher than half the Suns current roster. The Suns need to entertain their fans at the highest level possible this season, and these crazy dancers, along with the other squads, can only help the cause. In full disclosure, I don't overrate all the Suns entertainment. The blow-up dolls (Hairy and Harrison) are way down the list, and Ced Ceballos' replacement Tom Zenner didn't even make it. -- Dave King
Important Question: Can the Suns keep the fans interested during timeouts?