Phoenix Suns top priority this offseason: Create an IdentityThere is no question in my mind, after seeing the decisions made by the front office in all facets of the game over the past few seasons, that they have a definite goal of creating a new era of Suns basketball. Coaching changes, roster shifts, and FO overhaul have made this evident to even the most uninvolved fans. To the rest of the league, this is probably scoffed at as an act of pure desperation and admission of failure. We refused to look past the Nash- era and were left with nothing when he finally left. But for all of the changes that have been made to try to reclaim the former Suns' success, no clear formula or uniform mentality has emerged. Change for the sake of change seems to be the overarching mantra being silently acted upon within the organization.
We needed "fresh talent", so we attempted to develop, acquire, and claim skilled players. This resulted in an overly- veteran, non-cohesive mess of a team.
We needed "new ways of thinking", so we parted ways with a solid coach with a proven system, preferring an inexperienced assistant who failed to execute a legitimate game plan, develop a rotation, or improve the youngsters.
However, since the start of the 2013 offseason, a more systematic approach has been taken in regards to the breeding of a "Phoenix Suns culture". Appearing to be gone are the days of random acquisitions of twin brothers, poor drafting, and indecisive contract management. Ryan McDonough brings experience from an organization that has proven itself to be intelligent, systematic, and successful. Jeff Hornacek brings fan support, superior basketball knowledge, and similarly high level of success. Both bring youth, a welcome trait among a Suns franchise that had previously been known for outdated management methods.
The hiring of Pat Connelly from the Wizards, a scout revered throughout the NBA, further develops the idea that our drafting process is being bolstered by McDonough and his employees. Public desire for hard-nosed, high- character players such as Victor Oladipo and Rudy Gobert will give the team a gritty, defensive reputation.
Goran Dragic, one of the only players who has shown recent progress in the organization, provides an offensive building block as a player who is a clutch playmaker, as well as a beloved figure in the local media. Other than him, every player on this roster should be seen as a tradeable asset moving forward. Especially players like Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley, established veterans who would provide decent returns. The organization should be targetting young players, as they began doing with Eric Gordon last offseason. However, these players should fit into the way that the Phoenix Suns decide they want to play basketball, not force their individual skill sets or poor attitudes onto their undeserving teammates in ways players like Kendall Marshall and Michael Beasley have done in the past.
What set those mid- 2000s Nash- led Suns teams apart from their peers was the up- tempo, gunslinging offensive blitzkrieg that they made each game into. Decent offensive performers transcended to greatness, and solid defenders were heralded as elite because they were relied upon so much more than they would have been on other, lesser teams. We remember these teams and their Raja Bells and Quentin Richardsons, and we always will. These memories are engraved into our minds because of the definitive culture and system that they played within. History has even given them a name- "7 Seconds or Less". The 2005-06 Phoenix Suns don't stick out in our minds because they lost a forgettable Conference Finals to the Mavericks in 6 games, they are memorable because we remember what it felt like when Barbosa would pick off a pass and finish off the break all on his own and all in three seconds flat. We remember what it felt like to watch Boris Diaw's career resurrect itself. To see Raja lock down on Kobe or James Jones catch fire from deep.
We won't remember any of the Suns twenty-something wins this year, but if Hornacek, McDonough and us Phoenicians can create a unique culture that makes the players, staff, and fans happy, we will remember the 2013-14 season for instilling a sense of pride within us, for making us feel like a conscious part of a larger picture, for making us want to be a fan of the Phoenix Suns again.