When the Phoenix Suns put their mind to something, they get it done and then some.
Beginning in 2011, President Lon Babby's first draft since joining the front office a year earlier, the Phoenix Suns have acquired and/or kept no less than TWELVE first round draft picks from the 2010 to 2015 drafts. This is quite a change from the Suns' previous method of trading picks for cap space to sign veterans.
- 2010 - Eric Bledsoe (18th overall) acquired in July 2013 for Dudley
- 2011 - Markieff Morris (13), plus Marcus Morris (14) acquired in February 2013
- 2012 - Kendall Marshall (13), plus Miles Plumlee (26) acquired in July 2013 for Scola
- 2013 - Alex Len (5), plus Archie Goodwin (29) acquired in July 2012 for Nash
- 2014 - Suns pick, plus lottery-protected Wolves (for Lopez) and Pacers (for Scola) first round picks
- 2015 - Suns pick, plus Lakers top-5 protected pick acquired for Nash in July 2012
That's 10 young players/picks acquired in the last two years, capped off by the acquisition today of Plumlee and Indiana's lottery-protected 2014 pick in exchange for Luis Scola. Add in the Suns' own first round picks in 2014 and 2015 and you've got a full dozen first rounders from just six drafts.
How have the Suns done so much, so fast? By taking the opportunities when they arise, and getting the most out of them.
"We have known that Indiana has long had interest in Scola," Lon Babby told me today of the trade process. "And worked it until both sides were satisfied."
In other words, the Pacers started with Gerald Green to match salaries, and the Suns worked it until a 2012 pick (Plumlee) and 2014 pick were added.
Last month, Babby touted Ryan McDonough and Asst. GM Trevor Buckstein for spearheading the acquisition of the coveted Eric Bledsoe, who the rest of the league wanted and no one thought would require just the services of a supporting player like Jared Dudley.
The Phoenix Suns now have 16 players under guaranteed contracts for the 2013-14 season, not including second round pick Alex Oriakhi or any camp invites who impressed in summer league.
Of those 16 players, EIGHT of them are on rookie-scale contracts.
The roster is disjointed and needs some reconfiguring. That may not happen immediately, or even by the beginning of next season (except for a small deal or two at least, to shorten the roster). And that's okay.
Next year isn't about fielding a competitive team. It's about amassing so many assets that acquiring a coveted player doesn't empty all the coffers.