Do you remember where you were 21 years ago today?
If you're like me, there's no way. Not for somebody who is never without a refrigerator full of Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA. The internet helps me remember though. If you're a Suns fan you likely woke up on June 6th, 1993 with a feeling that proved elusive for the prior 17 seasons. The 1993 NBA playoffs, once referred to as the best postseason in league history by writer Bill Simmons, had been whittled to just two squads. Your Phoenix Suns were headed to the NBA Finals.
I forget what happened after that, I really don't think anybody remembers, but we were left with one indelible feeling. We liked that feeling of June 6th, 1993, and we'd like to feel it again. In a non-creepy way of course.
The present incarnation of the Suns bear some similarities to that 1993 squad. Certainly the possibility of adding Kevin Love to the roster will be discussed ad nauseam this off season. He'd be your present day Charles Barkley, albeit minus the flashes of sexism, homophobia, and disdain for the obese women of San Antonio. Either way, while it wouldn't be a surprise for the Suns to make some noise with their bevy of draft picks, believe it or not we've still got a roster full of players that came to within a game of making the playoffs. Are they all in the appropriate roles?
Suns fans nearly universally seem to be smitten by the backcourt combination of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Phoenix has consistently bucked conventional league wisdom, experimenting with free agent signings and a variety of offensive and defensive strategies in the 20 plus years I've been a fan. It doesn't always mean wins but it's always fascinating. To break up the tandem of Dragic and Bledsoe for a splashy free agent signing that may or may not exist anyway would be asinine. Here's an excellent writeup of the damage those boys can do. The Suns are in an excellent place with The Slash Brothers. I'd like to look at this from another angle. Enter: The Flash Brothers.
Step One: Goran Dragic is Your Point Guard
Both Dragic and Bledsoe posses capabilities that are the envy of the majority of the league. With Bledsoe sidelined for the bulk of the season The Dragon stepped in admirably, shouldering the increased scoring load en route to All-NBA honors. Looking at strictly the numbers from March 12th on, when Bledsoe rejoined the team, Dragic put up 19.2 points and 4.8 assists per contest, with Bledsoe going for 18.1 and 5.1. Surely one can attribute any shortcomings on Bledsoe's part to growing pains when returning from injury, but he didn't appear to miss a step. He poured in two 30 point and one 29 point performance in the final two weeks of the season.
That said, Google "Eric Bledsoe erratic" and your computer will likely explode. That's not to say Bledsoe is an especially sloppy ball handler, (I'm also not not saying that) it's merely the word I most frequently hear attached to his name. In any event in those games since Bledsoe's return, he averaged 3.42 turnovers versus 2.41 for Dragic. It is a fantastic asset to have the scoring ability of a Goran Dragic, and he can assume that role when necessary. He can be our Kevin Johnson. Focus on game management, with the knowledge that he can pop off for 30 plus at times. Dragic did that 9 times last year, including a 40 point effort, Johnson topped thirty 65 times in his career and 40 on five different occasions. Defined roles don't have to be viewed as a negative, merely playing to each individual's strengths.
Step Two: Eric Bledsoe is Your 2.
Go ahead and include in your Google search "Eric Bledsoe athleticism." If your computer doesn't explode, Google "Eric Bledsoe explosive" and it surely will. I say let this guy score, score, and score some more. The feats of Bledsoe athletically remind me of a former Sun, Cedric Ceballos (or Richard Dumas?) Maybe it's not the Ceballos we saw in Phoenix, but the one we saw in Los Angeles a couple of years later. The All Star selection who averaged just shy of 22 points a game and added a 50 point effort to his resume. Without the responsibilities of running the offense, Bledsoe can be a more athletic Ceballos, and like the versatility of Dragic, is able to step in at point guard if needed. That's one half of our high flying duo. The other half?
Step Three: Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green: The Flash Brothers
Consider these numbers:
27 years old, 16.9ppg, .464/.381/.778
28 years old, 15.8ppg, .445/.400/.848
The latter is Gerald Green. The former is Dan Majerle. Prior to last season Green had never attempted more than 258 three pointers in a season. Last year he chucked up 510 of them, with accuracy that even Thunder Dan never managed. After bouncing around the league and abroad for the length of his career thus far, Green as found his niche in Phoenix. Let's divvy up those looks Dragic will be conceding amongst Bledsoe and Green. Both have shown they can be dangerous outside shooters, Bledsoe shot a hair under 40 percent behind the arc his last season as a Clipper, and neither one has a shortage of highlights above the rim. These two have the ability to be a feared scoring duo in the Western Conference. Green assumed a starting role in the absence of Bledsoe. I don't think we can have these two on the court at the same time enough. Green can go for 20, even 30, off the bench. He and Bledsoe at least provide a headache for defenses.
Regardless of the lineup the Suns of next season trot out there next season this is definitely a good problem to have, and one thing is for certain.
I'd rather have this problem than Luis Scola.