FanPost

REBUILDING: It's not so bad!


I'm noticing a pattern. Some say we should get Melo next year, some say we should add a PF, and some flat out on our team. I think there's a point to be made.

If the Lakers are #1 in the conference, then the next couple teams with any chance at playoff contention next year are, based on what you would suspect:

us

the Spurs

the Mavs

the Blazers

the Thunder

the Jazz

the Nuggets

the Rockets (conditional: need Yao)

in no particular order.

Teams like the Kings, the Clippers, the Warriors and the Grizzlies might be on the upswing, but probably aren't going to make the playoffs.

Now, in five years, would you guess we'd still be perennial playoff contenders? Steve Nash is not going to be in the league in five years. Jason Richardson will not want to stay for Nash's departure. Hedo Turkoglu is under contract, but if those two leave then he'll likely demand another trade as well (knowing his behavior, we may end up trading him). On the roster, the players you can guess would be left include:

R. Lopez

G. Dragic

J. Dudley

E. Clark (if we don't waive him?)

G. Lawal (if we don't waive him?)

maybe, maybe H. Warrick

J. Childress

Other than that, once Nash, Richardson and Turkoglu are gone, what will we have? More importantly, will established players want to come to our team? Probably not.

What's one way to get talented players to come to our team without them having a choice or minding necessarily all that much?

THE DRAFT!

It's time to rebuild, folks. More after the jump.

LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN

1998-99 Phoenix Suns. Jason Kidd, a dried up Danny Manning, Tom Gugliotta, Randy Livingston, Clifford Robinson...well, this doesn't seem like such a bad team...on paper. In real life, we lost in the first round of the playoffs.

1999-00 Phoenix Suns. Oh look, KJ and JK on the same team! Backcourt 2000! Shawn Marion! Surely this was going to be a great team. And we thought it was going to be, but we lost in the conference semifinals.

2000-01 Phoenix Suns. Shawn Marion's killin' it! Jason Kidd's all over the place. Penny plays four games. We lose in the first round.

For the next two years we don't make the playoffs. What we do instead is draft a fellow named Amar'e Stoudemire. We had our greatest team of the past decade in Nash, Amar'e and Marion in 04-05 and teamed up Amar'e and Nash up until this past offseason. That still wasn't enough to win a championship.

Some would argue that that team, this past year's team, the '93 team and the '76 team that went to either the NBA or Western Conference Finals were some of the best we've ever had as Suns fans. I would agree. It's dangerous to say that those were championship-worthy teams. When in 1976 we had Alvan Adams, Gar Heard and Paul Westphal, the Celtics had Havlicek and Cowens. When in 1993 we had Charles Barkley, KJ and a host of great role players, the Bulls...well, they were the Bulls of the 90's. Doesn't get much better than that. When in both 2004-05 we had Nash and Amar'e, the Spurs and Lakers had some of the best players in the league. (Plus, for that matter, they played defense.)

In our franchise's history we have won games. We are one of the winningest franchises in league history. We haven't won a championship. Why, you ask? I think I have the reason.

Before that, let's sort out the team, the opponent and the circumstances.

Team Our Talent Opposing talent

75-76 Adams, Westphal, Heard Cowens/Havlicek

92-93 Barkley, KJ, Majerle, Ainge, Chambers, Ceballos, etc. Jordan/Pippen/Horace Grant

04-05 Nash, Amar'e, JJ Duncan/Ginobili/Parker

09-10 Nash, Amar'e, J-Rich Kobe/Gasol/Bynum/Odom

What's the problem here? They have some of the league's best players in each circumstance. We didn't. Is this to say Steve Nash, Charles Barkley and KJ, to name a few, weren't some of the league's best players? No. We all know their talents. Trouble is, you can't beat those Bulls no matter what you do, the Spurs' defense over the past decade was indestructible, the Lakers have one of the finest players of all time in Kobe as well as one of the finest supporting casts the Lakers have ever had, and the Celtics had two 60's holdovers with mind-boggling stats that Alvan Adams wasn't going to match.

There's another problem. All of those players on the other teams are great all-time defensive players. Ours, in general, are not.

Now, you can pout over that, or you can say, "well, where did they get the league's finest players?" Simple!

THE DRAFT!

The Draft is where you get the league's finest players. The Draft is also where you get the league's finest players without all of the detriments of having the league's finest players.

Some of the detriments of having the league's finest players:

a) They're expensive. See: LBJ.

b) If they came from other teams, their egos are generally boosted and they think they own the new team after just walking in the door, even when, sometimes, they do. See: LBJ.

c) Chemistry can be a problem if you put the league's finest players together that don't mesh well together. The new Heat could be an example of that, but seeing how Beijing went, probably not.

There aren't many detriments, but the thing about the league's finest players is that, inherently, they're mighty fine players.

With the draft, you get great players (if you draft well) on rookie contracts. With the draft, they are assigned to your team and if they don't like your team, you trade them. If they do like your team, they remember that your team drafted them and that they owe you for their existence in the league. Your team is great players' benefactors. Their egos are not very big and they take every game for granted (which, I believe, all professional athletes should do anyway). And, with the draft, chemistry is the least of your problems because the first team is the team that the rookie knows best.

The Draft eliminates all the problems of having the league's finest players without eliminating any of the benefits. See: Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Brook Lopez, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, LeBron James (for the first few years, anyway), Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade...or, put another way, pretty much all of the great players from the past ten drafts. Can you think of that many other great draftees that didn't like their first team or didn't play well with others? Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain...this concept has worked throughout history.

This is how you win championships. Get your own league-finest talent and cultivate your players around it.

HOW THIS APPLIES TO US

I have very high hopes for our current young core (particularly, Robin, Jared and Goran). Earl is shaky, Hakim's too old to be considered part of a young core. The Suns need more young players (young = 23 or younger). More importantly, they need talented young players.

The 2011 draft is a good place to start. Harvest young draft picks, trade Jason Richardson for a couple or a lottery pick (he was worth that to Charlotte a couple years back), let Steve Nash cultivate the talent and eventually hand the reins over to Goran. If Goran can't do it, draft somebody else in a couple years. Robin Lopez is probably sure-fire going to be really friggin' good next year and in the years to come, and he'll probably stay here. Jared will probably stay a role player, Gani will probably get cut or remain a role player, Hakim will probably leave or get traded.

Earl Clark is a mystery. You'd think that he would have a solid year considering his lottery status. Perhaps not. Perhaps it'll take him this year. I'd say that if you haven't seen any sort of promise from Earl Clark this year or next, he's not going to develop. He has a little bit of wiggle room seeing as he's only 22. After that it should seem pretty safe to assume he's not worth our time. He reminds me a bit of our own Anthony Randolph, in a way. I think that would be solid promise enough. We'll see what happens with him.

In the end, our team is a solid one. How much longer will you expect a regurgitation of the same role players to last, though? We can only have the some core so many years. Nash isn't going to play until he's 50. We'll have to move on. We may have a phobia about rebuilding, but it has to be done.

It has to be done.