As you know from reading my material and comments for the past year on this site, I am not one to live in the past or pine for players gone bye-bye. But as I watch TV this weekend, I'm struck with a clear realization. For the first time since Steve Nash returned to the Valley in 2004, no one is wearing the Phoenix Suns uniform at the All-Star festivities in LA this weekend.
No rookie or sophomore all-stars in Suns colors on Friday night. Heck, the Suns haven't had anyone in this game since Amare gave an MVP performance as a sophomore in 2004. Since then, for the Suns? Nada.
No skills competition players this year (Nash always wiped the floor with the younger comp in prior years). No three-point shooters (former Sun James Jones won it this time). No dunkers (Amare participated once with Nash assisting in 2005).
And today, no participants in the All-Star game itself after having at least 2 every season since 2005 (Nash, Amare, Shaq and Marion). Amare will be starting, but this time in Knicks regalia. Joe Johnson is a reserve for the East. Steve Nash didn't make it and Shawn Marion is long gone (from the Suns as well as all-star level).
This tells me 2 things:
- The Suns owner has diluted the top-level talent from this team
- The Suns front office has been terrible at drafting players since 2002
Before you lament the traded draft picks, or argue that the Suns have not drafted high enough to have picked any players who could've represented this weekend, think again.
Since 2002, the Suns have drafted and kept: Zarko Cabarkapa, Maciej Lampe and Leandro Barbosa (2003), Jackson Vroman (2004), Dijon Thompson (2005), Alando Tucker and DJ Strawberry (2007), Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic (2008), Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin (2009), Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins (2010).
Only Barbosa, Lopez and Dragic earned rotation spots in the NBA and only Lopez has been a full-time starter.
The highest drafted players were Earl Clark at 14 in 2009, and Lopez at 15 in 2008. No one else was drafted higher than the late 20s.
Compare that with what I saw this weekend. Serge Ibaka (drafted 25th) and JaVale McGee (drafted 18th) in the dunk contest. Jrue Holiday (17th), Eric Bledsoe (18th), Taj Gibson (26th), Landry Fields and DeJuan Blair (both second round), Wesley Matthews and Gary Neal (undrafted) all in the Rookie/Sophomore game.
The Suns' front office has failed to unearth quick-result gems in any draft for 8 seasons now.
Finding true All-Stars has been difficult as well.
In the All-Star game itself today, only Manu Ginobili was a "lower" draft pick, meaning you really need to get a high draft pick to have an All-Star.
Yet it's just as likely you traded for one or more. Today's All-Stars acquired by their team via trade/free agency: Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Kevin Love and Kobe Bryant. (Rondo, Love and Bryant were traded as draft picks)
Again, the Suns team colors and jerseys are nowhere to be seen this weekend in LA.
Blame Sarver, of course, for letting some of them go. But also blame the front office (Colangelo, D'Antoni and Kerr) for failing to acquire any All-Star talent via trade or the draft, despite ample opportunity to do so in the past several years.