Who are the five most important names and faces for the Phoenix Suns for the 2014-2015 season? Well, at least according to the staff here...There are players, coaches, front office members, entertainment, and so much more that all come together to form a successful team. Most of the formula has been revealed, now here are the key ingredients.
Everything is connected.
We knocked out 25-6 on here for #SUNSRANK for the 2014-2015 Phoenix Suns season with some big names and other faces that will have a say in how the season goes overall. Go back and check out the lists from this week if you missed them, but lets continue to march forward.
In these rankings some great names were left out of the Top 25 like Casey Prather, Jamil Wilson, Joe Jackson, Earl Barron, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alec Brown, the Cheerleaders, and the Hip-Hop Squad. They will not be forgotten.
#SUNSRANK is a compilation of 14 writers here on Bright Side that ranked the most important names and faces of the franchise for this one year. This is not a "future rankings" or some Fox News one-sided account of things. Everyone had their own opinion and the rankings are as the staff deemed fit. There were some wild rankings, but we are not going to leak like a sieve a la the NSA in here. We have some integrity.
This is it. Go back and look at the rest of the rankings to see where the rest of the Suns faces ranked here.
25-21 << 20-16 << 15-11 << 10-6 << 5-1
No. 5: Isaiah Thomas (7.5)
Profile: 5'9" 185 lbs. Point Guard -- Fourth Year Washington
Stats (Last Season): In 34.7 MPG 20.3 PPG 6.3 APG 45.3% FG 34.9% 3PT
Interesting Fact: His name was derived from a bet between his father (Lakers fan) bet on the 1989 NBA Finals, where the Lakers were swept, and Thomas was named Isaiah after the Pistons star, but tweaked for a biblical connection.
Analysis: The little guy is going to be huge in Phoenix next year. From an on-court perspective, he'll grant Coach Hornacek so much more freedom than he had last year. Hornacek can have his two point guard system flowing all game, and not have to worry about any drop in productivity. Thomas will be a feisty little spark plug off the bench; with him, Gerald Green, Marcus Morris, and Tolliver coming off the bench together, they should be a devastating second unit that will surely be contention for highest scoring bench in the league. Thomas is a gritty player too. It never hurts to have guys that play with a fire, and he could very well be one of the vocal leaders on this team.
As far as off of the court, I think Thomas is going to hugely resonate with the fans. Who doesn't love a 5'9 underdog? He's already connected to the community with his backpack giveaway and school supplies drive in August. Thomas seems really happy to be here, and I think the fans will just continue to embrace him once they see him on the floor. He'll be fan favorite for years to come. -- Garrett Benson
Important Question: Will lightning in a bottle be satisfied as a 6th Man and a limited role?
No. 4: Markieff Morris (6.214)
Profile: 6'10" 245 lbs. Power Forward -- Fourth Year Kansas
Stats (Last Season): In 26.6 MPG 13.8 PPG 6.0 RPG 48.6% FG 31.5% 3PT
Interesting Fact: Markieff got the master bedroom in their Phoenix home after beating Marcus in a game of Madden 2013... True story.
Analysis: As a reserve last year Markieff made the leap to being a consistent, relied upon option for the Suns and a legitimate 6th man of the Year candidate. Playing behind Channing Frye and with a loose second unit highlighted his strengths and masked his weaknesses. That is one thing that Coach Hornacek does very well with his young players, mask weaknesses, and emphasize strengths. The changes to his game were obvious. He shot nearly a full three-point shot less per game from year one to year three, almost tripled his free-throw attempts, and shot the ball immensely more efficiently from the field because of that on more shots overall. There was visible progression to his game. This year Markieff looks to be in even better shape than last year and genuinely happy. Growing as a leader, as a rebounder, and as true "power forward" are the next steps in the evolution of his game. All the tools are there for Markieff to be a viable third option on a good team hunting for a playoff spot, but now there is not the safety net of Frye playing 25-30 minutes a night in front of him.
This season he will have more responsibility in the pick-and-roll game. More times where he has to make the decision on plays that will impact the outcome of a game. How Markieff plays in this role could be the barometer on the teams overall success. -- Kris Habbas
Important Question: Can Markieff be the third best player on a playoff team?
No. 3: Eric Bledsoe (3.857)
Profile: 6'1" 190 lbs. Point Guard -- Fifth Year Kentucky
Stats (Last Season 43 Games): In 32.9 MPG 17.7 PPG 5.5 APG 4.7 RPG 47.7% FG 35.7% 3PT
Interesting Fact: He is a man of few words.
Analysis: How apropos is it that I get to blurb Eric in this exercise? Somehow my disdain for all things Bledsoe caused me to rank him as high (tied) as anyone else on the staff. I guess not everyone else can see his value.
I still think Eric is a bit of an enigma. I wasn't really able to ascertain exactly what I think of Bledsoe based on last year's half season sample. Will he be Flash Gordon or Eric Gordon? If he can continue to tap into his vast potential and eliminate some of his puzzling lapses, perhaps it's the former. The thing is, Eric turns 25 in December and has just done so little this far into his career. Even last season he was just a very good player (when healthy), not a great one.
Here's hoping that a full, healthy season will allow him to hit that next gear because for now the Suns have hitched their franchise to his wagon. -- Jim Coughenour
Important Question: Is this his team?
No. 2: Jeff Hornacek (3.5)
Profile: Head Coach -- Second Year
Stats: Former Utah Jazz shooting coach, traded for Charles Barkley, made 2,055 three-pointers, one time All-Star, and two times Finals Runner-Up.
Interesting Fact: Sure, Karl Malone was "The Mailman," but Hornacek was "The Paperboy" in some circles. There is an APB out on a John Stockton nickname...
Analysis: The success of the team rests on Jeff Hornacek and his staff. The staff appears to be really good at devising schemes (8th on O, 15th on D with a very inexperienced team) and developing player skills, including Miles Plumlee, Keef Morris, Dragic and Bledsoe among others. But to make it work and win games in the process, the head coach has to know how to instill confidence in him, in themselves and in the scheme. Hornacek is a natural. For the Suns to win in year two, Hornacek will have an even tougher job this season. No longer are the Suns surprising themselves. They expect to win a lot and make the playoffs, yet they are still a very young team who could regress in the face of adversity. So Hornacek will have to make sure they don't get too down or too up and just stay even keeled all year while the expectations mount. -- Dave King
Important Question: How does he manage expectations?
No. 1: Goran Dragic (1.642)
Profile: 6'4" 180 lbs. Point Guard -- Seventh Year Slovenia
Stats (Last Season): In 35.1 MPG 20.3 PPG 5.9 APG 50.5% FG 40.8% 3PT
Interesting Fact: Dragic only started playing basketball after an injury derailed his youth soccer career. Good choice.
Analysis: Goran Dragic is the face of the franchise. The Dragon's rise to All-NBA status has been nothing short of remarkable, especially considering the timid, lost rookie he was just a few years ago. After he's shown an impressive level of improvement in each of the last few seasons, it will be fascinating to see where Goran's game goes this year. Nonetheless, there's no reason to doubt Gogi-we all know what kind of a competitor he is and how remarkable of a campaign he just had a season ago while splitting time at both backcourt positions. He's in the prime of his career and is likely to remain in Phoenix after he inevitably opts out of his bargain of a contract next summer. The Suns brass knows how valuable Khal Dragic is to the franchise-this no doubt played a role in the signing of Zoran Dragic, or Dragon Ball Z if you will. As the only remnant of the Steve Nash era, the Prodigal Sun will no doubt play a key role in the next chapter of this franchise's story. After Goran Dragic's brilliance last season, I can't imagine anyone else being ranked #1 in terms of importance to the Phoenix Suns. -- Sreekar Jasthi
Important Question: Is this his team?
Ohhh Nelly.... We saved the best for last.
Ending the write-in ballot's the right way, with Dave, Sean, and Mike's (sans Mike as he is on his fifteenth vacation this week):
Write-In: Bright Side of the Sun
The reason I think Bright Side of the Suns is so important to the team is that it gives the die-hard fans a place to come and read quality, in-depth articles about the inner-workings of the organization and the players, while also providing great stories and game coverage. But that's just the beginning. BSOTS is an interactive network of fans in which the community can comment and communicate with each other as well. In this respect, the fans have a place to talk to others while watching the games, or while reading articles about the latest happenings with the team. It is a community as much as it is a site to read about team news. In my opinion, it's by far the best site for all Suns related information and interaction. There's just no other place like it. -- Sean Sullivan
I first joined BSotS because I wasn't finding enough Suns news to chew on every day. I started writing because I realized that other fans felt the same way, so maybe we could generate some conversation through my posts. And now, I just can't get enough of it. I love being around the Suns - my team since Kyle Macy was the point guard - and BSotS is to thank for that. -- Dave King