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Why more losses might actually be better for the Phoenix Suns

An explanation as to why the Suns need to be playing for the future as opposed to the present.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns currently sit in the eighth-seed in the Western Conference. They are 1 game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans and a 1.5-games in front of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In my opinion, Phoenix will not be making the playoffs unless there are multiple catastrophic injuries to any of the top seven teams plus the Thunder.

fresh standings

The Suns and Oklahoma City have the same point differential right now (+2.1), and one of these teams has played 21 of their 34 games without one of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, including 14 without both. Based on prior success for the Thunder, with Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka healthy they're going to win 70% of their games going forward.

The next closest team is the Spurs, who despite a poor month are still six games over .500 with a +3.5 point differential. What other team is going to drop off? The Mavericks have been playing well with Rondo, if Josh Smith doesn't end up working out in Houston they can send him away for virtually nothing and the Warriors/Trail Blazers are setting a blow torch to the rest of the league. Are the Grizzlies going to fall off?

The Suns have a pretty solid team, but because of the circumstances there isn't much hope for this season despite their current record.

To understand the context of this roster you have to go back to when Ryan McDonough was hired. They essentially made an attempt to gut the roster, keep their cap sheet in a good position and load up on draft picks for the future.

From a Zach Lowe story last season:

Lowe Article pic

The Suns lucked into a 48-win roster. If everything went according to plan the Suns would have introduced Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker on opening night of the 2014-15 season.

This past offseason the Suns could have chosen continuity by re-signing Channing Frye and bringing back the same crew. The guys running the team didn't think that group was good enough, which is why they tried to do this:


For any sort of plan like that to go through, McDonough would have had to essentially blow up the entire roster.

When that didn't work they chose to sign diminutive point guard Isaiah Thomas. Thomas provided two positives - he was cost effective and would prop up their non-Dragic lineups that struggled last season - it was a win-win.

To try to replace Frye they bargain shopped with Anthony Tolliver - it didn't work.

McDonough thought a team with 48 wins and a +2.6 point differential including a 28-15 record with +3.2 point differential when Eric Bledsoe played wasn't good enough.

So now you're telling me he's cool to let a team with a 19-16 record against the 10th easiest schedule in the league according to grow together for an extended period?

I'm not around the Suns on a regular basis, but I've done enough to see that they treat their players the right way. They care and want what's best for them. That doesn't mean McDonough isn't in the asset accumulation phase of building this team. His actions and how they've gone about constructing the roster speak to this.

I don't know if you call it tanking or being smart looking forward to the future, but we're nearing the point where the Suns should adjust their rotation.

In the 10 games since Alex Len has been moved into the starting lineup Bledsoe and Dragic are each playing 35 minutes a night, Green 22, Marcus Morris 22.5, Markieff Morris 30.5 and P.J. Tucker 29.5.

I'd get Bledsoe and Dragic's minutes back towards the low 30 range instead of the mid 30s. There's also minutes to distribute to others between Tucker, the Morrii and Green.

These can go to rookies T.J. Warren, Tyler Ennis and second-year guard Archie Goodwin. The Suns have to decide on whether to pick up an option on Goodwin during next season. It would be nice to see how's he coming along in live game action even though at the age 20 he's essentially a lock to keep at that salary.

In addition to letting young players get experience, another potential result of this would be getting a slightly higher draft slot. It's unlikely they fall anymore than two spots from 14 to 12, but who knows come draft time how important that could be. Maybe you can get a player that would have been drafted before during those two picks or 12 looks more attractive in a potential trade package than 14.

Am I saying the Suns should start losing intentionally? No.

Am I saying there are actions the Suns should take in their best interest that could end up resulting in more losses? Absolutely.

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