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The Phoenix Suns should try to win all their games

In response to a recent article suggesting the Phoenix Suns should accept they won't make the playoffs and start playing their youngest players to develop them even if it means losing more games - we say no.

Suns win!
Suns win!
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

My old friend Bryan Gibberman went to one of his favorite things in sports with this article, looking to the future. No one disagrees with his goal of the Suns doing things now to be better later. It's all a question of "how" and he raises fair points and started an interesting discussion. If nothing else this site exists for Suns fans to have discussions about the Suns so good job on you, Gibberman.

However, as Marcus Morris put it so perfectly on Twitter, the entire thing is foolishness.

Bryan's argument boils down to this: The Suns won't make the playoffs so they should reduce the minutes of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe from around 35 per game to about 30 and somehow also reduce the minutes of other wing players (Marcus Morris, PJ Tucker and Gerald Green) and give the floor time to rookies Tyler Ennis and TJ Warren along with 2nd-year stud Archie Goodwin. The goal is to improve the team's draft position by a few places and develop and assess the youngest of the youngsters on the roster.

Sigh.

For the rebuttal I'm sharing these thoughts from the rest of the Bright Side staff from the comments of the original story:

-- Dave King says: "While the Suns built the team for the future last year and yes they were as surprised as the rest of us when the team won 48 games, they never wanted to lose games. They just decided to put youth out there, and if winning came out of it that's perfect. And winning did. Now the Suns need to take that next step to the playoffs, and I for one am willing to grab my popcorn and wait to see how the team accomplishes that."

-- Jim Coughenour says: "Before the deadline or by next season there will likely be some changeover. That may lead to some time for players like Goodwin and Ennis... who still can't even drink legally. Or those guys might be moved. The entire roster is very fungible with good assets and no real liabilities."

and

"The young guys are already getting playing time. Markieff, Marcus, Isaiah, Eric, Alex... These guys form part of a young core. The team already wisely moved Tolliver, which should create a few more minutes for Warren the rest of the season if he earns them."

-- Jacob Padilla says: "Gibby is definitely right that the Suns have at best the ninth best odds of making the playoffs, which isn't ideal since there are only eight spots. However, as the ninth best team, they need only one team to falter - for whatever reason - in order for them to make the top eight. Is it really that farfetched to to think a top team could lose a key player?"

and

"It's not like the Suns have a lot of old guys on the way out stealing minutes from the young guys. Nearly everyone that plays now is looked to as having a role on the team next year as well. So who do you sit down? How do you explain it to them and get them to buy in?"

(This is an important point: How do you look at Goran Dragic and tell him he should be playing less -- in a contract year! -- all so Tyler Ennis can get a few minutes?)

-- Ray Hrovat says: "I'd love to see what Warren, Goodwin and Ennis could do, but they haven't earned playing time over the guys above them on the depth chart. Why send them the message that they're entitled to minutes? And why take minutes from players who have paid their dues and proven they deserve them?

-- Rollin Mason says: "The only thing I disagree with is the timing. The team isn't yet at the precipice of making such a decision. I'd imagine that back in January of 2010 there were people opining that the Suns should give Earl Clark a rotation spot since they were only treading water, but doing so might've torpedoed what became a WCF team. While I don't think this Suns team has enough veterans to make a run in the playoffs, like Sam said above a playoff berth would be a huge step in rebuilding a fanbase that has slowly crumbled since Amare left town."

-- Geoff Allen tries to defend Gibberman by saying:

"We should lose more games, and the end result will be a better team!" and "We should pursue more playing time for our young guys, which will make us a better team and organization, but might lose us a few more games?"

This seems to be the fundamental problem here. Most people seem to be assuming Gibby's point is the first clause, otherwise known as the Philly strategy. But that isn't in the slightest what Gibby is saying. It just isn't. The motivation of Gibby's argument isn't to lose for the sake of losing and what losing entails, but to accept the potential of more losses because of the net gains that will come from giving minutes to young players, both from a player development standpoint and an asset management stand point.

Gibberman makes this same point (again) in a Twitter comment that he's not advocating "tanking".

This is exactly the place where I have the biggest problem with the logic.

We can debate the Suns chances of making the playoffs, the value of a 12th pick versus a 14th pick and the potential abilities of a few young players. But where I really get my feathers in a ruffle is when you say that playing certain guys you admit might give you less of a chance to win isn't tanking.

If you as a coach or front office aren't playing the guys you think will win each game then you are tanking. (And by the way, Philly isn't "losing for the sake of losing". That's a straw man.)

If you are hurting both present and future you are not only tanking but you are horrible at tanking.

Tanking is losing now to win later. There are degrees with the Spurs on one end (resting older players during the regular season) and the Sixers on the other end (giving up several seasons in hopes of being good years down the road).

That's what Gibberman argues for with his suggested rotation adjustments. The only way his "it's not taking" logic holds up is if he thinks that playing Ennis, Warren and Goodwin will help the Suns either make or succeed in the playoffs this year.

He's not making that case because that doesn't make sense. You can't have it both ways and say that you should do something that might cause you to lose more games and not call it tanking.

I'll even go further and expand on some of the above comments and say that reducing the minutes of the team's core players (Bledsoe, Dragic, Morris, Morris, Tucker, Thomas and Green) hurts the team's present and future. These guys are still young and need to play and, as we've seen with the start of this season, they need to play together as much as possible. If you are hurting both present and future you are not only tanking but you are horrible at tanking.

The roster has imbalance issues and almost too many good assets but the answer for that is to adjust the roster not the rotation. We'll see if that happens at the deadline or in the summer but in the mean time this team seems to have turned a corner between the Knicks and Wizards game and is now playing with great energy, joy and cohesion. After a rough start, they are looking like a team playing up to its potential and we should see what that looks for at least a few months if not the rest of the season.