Over the first 45 games of this season, us Phoenix Suns fans have seen our once-promising team sink to the NBA's bottom. We have become the chaff that the NBA separates from its delicious wheat. And as fans, we have done what we always do in situations like this — take to the comments to voice our displeasure with whatever isn't working well (which has been just about everything by now).
But that all takes place in our own world. What do those outside the bubble, so to speak, think of our team? To find out, I asked some of our cohorts at SB Nation to share their individual take on the state of the Phoenix Suns. Here's what they had to say.
Let's start in the Eastern Conference with David Zavac of Cleveland's Fear The Sword:
The Suns are in a weird in-between space. I like Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe in a vacuum, and there is shooting around them. Giving away Chandler for free if you could swing it would probably be the best bet. If you decide those two guards can't co-exist, I think I'd try and move Knight. I'll never understand why Phoenix doesn't seem to get more attention from free agents. Bottoming out this season and going for a Harrison Barnes type player in the summer makes some sense to me.
Next up is Jake Whitacre, who writes for Washington's Bullets Forever:
If I've learned anything from watching bad Wizard teams over the years, it's that you can't fully assess a situation until you get rid of all the problems. The Suns can't move on and figure out where to go next until they get rid of Morris, Hornacek and McDonough. They all may wind up doing better in new situations, but nothing is going to get fixed while they're all there together, and even if you keep one of them, they'll always be remembered for how they're connected to the demises of the others. The sooner you hit the reset button, the sooner you can figure out what to do with what you have left.
Tom Lorenzo of NetsDaily offers his take from Brooklyn:
It could be worse — you could be the Brooklyn Nets. I think, to a fan, you couldn't find anyone who would rather be in the Nets position over the Suns position. Not sure if that provides much comfort, but let us remind you that it could be worse!
And here is Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers, offering up an authentic taste of Philly fandom:
I will not mince words. I take great pleasure in the Suns demise. Not because I have anything against Phoenix as a city (my sister lives in Gilbert) or the players or anything. There was a lot of talk pre-2013-14 season about how the Suns were rebuilding "the right way" and the Sixers were shameful assholes. That continued when the Suns had a surprisingly good year, finishing just outside of the playoffs. The next year wasn't as successful, but hovering around .500, they were the shining example of what teams should be doing, rather than that rat-infested league-wide embarrassment orgy happening in Philawhateverthefuck.
But now that the Suns are dogshit at 14-31 and locked into two not-special stars and a dead Tyson Chandler for 4-5 years, it's time to have a pissing contest and compare the teams. The Sixers, famously, remain uncertain, with plenty of balls in the air — whether it's lottery balls, Jerry Colangelo's old balls, Embiid's foot, or Saric's buyout. But they're young and loaded with picks and financial flexibility and actually enjoy playing with each other. Despite the losing, the culture is good. Phoenix, in all of their Right Way-ness, seems to hate one another, and despite the fanbase's insistence that they are awesome, Archie Goodwin and (to a lesser extent) Alex Len continue to ride the bench.
I'm sure the lottery will grant you, like it did Minnesota (x2, by way of Cleveland), a top pick, because organizational philosophy matters less than blind luck when the ping pong gods decide. But until that happens, I will continue to enjoy this festering mess of a franchise that is destined to top out at mediocrity.
Moving to the Western Conference, Eric in Madison, who writes for Minnesota's Canis Hoopus, goes historical with his take:
I've been reading a lot of the historian Barbara Tuchman recently, and one of her consistent themes is how frequently leaders pursue policies against their best interests, even when there are clear alternatives available at the time. There are various reasons why this happens, but it's a common thread through history. I view the Suns over the last 12 months or so in this context.
Their trade deadline activities last season were not pursuant to any sensible policy, and they led to a short and likely medium term downturn that was entirely unnecessary. Blessed with remarkable depth at the guard spot (Dragic, Bledsoe, and Thomas), trying to convert some of that for help elsewhere might have been a sensible plan. That's not what the Suns did, however, instead moving Thomas and Dragic as well as a potentially very valuable draft asset for yet another guard (Knight) and some future picks of uncertain value.
I don't need to tell your readers this — they all know the transactions better than me. I will just say that the maneuvers following the trade deadline do not appear to follow any coherent plan for either getting younger or seriously competing, while at the same time not being particularly economically sensible either.
In short, the Suns need to come up with a feasible plan given the current situation and pursue it with intelligence as opposed to whatever piecemeal activity that has characterized the last year.
Then we have Oleh Kosel, representing The Bird Writes and New Orleans — another franchise that understands not living up to expectations this season:
The Phoenix Suns are the unfortunate victim of a where-most-things-go-wrong season — a death sentence for a middling team. The Markieff Morris debacle should have been nipped in the bud before the start of the regular season, but thankfully the team's plight doesn't appear to be a rock bottom that requires a drawn-out rebuild. The Suns have enviable youth and talent all along the perimeter, a necessity that seemingly grows in importance each passing NBA season. Hope to hit a home run in the 2016 NBA draft; otherwise, don't be afraid to make a deal that returns solid All-Star potential. Eric Bledsoe is good, but the team needs a more dependable face of the franchise.
Staying in the Southwest Division, BrunoPassos of San Antonio's Pounding The Rock provides this take:
I'm compelled to tread lightly here as a Spurs fan, but I find the Suns to be maybe the hardest franchise to get a read on in the NBA. A hodgepodge of clever and head-scratching moves over recent years makes me wonder if Phoenix could be a Deep Thought experiment. We might never know what 'The Question' is, but maybe Devin Booker is the answer?
Now for a couple takes representing the Pacific Division. First is Aykis16, of Sacramento's Sactown Royalty:
To me the Suns are a young team with some very nice pieces but they don't have what I'd consider a franchise player. Eric Bledsoe is a very good player, but I don't think he's a guy you can build your team around. They're in a weird spot, because they had some bigger ambitions after taking the league by surprise for a couple years, but I feel as if they tried too hard to speed the process up and in the end got burned for it.
Fortunately, the Suns have plenty of young talent and assets to build around. I think Devin Booker can be a special player one day and he's already showing off his offensive repertoire. Alex Len is a talented big man and T.J. Warren is a gifted scorer. I think the Suns should build around these young players and stay flexible while they search for opportunities to land a star (say someone like a Kevin Love).
And here is Nate Parham from the defending champs' home site Golden State Of Mind:
I don't really know what to say about the Suns right now — Jeff Hornacek's tenure seemed to get off to a promising start a few years ago, but even he has reportedly been on the hot seat this season.
As a fan of the team that now has Steve Kerr, Rick Welts, Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa...all I can think of is how quickly championship windows close, how important it is to have the right pieces in the right places at the right time, and how important it is to savor every moment of success.
Finally, we have Oklahoma City's Welcome to Loud City, the only site to offer a contingent of individual takes on the state of the Suns. First up is Marina Mangiaracina:
I think of the Suns as a team that's way too short-sighted. Any time they get a little bit of positive momentum they sacrifice too much to build behind it. Those last couple of years with Nash were pointless. I also think trying to build off of the small amount of success they had with Dragic/Bledsoe was a huge mistake. That wasn't even a playoff team! Now they're stuck with a bunch of old dudes and no future. They need to secure Warren and Booker moving forward and accept losing for a couple of seasons. Front office also needs to be more upfront with players.
Next, R.K. Anthony:
The Phoenix Suns seem to have an ownership problem. The best analogy I can come up with is a rich kid whose Daddy bought him a nice car who is now hellbent on driving it into the ground. Robert Sarver bought this team in 2004 and is on his 5th General Manager in just 12 years!!! In the team's previous 36 years the Suns had 2 GM's, owner Jerry Colangelo and his son Bryan. The tenures of their 4 successors are 1 year, 3 years, 3 years, and currently 3 years. Something made Bryan Colangelo walk away from the franchise his father built from scratch and the indicator is pretty much locked on Sarver. Three years is simply not enough time for a team to fully develop an identity. My overall take on the Suns is give them time, they will screw it up. I see that Devin Booker posted yet another career night in the Suns recent loss to the Spurs, wet your lips NBA GM's, Sarver will somehow blow this one too.
Third, Chris Hanneke:
I don't really ever give any thought to the Suns. Which I think says it all.
And lastly, in the "a picture is worth a thousand words" camp, Bennett Berry (photo credit to W. Bennett Berry):
So there you have it, Suns fans. Whose take did you agree with most? Disagree with most? Maybe you just want to comment for no reason. Whatever the case, let your voice be heard below.
And I would like to take a moment to thank Fear The Sword, Bullets Forever, NetsDaily, Liberty Ballers, Canis Hoopus, The Bird Writes, Pounding The Rock, Sactown Royalty, Golden State Of Mind, and Welcome to Loud City for their contributions to this effort.