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Can the Phoenix Suns become relevant in the NBA again?

I think so... and I don’t think it’s really far away

NBA: Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

As fans we have the right to be as critical of the team as we want to be and in a season like this one there is plenty to be critical of, especially after several seasons with much to be critical of.

I wanted to write a positive article about the Phoenix Suns and there are plenty of positives to point out whether you believe it or not. There are some team statistics that I could point to that are positive. There are also many positives to point out about specific players. You have to look for them but if you do you’ll find that there are quite a few positives related to the Suns this season but those alone aren’t enough to lighten the hearts of fans looking for more wins.

We have a lot of talented young players with a lot of potential. I won’t name any names because you already know who they are. We also have a few vets that are playing very good ball that I think other teams will try to trade for which could bring back future assets in the form of younger players and/or future draft picks. Although the win/loss column isn't a positive, I could point out that the Suns are at least on their way to a high pick in this year's draft that seems to be loaded with talent which is a positive.

But there are plenty of negatives that people can use to counter any of the positive things that I can come up with and trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear isn’t what I’m attempting to do here.

Barring some sort of miracle, the Suns are going to miss the playoffs for the seventh season in a row. This is strange and unusual territory for many Suns fans. The last time that the Suns missed the playoffs for more than a single season before this stretch was the three season playoff drought of 1985-86 through 1987-88. When that three year drought ended the Suns made the playoffs for thirteen consecutive seasons and only missed making the playoffs three times between 2001-02 and their last playoff appearance in 2009-10. Many younger fans have no memory of the three year drought of the 80's as many weren’t even born when it happened.

And before that three season playoff drought you have to go all the way back to the 70's to find the Suns' second longest absence from the playoffs.

The Suns came into being in 1968 and who could blame an expansion team for missing the playoffs in their first year, but in their second season the Suns made the playoffs for the first time... something few expansion teams in any sport have ever done. They lost in the first round to the Lakers but they took that series to seven games before being eliminated. It took them five years to make it back to the playoffs after that but it was worth the wait because that was the season that the Suns made their improbable run to their first appearance in the NBA Finals where they ultimately lost to the Boston Celtics 4-2. That cemented my love for the Suns as I'm sure it did for a lot of older fans. The Suns missed the playoffs the year following their first Finals appearance but made it back to the playoffs for eight straight seasons after that.

But back to the present.

The Suns are just a bad team now and have been for several seasons. We fans aren’t used to that and hopefully we will never have to get used to it. How we got to this point isn't as important as how we get out of the position we are presently in and to me it looks as though we might be on the way to a return to relevance.

This season seems to be a transitional season and transitions of any kind are often awkward and uncomfortable. We have both good young players and we have quality vets playing significant minutes. The trade deadline is swiftly approaching and I expect that there will be changes to this team that will have a huge impact upon the future of the Suns. Some of the vets will probably be leaving which will open up more time for the younger players and bring in more future assets.

At least that is what I hope will happen which is what I think that most Suns fans also expect.

So be patient - at least until the trade deadline - Suns fans. I believe that good times are going to return to the Phoenix Suns and their fans fairly soon although Suns games may not always to be fun to watch until then. There are plenty of signs of improvement both in the team as a whole and in individual players. It looks as though the youth movement is taking hold and is going to pay off... maybe sooner than any of us expect.

It’s just my opinion but I do not believe that it is going take as long as some fans fear it will before the Suns become a good and relevant basketball team again.

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