clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Phoenix Suns’ long, slow fall from grace in the All-Time NBA standings

New, comments

The Suns have fallen from 4th to 7th in all-time winning percentage this season.

Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Back at the end of the 2009-10 season, the Suns finished with a 54-28 record and made it all the way to the Western Conference finals. There they fell to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals 4-2 on May 29, 2010.

That was the last NBA game that the Suns played during the month of May.

At the end of that season, the Suns had an all-time win/loss percentage of .561 which was 4th best in the NBA behind only the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. The Suns were sometimes called “the best NBA franchise to never win a championship”.

The following season, Amar’e Stoudemire left for the bright lights of NYC and President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr left to become a color commentator on TNT. The Suns replaced Amar’e with Hedo Turkoglu & Hakim Warrick and Kerr with Lance Blanks (GM) and Lon Babby (PoBO).

Very little has gone right for the Suns since then.

From the 2010-11 season through 2017-18, the Suns have won only 252 out of 640 games (.394), have not been back to the playoffs and have had only one season with a winning record (48-34 in 2013-14). That .561 all-time winning percentage has gradually eroded to .534 and during this season the Suns have fallen from 4th to 7th in the all-time standings. That doesn’t sound that bad but it’s another sign of how badly this franchise has been managed in just the past 8 years.

There are presently 13 NBA teams that have an all-time win/loss record of over .500. The Suns are still one of them and that’s not likely to change in even in the next 8 years. The sheer number of the games already played in the Suns’ 50 seasons means that one single bad season will not have a large effect on the overall numbers... but neither will one single good season. It will take years - perhaps decades - of winning seasons for the Suns to get back to where they were and I honestly don’t think that will ever happen. It’s quite possible that they fall to 8th or even 9th before they can start winning enough to just stop the fall.

That .534 W/L percentage works out to an average season record of 44-38. Anything less than that will only continue to pull that all-time average further down. I have yet to run across a single Suns fan that believes that the Suns will or can win 45+ games next season Most hope for 30-35 wins but would not put a bet down on it... unless they got really good odds.

Fingers of blame have been pointed in every direction over the years for the Suns’ decline as a franchise but there has been only one constant over that period of time.

Suns owner, Robert Sarver.

Sarver bought the franchise back in 2004. Back then the Suns really weren’t a very good team (29-53 in the 2003-04 season) but Sarver kept his hands to himself and let chief executive Bryan Colangelo and new head coach Mike D’Antoni run things for him. He was rewarded in the 2004-05 season with a 62-20 record and a trip to the Western Conference Finals where the Suns lost to the eventual NBA champs, the San Antonio Spurs.

The Suns were a great team for a while but, like a great sports car, it needs maintenance over time and the Suns really didn’t get that. You can’t buy cut-rate replacement parts for a Ferrari or skip oil changes and regular tuneups and expect it to keep running at top performance or expect that it will not some day just completely break down.

No one can take an objective look at this franchise today and say that it isn’t broken down.

Every new season I try to be optimistic and hope for the best. At the moment, I’m not at all optimistic but I haven’t quite crossed over into the realm of pessimism yet. I’m just kind of numb. I’m tired of all the losing. I’m tired of looking for “silver linings” instead of celebrating victories. I want to be watching the Suns play basketball in May (and hopefully in June) again.

We can only hope that the state of the Suns today bothers Robert Sarver as much as it does the fans and that motivates him to finally fix it... the right way.