The decade of the teens is almost over, so of course we have to create a series of articles ranking the best and worst of the decade of Phoenix Suns basketball.
First, I must define what I consider a decade in the NBA world. For me, the 20-tens would be all the seasons that start with a 1 in the third position. That means this analysis goes from the 2010-11 season to the 2019-20 season.
Some would argue that the decade of the 2010s starts with 2011 and ends with 2020, but I am NOT one of those people. Others would argue that the 20-teens should start with the 2009-10 season because the second half of that season was in the tens. I am not one of those people either. Those of you who want to argue the years included in an NBA decade in review need to just relax and go with it.
Let’s review the teams of the decade which included ZERO playoff appearances.
Suns record: 40-42, Offensive Rating: 7, Defensive Rating: 25
The broken-up Finals contender! Also known as the start of the Lance Blanks era. Also known as the summer Robert Sarver ran the front office. The year of Hakeem Warrick, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu replacing Amare Stoudemire. The year of Jason Richardson and Hedo being traded for Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter and Mikael Pietrus. Goran Dragic AND a first round pick being traded for Aaron Brooks.
- Some players you might want to list as your favorites for the 2010-11 season could include Steve Nash, Channing Frye, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and Robin Lopez.
Suns record: 33-33, Offensive Rating: 9, Defensive Rating: 24
The swan song of MVSteve. The dawn of the Morrii. The year of the player strike, so no trades of big signings and only 66 game season. Roster churn included Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price being added. The big first round pick was Markieff Morris at 13th overall.
This was an utterly forgettable year where the season ended with the crowd chanting for Nash, knowing he was a summer goner.
- Candidates for favorite player: Gortat, Nash, Frye, Dudley, RoLo, Kieff
Suns record: 25-57, Offensive Rating: 29, Defensive Rating: 23
The pelvic shearing of a franchise. The year of replacing Steve Nash with Kendall Marshall (first round pick) and Goran Dragic, and signing Michael Beasley as the big July 1 free agent, then firing Gentry mid-season to promote Lindsey Hunter to head coach. On the good side, P.J. Tucker was discovered that year and the Suns earned their highest draft pick since the 80s.
- Candidates for favorite player: Dragic, Gortat, Luis Scola, Hamed Haddadi, Luke Zeller
Suns record: 48-34, Offensive Rating: 8, Defensive Rating: 15
The rebirth! Remember when we thought a three-year playoff drought was unreasonable?! FINALLY the Suns had a winning team again with the hiring of McNinja as GM and fan-fave Jeff Hornacek as coach. Ahh the feels! Alex Len was taken 5th overall and Archie GODwin was the surprise hero of Summer League. Eric Bledsoe was McStunna’s first big trade. Then Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee for Scola. Then Ish Smith for Caron Butler. Then a future first round pick for Gortat to clear out roster logjams and let Miles Plumlee and Alex Len be the future in the middle. And finally, Channing Frye returned from missing a year due to an enlarged heart to make he and Dragic the most lethal pick-and-pop combo in the league. Everything came out like GOLD. Across the board, nearly every player had the best season of their careers to date.
- Candidates for favorite player: Channing, Dragon, Bled, Gerald Green, Plumlee, Ish, P.J. Tucker, Morrii
Suns record: 39-43, Offensive Rating: 16, Defensive Rating: 17
The crash! All that went well the year before started going downhill. It started with the dramatic dalliance for LeBron (I still remember the Bright Side After Dark pod gushing over LBJ dreams) that quietly lost fan fave Channing Frye in the process. The summer-long silent treatment holdout of Bledsoe. Isaiah Thomas being added to make a Hydra backcourt (and insurance against Bledsoe). Then the ugliness of Dragic being relegated to small forward and demanding a trade. And the Path of Destruction of the Morrii. Ahh the madness. Even so, the Suns were 38-33 and in playoff position until losing 10 of their last 11 games to finish with the 13th pick again.
- Candidates for favorite player: Dragon, Bled, IT, Green... anyone else?
Suns record: 23-59, Offensive Rating: 28, Defensive Rating: 25
The burn! Ohh the misery. McD reportedly tried desperately to trade up in the draft to take Frank the Tank at 8th or 9th overall, but Charlotte held their ground to keep him. Then McD tried to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and Tyson Chandler together, dumping Marcus Morris in the process and ending up with just a washed-up Tyson. The Morrii completely melted down. Sonny Weems and Mirza Teletovic rounded out the roster. The year was a disaster and once again a competent, lovable coach was dumped midseason for a rookie insurgent player development intern. The only good thing was stumbling onto Devin Booker in the draft.
- Candidates for favorite player: Sheesh. Bled? Mirza? 19-year old Devin Booker?
Suns record: 24-58, Offensive Rating: 22, Defensive Rating: 28
The smolder. Ahh, the summer of love for Earl Watson and gang as they embraced the first year of the worst and ugliest multi-year tank job in NBA history. The season was spent documenting ‘youngest ever’ milestones from teenagers like Booker, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. By this time, even Alex Len (22) was considered old and out of touch. Almost the whole roster was super-old or super-young. Eric Bledsoe was the only guy in his prime, so they sat him for the final third of the season to tamp down wins.
- Candidates for favorite player: Bled, Book, Big Sauce, T.J. Warren?, Duds?
Suns record: 21-61, Offensive Rating: 30, Defensive Rating: 30
Dont wanna be here. The summer of love turned quickly into the fall of despair. Bledsoe wanted an extension, then he wanted out. Earl Watson was reportedly given an ultimatum to fire his agent or lose his job. Three losses by 92 points later, both were gone and 21-year old Booker was left behind as the team leader on one of the worst teams in NBA history. But at least they got the #1 overall pick out of it, right?
- Candidates for favorite player: Book, T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, Bender, Chriss, Len?
Suns record: 19-63, Offensive Rating: 23, Defensive Rating: 28
The Timeline takes hold. Lots of births this decade huh? A rookie coach, one of youngest teams in the league (either players 23 or under), and still counting on major growth from super-young, unproven players. So why not let the awful GM build the whole roster around Ayton and Booker and then only fire him when the preseason showed how awful he still was at building rosters? The team was set up to fail, and fail they did.
Glimmers of light were James Jones’ trades after taking over the front office — swapping the awful Trevor Ariza for Kelly Oubre Jr. and sending Ryan Anderson to Miami for Tyler Johnson. The acquisition of playable vets sparked a good 10-game run (6-4 record, including wins over conference leaders) before injuries derailed the progress.
- Candidates for favorite player: Book, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Oubre, Tyler, Richaun Holmes
Suns record: 12-20 so far, Offensive Rating: 10, Defensive Rating: 19
The struggle back up the hill. This year is about re-establishing a positive, winning culture. James Jones spent the summer building playable, but mostly young, NBA veterans around Booker, Ayton and Bridges. Ricky Rubio at the point and Aron Baynes at center has helped solidify quality play, though injury and suspension have derailed some of the progress. Kelly Oubre Jr. has become the team’s energy leader while not being the most talented.
Still, the roster is deeper with talent than at any time since 2015 before the trade deadline and now just needs Ayton back to see how he and Booker fit together for a future playoff team.
- Candidates for favorite player: Book, Basketball Jesus, Booker Baynes, Valley Boy, Super Dario, Frank the Tank, Bulldog,
The obvious answers to the ‘favorite player of the decade’ question are Nash (two seasons) and Booker (five seasons).
So, let’s throw those two off the table. Of course, you’d pick those guys if you could.
Beyond Nash and Booker, who would be your favorite player of the decade? The poll below lists a half dozen, but if you’ve got a different favorite please mention them in the comment section.
Favorite Suns player of the decade (not Nash or Booker)
This poll is closed
P.J. "Mr. Hustle Award" Tucker (5 seasons)
Eric "Wanted to be here for a while" Bledsoe (5 seasons)
Goran "The Dragon" Dragic (4 seasons this decade)
Jared "Dudz" Dudley (5 seasons this decade)
Channing "ICMF" Frye (3 seasons this decade)
Alan "Big Sauce" Williams (2 seasons)
Kelly "Valley Boyz" Oubre Jr. (2 seasons)