The Suns got Charlie Brown’d by the ESPN Power Ranking team this week, who happily played the role of Lucy in a never-ending turnstile of Lucy’s.
Their post draft and free-agency Power Rankings have the Phoenix Suns at 25th in the league — up three spots from a month ago! Yet, the commentary under the ranking was like Lucy pulling the ball away just before Charlie Brown could make contact.
First, Lucy gently places the ball on the ground, finger balancing it on it’s tip...
And then, just as we approach the ball, Lucy yanks it back to uproarious laughter...
“The rest of the summer has been a head scratcher” he says, as they focused on the machinations of the roster moves themselves, just like we all have been doing, rather than the net result.
Their mid-June post-Finals rankings — before the draft and free agency — had the Suns all the way down at 28th. But look at those team needs...
“The Suns will try to add more help around Devin Booker by either keeping or trading the sixth overall pick.”
If we pull back the focus on the lens from these last two weeks, you might remember we have been begging the Suns to trade that non-Zion pick for MONTHS, if not all year, in a way to acquire more playable talent around Booker. James Jones turned that sixth pick into a young starting power forward, and then turned the low-first Milwaukee pick into a solid backup center, while also adding two rotation prospects.
“They need to upgrade at point guard but have no significant cap space available, unless they make a trade or let restricted free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. go.”
Well, they upgraded the point guard without letting Oubre go. You can look at the filling of the point guard slot as a trade-out of T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson which, in my recollection, was a perfect scenario we’ve been praying on for months. Few of us thought they could acquire a true starting quality pass-first point guard with only about $9 million in cap space while keeping both Mikal Bridges and Oubre without having to waive/stretch Tyler Johnson.
Now the Suns have an upgraded roster AND still have their biggest trade chip (Tyler Johnson) in their back pocket.
Let’s go back a year. Remember when the off season rhetoric was that the Suns had upgraded their roster into a combination of win-now and win-later? Pundits loved the Suns moves. Here’s the same analyst making commentary on the Suns’ preseason ranking of No. 24 last year.
All positives. And yet, the team was worse than ever. Ariza stunk up the joint, and the fact that they entered the 2018-19 season with only three rotation players in or approaching their athletic primes (T.J. Warren, Richaun Holmes, Troy Daniels) was completely lost on the pundits. This year the Suns will enter the season with eight rotation players near or in their athletic prime — a much more playable roster.
The takeaway I’m trying to share here is: don’t get caught up in all this positivity or negativity. The Suns should be held accountable in the WIN-LOSS column from now on, not their off season transactions.
Back to this week’s poll, let’s peruse the neighborhood.
Not great, Bob.
Directly above the Suns now, in this poll, are Thunder (who just might end up tanking this season), the Hawks and Bulls (who pundits love the summer moves more than they love the Suns’), and the Wolves and Kings (who are mostly being ranked based on last year’s results).
Above them, in the late-teens of the poll, are the Magic, Mavericks and Pelicans. All have good vibes this offseason, and for good reason, but all are a complete unknown how they’re going to handle an 82-game schedule. Dallas failed to add a true starting-level player around Luka and the recovering Unicorn. The Magic ran it back to try to recreate an unexpectedly good result, and the Pelicans had a huge overhaul but would have to win more games with a rookie than they could with Anthony Davis to keep their No. 17 overall ranking through the season.
Could the Suns vault into the late teens of these polls next season, which would mean they have a cinderella’s chance at a playoff run? Sure, they could.
They could also drop all the way into the depths again if Rubio and Saric crap out. But I am more optimistic about Oubre, Rubio and Saric than I ever was about Canaan, Ariza and Ryno.