The Phoenix Suns haven’t been good in years. Phoenix hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010 and hasn’t had a winning season since 2014. Since then, they have repeatedly tripped over themselves. From multiple draft busts to the failures with the front office and coaching staff, it’s been a long time since the Suns’ fanbase has had any reason to be excited.
However, this season looks to be a change of pace.
The Suns have slowly built a decent young core for the team and, though it’s not concrete, it’s something to build off. Shooting guard Devin Booker has improved each season, blossoming into an elite scorer. Deandre Ayton averaged a double-double in an underrated rookie season and should grow greatly under the tutelage of Monty Williams. Kelly Oubre Jr. finished the season strong and Mikal Bridges had flashes of brilliance.
This core four is a solid foundation to work around. Phoenix has grabbed several role players like Ricky Rubio to change the culture of the team and take the young players to the next level. Rubio will be a solid field general, feeding his teammates and serving as a veteran in the locker room. Aron Baynes is a hard working player who’s always giving it his all, a good fit for a team that needs a hard-nose attitude.
While the Suns were criticized for the picks the team made in the NBA Draft, there’s a method to the madness. The Suns selected players who come from winning programs in college and fill a shooting need. North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson was considered the best shooting prospect in the draft. Virginia’s Ty Jerome could eventually work his way into the rotation as a backup point guard. While neither of them have the high potential that Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender had, they’re more of a finished product than those players.
While having good young players is nice, the front office has to be on top of their game to make it all work. The Suns have been plagued by the decisions of owner Robert Sarver and his desire to control what’s going on with his team instead of allowing them to do their jobs.
This time, though, it feels different.
After promoting James Jones to be their general manager, he’s made a lot of good moves to clean up the roster and put this core where it is. It feels like Jones isn’t just a puppet for Sarver, but someone who’s been given real power and the freedom to make moves. Jones was also able to hire Williams as head coach for the Suns, beating out the Lakers. Williams has had a lot of success and is very well respected among the NBA. He should be able to get the most out of these young bucks.
The Suns weren’t playoff bound, but the team has made a lot of great moves to at least clean themselves up. Phoenix has plenty of high character players to build a new culture around.
Forming a contender is tedious process, and it takes time. The Suns aren’t going to flip a switch one day and just become better, it’s going to take at least a year to get back on track.
Would I be surprised if the 2019-20 Suns underachieved? No, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team wins close to 40 games. Regardless, this roster is the most intriguing Phoenix has had in years.