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Grading the Fanning the Flames’ All-Time Suns Fantasy Draft

The Fanning the Flames podcast invited Flex from Jersey and Daniel Duarte to draft their own legendary Suns teams, generating their rosters from a pool of any player who donned a Phoenix jersey. And I am here to grade those results.

Phoenix Suns Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images

We’ve all done it: played armchair general manager. Trade this guy! Sign that dude! We gotta draft a big! One of the alluring aspects of professional sports is gathering information on players and making educated opinions on decisions that should be made. It makes for debate and fodder, and I believe it is the foundation NBA Twitter.

If you have played fantasy sports in any capacity, you get to live out your dream of being a GM. You scout the players, take note of your draft position, make your first pick, and hope all goes your way. Or you auto-draft because you forget what night that draft is, but somehow make the playoffs like a chump.

Numerous podcasts are, in an effort to generate content, re-drafting select NBA Draft classes based on what we know now. And by “select”, I mean every draft class. How can you re-draft 2018? It hasn’t been two full seasons yet! The concept is almost more overplayed than that “Old Town Road” crap. Almost.

Justin and Paul, hosts of the Fanning the Flames podcast on the Bright Side of the Sun network, had a much better and fresh idea: let’s get four guys together and draft our own team using the Suns franchise players as our pool. Why four? Because two wouldn’t be any fun!

And that is what they did, enlisting the assistance of Flex from Jersey (@cruzfe13) and Daniel Duarte (@DDuarte89). The rules were simple:

  • You can draft 6 players: 5 starters and a Sixth Man.
  • You must draft a coach.
  • Snake Draft rules apply.
  • You receive the Suns version of the player only. If you draft Shaq, you’re getting Suns Shaq, not Lakers Shaq.
  • Draft order would be Paul, Daniel, Justin, Flex

To hear to the episodes, which are a quality listen, see below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Those gents were assigned with being the GM’s. I get to be Mel Kiper, grading their teams. Did we end up with a bunch of Colangelo’s? Or is there a McDonough in the bunch?

How do you grade four teams full of superstars and Suns legends? Everyone should get an A, right? Trust me, it is no easy task putting together a system that is fair. There are flaws, I know. You can weight the statistics based on time played with the team, as to not make it advantageous for guys who were here a short time. You can take just their best season numbers. Et cetera, et cetera, whatever. It’s a fake draft.

Here is how I approached grading each team, using objective statistics and subjective points to determine who won the draft:

  • Grading on a Curve: I will take each lineup and add their career Suns totals in different offensive and defensive categories. Once these totals have been found, I will ‘grade on a curve”, with the top team setting the 100% mark (example: If Team 1 totals 109.7 ppg, and that is the highest mark of any team, and Team 2 totals 94.2 ppg, that is 85.9% for Team 2, which is a B).
  • Offensive Statistics: Points-per-game, offensive-rebounds-per-game, assists-per-game.
  • Defensive Statistics: Defensive-rebounds-per-game, steals-per-game, blocks-per-game.
  • My Opinion: The seventh and final grade will be my subjective opinion of how the roster is built and how I think the team would perform relative to no specific era of basketball.

Add up all of the grades, divide by 7, and boom. You get your grade!

Seem like a lot? Perhaps. But it is as fair as I can be without using subjectivity as a prime factor. Why? Because each of these teams are fantastic! If you want to sift through all of the data gathered, simply click here.

Let’s see the lineups and grades!

Overall Grade: C

My Opinion: That is a lot of white dudes in the starting lineup. Ah, ‘The Sunburns’...I get it! Slather on some sun screen and let’s take a look at what Paul did here.

Paul had the #1 overall pick and went with Steve Nash. You have to, right? He is the only player in Suns history to win to league MVP’s. That is the guy you want leading your team. Whoever you put around him, he will make them better.

Throw in TC and Thunder Dan, and that is a great looking lineup. I can see Nash running the high pick-and-roll with Chambers, dishing it out to Majerle in the corner for three as a tertiary option on the play. Westy can come off of screens and hit those mid-range jumpers all day.

And then there is Gortat. Paul explains his affinity for the Polish Hammer on the podcast. And given how late he took him, opting to go center in the 5th round, that is pretty much the best that was left. Shaq had better stats than Gortat, but if you have Nash running Gentry’s system, Marcin is the better fit.

This team appears to have the offensive fire power and would be fun to watch, but would struggle on the boards. This is why it’s always tough to have the #1 pick in a snake draft. You get the best player, but then have to wait quite some time to get a secondary player. My Grade: B

What the Stats Say: Compared to the other teams drafted, this is the weakest team. Surprisingly, even with Nash at the helm, the team came in last in assists. They also came in last in rebounding. But they came in first in sunscreen used at Lake Pleasant in July.

Overall Grade: A

My Opinion: Any team that drafts Shawn Marion instantly has my respect. If you know me, I love The Matrix and think he instantly makes any team he is on better. Great second pick, Daniel.

Imagine Marion and Barkley playing along side each other. Are those chills I just felt? Sprinkle in some Jason Kidd and you have yourself and very effective defensive lineup.

What is scary is this team could be even more stacked. Daniel chose Mike D’Antoni at coach in round 5 rather than shoring up his shooting guard position. That is perhaps the only challenge this team would have. D’Antoni, known for fast paced basketball, wouldn’t have the tools to execute his vision. This team is designed to slow it down, hit Barkley in the block, have the Matrix or Dragic slash, and see what the defense gives you. Adams will clean up the boards and the team will stop you on defense.

Luckily, shooting guards in Phoenix have a healthy history. A couple of guys left on the board at shooting guard? Jeff Hornacek, Charlie Scott, and Jason Richardson. My Grade: B+

What the Stats Say: This lineup dominated the statistical grades, leading the way and setting the curve on 5 of the 6 categories. There is no denying that is would be hard to score on this team. And if you have Barkley go by “Chuck”, it’s the 5 Letter First Name team.

Overall Grade: A-

My Opinion: This is actually my favorite lineup. I think it gives you everything you need. It has flash and flare, shooting and defense, length and speed. Although, again, I’d put J Rich or Charlie Scott in there.

I feel that if Justin had D’Antoni, these players would perform best in his system. The speed of KJ, the shooting of Davis, the athleticism of Nance and Ayton...this lineup could be really scary. If they ran the seven seconds or less offensive, you couldn’t keep up. What is interesting is that, besides the bench player in Barbosa, none of these guys played in that era.

But Justin missed out on Mike, as Daniel took snatched him up early, and ended up with Monty. Knowing Monty, he’ll some how, some way get Elie Okobo on this team and playing crucial minutes.

Justin mentions it on the podcast: this team has had some off-the-court issues. Ayton and his suspension, Sweet D and KJ with their allegations. If they are all on the court at the same time, they would be so fun to watch. My Grade: A

What the Stats Say: It is a solid team all around. The team came in second in every category except blocks, where they tied for first. You lace up your sneakers against these guys, you’re getting challenged for sure. You’ll need 16 year-olds, coke, and diuretics to win.

Overall Grade: C+

My Opinion: Having the bounce back pick in a snake draft is always a difficult situation to be in. Paul had it when the end of the 2nd round/beginning of the third occurred, and that is where Flex lived during this draft. It’s tough because you can have a plan mapped out, and once the guy before you takes your guy, it throws it all off. You have to react quick.

I see what Flex was going for when he drafted this team. Scoring. And a lot of it. Connie Hawkins was a prolific scorer (and the only guy who I couldn’t find a good color picture of). Booker and Stoudemire together is a fantastic duo that I would love to see. The question here: who would wear jersey #1?

This team is constructed with members from two eras: the current Suns and the 7SOL Suns. with the Hawk playing power forward. It is hard to pinpoint what the identity of this team would be. With Cotton running the show, you’d expect an up tempo style of play. And this team would score. A lot. They would have no problem tickling that twine, especially with Eddie Johnson coming in off of the bench.

What hurts this this team is their rebounding. Amare carries the load; he is 16% of the squad but accounts for 28% of the boards. My Grade: B

What the Stats Say: This is the top offensive team that was drafted. By 7 points. But when compared to the other teams, the grades looking eerily similar to my first semester in college.

Who is Missing?

I am surprised that no one chose either of the coaches who took the team to the NBA Finals. The Phoenix Suns career leader in games (1,122), wins (579), playoff games (81) and playoff wins (37), John MacLeod, was neglected. I know that everyone is too young to remember him, myself included, but you’d think he’d beat out Monty Williams. As should Paul Westphal, who has the highest winning percentage (.685) of any coach in Suns history.

I mentioned Jason Richardson and Charlie Scott, both excellent choices for shooting guard. A.C. Green, the Iron Man, is ta solid Sixth Man option. Jeff Hornacek is another solid option. And how about Stephon Marbury? I’d prefer to have him come off the bench more than anyone not named Eddie Johnson.

But again, you can’t go wrong with any one of these teams. Great job guys.

What Do You Think?

So who do you think won the draft?

Vote on the Fanning the Flames Twitter poll:

And, if time has run out on the Twitter poll, vote here on Bright Side as well:


Which team had the best Suns all-time team?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    The Sunburns (Nash, Westphal, Majerle, Chambers, Gortat, Ceballos, Gentry)
    (5 votes)
  • 70%
    Suns Gunz (Kidd, Dragic, Marion, Barkley, Adams, Frye, D’Antoni)
    (61 votes)
  • 12%
    Sun(s) City (KJ, DJ, Davis, Nance, Ayton, Barbosa, Williams)
    (11 votes)
  • 10%
    Young Sunz (Rubio, Booker, Johnson, Hawkins, Stoudemire, EJ, Cotton)
    (9 votes)
86 votes total Vote Now

Until next time, this is John “Mel Kiper” Voita signing off.

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