The 2023-24 Phoenix Suns season has the potential to be one for the ages. There is a buzz about the Valley and it’s the only topic that is hotter than the consecutive days over 110°. What are we at now? 27? I lost count.
It’s July in Arizona, so it’s what us locals do. We gripe and complain about the heat, knowing that we live here because of what occurs from October to May, not May to October. You luckySuns fans who aren’t here right now, I’ll give you a summation of the weather report. It’s not as hot as it was in the Suns’ free agency.
Last week we put together a poll for four distinct eras in Suns basketball as it relates to the anticipation that occurred prior to the beginning of the season. The ‘Dave King was Around’ era, the Barkley era, the Seven Seconds or Less era, and the current Bueker era each provided multiple seasons for you to vote on. The goal? To understand what the most anticipated season in Phoenix Suns history is through the eyes of those who love, care, and watch Suns basketball like the fanatics you all are.
The results are in and we are now down to our final four seasons. The first round didn’t see many close calls. Each era had a distinct winner. But now we pit them against each other to see which season reigns supreme.
A reminder of each winner and the reasoning behind why is was so anticipated is provided below. Take the time and read, for you may not have lived through all eras, but you can have a better understanding what was at stake.
Won with 37% of the vote over 1968-69 (18%), 1979-80 (25%), and 1984-85 (20%)
1976 was a magical season that brought fervor to the Valley unlike any other in the franchise’s history. After finishing the season with a mundane 42-40 record, they surprised the #2 seeded Seattle SuperSonics by winning in six games. They followed it up by downing the favorited #1 seeded Golden State Warriors in a hard-fought seven game Western Conference Finals.
Expectations were high entering the 1976-77 season as the team had gained national notoriety for their efforts the previous season. “These are the Suns, the stuff of which Hans Christian Andersen and Hollywood scripts are made,” Barry McDermott wrote in Sport Illustrated about the team.
Entering 1976-77, Suns’ guard Pat Riley had left in free agency, the team had acquired Dick Van Arsdale’s twin brother Tom via trade with the Boston Braves, and drafted point guard Ron Lee out of the University of Oregon with their 10th pick in the NBA Draft.
Could they make a run back to the NBA Finals? Phoenix anxiously sweated away in the summer of ‘76 wondering the answer to this question.
Won with 61% of the vote over 1990-91 (2%), 1993-94 (27%), and 1994-95 (10%)
After four seasons winning over 50+ games, the Suns were in a predicament. They simply could not get over the hump and into the NBA Finals. The 1991-92 season, in which Phoenix entered the playoffs as the #4 seed after posting a 53-29 record, ended in disappointment. Once again, they fell short of their goal, this time doing so in the Second Round at the hands of the Blazers.
Disappointment was becoming a theme of the early-90’s Suns and could’ve been the title of their rap album, if they opted to put one out. That’s what teams were doing back then.
In response, the Suns flipped the franchise on its head. They moved into a new arena, changed their uniform sets, and traded for a six time All-Star in his prime, Sir Charles Barkley. Paul Westphal was in as the new head coach, they signed free agent Danny Ainge, and drafted Oliver Miller and Richard Dumas.
The setting was set for a historic season, and the anticipation began.
Won with 47% of the vote over 2005-06 (37%) and 2007-08 (16%)
54 wins in the regular the previous season showed that head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system was a place for players to thrive in. Amare Stoudemire only played 3 games as his injured knee prevented the All-Star from playing, but behind an MVP season from Steve Nash, the team ended with the #2 seed in the West. But the team lost in the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive season.
The team made some transactions that didn’t affect the starting five, bringing in players like Jalen Rose, Marcus Banks, Jumaine Jones, Sean Marks, and Eric Piatowski. Brian Grant, Eddie House, and mid-season acquisition Tim Thomas were out.
The core remained the same, however, and the chemistry that they displayed the previous year, one that saw them once again lead the league in points and offensive rating, had the organization and fan base ready for a deep run in the postseason. And perhaps bring Larry to Phoenix.
Won with 72% of the vote over 2021-22 (19%) and 2022-23 (8%)
A new owner. A new mindset. A new roster.
The previous season was one of change. The core of the 2021 NBA Finals team was shredded like a julienne salad, as Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder were sent to the Brooklyn Nets for the one and only Kevin Durant. While the move brought one the greatest talents in the history of the NBA to Phoenix, it did not allow the team enough time to truly gel. They lost once again in the Second Round, this time to the eventual champion Denver Nuggets.
The changes came fast and furious. Head coach Monty Williams was out. Chris Paul joined a long list of players who would not return. Torrey Craig, Jock Landale, Cameron Payne, Bismack Biyombo, Terrence Ross, T.J. Warren, Landry Shamet, and Darius Bazley were all out. Bradley Beal, Eric Gordon, Drew Eubanks, Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Goodwin, Chimezie Metu, Bol Bol, and draft pick Toumani Camara were all added.
It’s been one the biggest roster shake ups in Suns’ history, and with the addition of Bradley Beal, has created one of the most offensively potent lineups in the Valley. At least, on paper.
And now, we choose again.
You may not have lived through all eras, but you’re living through the voting process that is going on right now!
The Final Four: Which season had the most preseason excitement?
This poll is closed