Take yourself back to May 29, 2010. Kobe Bryant took the pass from Lamar Odom while up by five with under a minute to go. He would dribble a few times, and with Grant Hill all over him, he hit a 22 footer while fading away. Bryant then tapped Suns coach Alvin Gentry and would pretend he was an airplane down the court. The Lakers would win the Western Conference Finals over the Phoenix Suns in that decisive game, and that would be the last time Phoenix tasted success.
In the summer of 2012, Suns GM Lance Blanks had traded Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers, added Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson, claimed Luis Scola after he was amnestied, and were trying to prod Eric Gordon away from the Hornets with a max deal. They had just failed to make the postseason during the 2011-12 season, and it was clear that a rebuild was in order. Instead of blowing it up and trying to build through the draft, Blanks tried to patch holes with risky signings, and it wasn’t pretty.
Fast forward to the summer of 2013, and the Suns were going to rebuild–but this time from the bottom. They fired Alvin Gentry and Lance Blanks, and it was time that the new era Suns to officially arrive. The Suns hired Ryan McDonough from Boston (assistant GM) to be their new general manager, and they had 10 draft picks over the next three seasons–including six first rounders. McDonough hired Jeff Hornacek as the head coach, and he would start to make some moves right off the bat.
McDonough waived Michael Beasley, traded Jared Dudley to get Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers, he would then trade Luis Scola to the Pacers for Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green, and Marcin Gortat would be on the move to Washington. It was clear that the previous regime was not going to be in McDonough’s plan, and it was time to rebuild the right way. The Suns have four first round draft picks in the loaded 2014 draft, and it was time to blow it up and build through failure in order to reach success.
Someone forgot to tell the players that.
The Phoenix Suns currently sit at 19-11 on the season, and they look like a playoff team. Eric Bledsoe is an all-star, Miles Plumlee backed up his two impressive Summer Leagues with good play on the NBA court, and they are getting contributions from all over their roster. The way the Suns have executed this season is really impressive.
While most GM’s would have moved Goran Dragic as soon as they acquired Eric Bledsoe, McDonough waited. Knowing that Bledsoe is effective off the ball, he allowed them to play together, and those two have formed one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Jeff Hornacek came into the season saying that the Suns were going to get out and run, but almost all teams say that when the season begins. Well, the Suns currently have the eighth fastest offense in the league with over 98 possessions per game, and they are executing his plan beautifully.
The Phoenix Suns were supposed to be one of the teams what was going to lose in order to win, but that has been far from what has actually happened this season. They took a risk when they hired a 33 year old GM, but the Suns look brilliant now. Make no mistake, this season was all about building the future. They created “Ignite the Future” to be their slogan, and that was an indication of the organization’s objective.
McDonough continues to look like a genius. He has come out and said that they may be looking to move some of their picks for assets, and that may be the smartest move he could make. Most GMs would have a plan, and wouldn’t stray from it. McDonough seems to be flexible, and it adapting his plan. Teams can get stubborn or unwilling to move from their objective, but the Suns seem willing to ride success, and are doing it with a plan for the future. To try and improve your successful team seems to be the obvious choice, but sometimes the obvious choice is the hardest one to ride with.
The Phoenix Suns will have four first round draft picks, cap space, and are going to be in the driver’s seat to re-sign Eric Bledsoe. They are set up better than the majority of the league for the future, and they can thank Ryan McDonough for that. The Suns were all about igniting the future, and it has indeed been ignited. It’s just been a whole lot sooner than any of us could have imagined.