A long-term rebuilding project finally appears to be on the upswing, and the Suns are slowly but surely charting a course toward competency.
For the last eight years, the Suns have somehow resisted the natural ebbs and flows of the NBA. Save for one miracle 48-win season, they’ve finished below .500 every year since 2010 — the last real push of the Steve Nash era — and failed to crack 25 wins the last three years. Most franchises would, at some point, be lifted up by the NBA tides, if only briefly, before falling again; Phoenix has only pushed farther down.
Salvation may not be far away, relatively speaking. A long-term rebuilding project finally appears to be on the upswing after years of losing and other on-court catastrophes. Curious timing notwithstanding, the decision to part ways with GM Ryan McDonough was ultimately the right one, and with new coach Igor Kokoškov on board, Phoenix is slowly but surely charting a course toward competency. More intriguing than changes in management, however, is the roster itself. Quietly, the Suns have assembled an appealing young core with skill, athleticism, and versatility at nearly every position. Projecting growth for this group isn’t hard, and the team has finally mixed the right amount of veterans with its youth – presumably in an earnest attempt to win basketball games.
For the first time in years, Phoenix has real questions to address beyond the simple matter of whether it can fill out the roster with NBA-level players. Kokoškov has actual depth at his disposal rather than the scrap-heap pickups with which Earl Watson and Jay Triano had to work. The Suns improved in meaningful ways this offseason, and while making the playoffs should still be considered out of the realm of possibility, an increase in wins and competent play should both be expected.
Here are the names that should factor prominently into that effort.