The Phoenix Suns season can be looked at as a combination of disappointment and hope. The team had to deal with a slew of injuries that seriously hindered their development and performance in 2015-2016. First, the season began rocky after Markieff Morris, upset over the trade of his brother Marcus to Detroit, made a vow to never play for the Suns again. Instead, he did return to play, but it was not at all true to his form until the Suns shipped him off to Washington for a first round pick.
As far as injuries are concerned the Suns biggest losses came from losing Eric Bledsoe for the year after suffering a torn meniscus on December 26th. Beyond him, only four Suns missed fewer than 10 games this year (Mirza Teletovic, Alex Len, P. J. Tucker and Devin Booker). It is hard to build success, especially on a young team like the Suns, when guys cannot remain on the floor. Their losing record when many projected Phoenix to be a playoff team at the start of the year cost Coach Jeff Hornacek his job on February 1st. Eric Watson was named his interim replacement and has since agreed to a three year deal with the team.
Right now, it is about development and re-establishing a winning culture for the desert squad. The 36-year-old Watson, who played 13 seasons in the NBA, is the youngest head coach in the league. The Suns organization believe this, coupled with his extensive playing experience, will help him relate to this young team while trying to grow with the squad and develop players to their full potential. Phoenix’s roster certainly has bright spots who are more than capable of lighting up the league.
Young guns steal the show
Rookie Devin Booker had a phenomenal year averaging 13.8 points and taking a bulk of the backcourt responsibilities after Eric Bledsoe went down early in the season. The 13th pick by Phoenix in last year’s draft is proving to be all he was billed to be. Booker has an NBA handle and can shoot from anywhere on the court. The fans in Phoenix must be excited to watch this young backcourt grow together and establish themselves as rocks in the league for years to come.
Bledsoe is 26, Brandon Knight is 24, and Booker is only 19. The Suns have a plethora of young guard talent. Another bright spot for the desert came from a surprising source. Jon Leuer, the 6ft 10in power forward from Wisconsin had a solid year of his own despite only playing 18.7 minutes last year. Leuer put up a respectable 8.7 pts and 5.6 rebounds and shot 48% from the field. The Suns pair their youth well with strong veterans in Teletovic, Tyson Chandler and P. J. Tucker, giving their roster a solid support system to breed success.
Looking ahead to the NBA Draft on June 23, 2016 the Suns will likely be looking to draft someone to add to their frontcourt. Sitting at the 4th pick, the Suns have an opportunity to draft a very talented player. They could be eyeing skilled forwards like Cal’s Jaylen Brown, or the Croatian big man Dragan Bender is believed to be a player that could be a force in the NBA in a few years.
Do not be surprised also, with this guard heavy lottery, to see the Suns trading out of the 4th spot. Teams like the 76ers, who are looking to trade one of their preeminent big men, be it Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, the Sixers are in need of a guard, and the Suns would improve greatly by acquiring a player of Okafor’s offensive caliber. It is tough to measure the Suns’ future in the 2016/17 season, but with a talented young roster, high draft pick, and young coach, the future in Phoenix has a lot to be excited about. Now the Suns must try and turn all of their potential into regular season success.
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