Suns

A Dose of Reality Hits Phoenix

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It’s already been a rough start to the season for the Phoenix Suns.

Outside of their encouraging win in their season opener against the Dallas Mavericks and yesterday’s nailbiter against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Suns are just 2-7 to start the year.

The early optimism is dissipating quickly– and the reality of this season being as futile as the past few lost seasons is setting in. Playoffs were always a pipe-dream, but a competitive season seemed within reach of this seemingly talented roster. They were expected to be a fun league pass team at the very least. All of that is under threat now, and some fans are already re-calibrating those expectations. With all that said, the most sobering news for the Suns fans might have come off the court:

Suns faithfuls will remember the selections of Dragan Bender (4th overall) and Marquese Chriss (8th overall) in the 2016 draft. That draft held a lot of hope for the Suns and it’s now time to declare that a bust. Suns did trade Chriss this summer, but neither pick has panned out to what they had originally hoped. They did well with T.J. Warren‘s pick in 2014 and struck gold with Devin Booker in 2015. Backing those up with the even higher picks they had in 2016 would have set the rebuild program on a much faster track. This is where the Suns missed big. One could argue that the 2016 draft alone justifies the firing of GM Ryan McDonough, though the timing of the firing was definitely odd.

To be fair to the Suns and McDonough, the 2016 draft wasn’t a deep draft after the top two guys and the Suns had the 4th pick. But, they did, however, pick Bender over Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray. Chriss over Pascal Siakam and Dejounte Murray. Hindsight is 20-20, and it’s easy to second guess the picks 2.5 years later. However, the results are for everybody to see and analyze. The Suns are still in the early stages of what appears to be a never-ending rebuild. The early result of that 2016 draft is a major reason for the situation they are in.

Granted, losing Devin Booker to injury makes it real tough for this young team to be competitive. Very few teams can grow let alone survive losing their top offensive option. Not every team is as loaded as the Warriors or as deep as the Celtics. But this Suns team currently looks as far away from contention as ever, and that’s quite discouraging to say the least.

All is not lost though. Deandre Ayton looks nothing like Bender or Chriss and that’s a really good thing. He sure looks like a deserving top pick, though his defense has to improve a lot. Mikal Bridges has also been looking great so far:

There is definitely hope in the valley of Suns. There is a good NBA core blossoming somewhere on this roster. It just won’t include Dragan Bender, setting the rebuilding clock back further. Suns fans are hoping better late than never.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the Phoenix Suns and writing. He has been a long-time Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90's. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns writer for TLSM. His favorite Sun is Steve Nash. Twitter: @15cent

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