Last year at this time, the Suns were a lost franchise, heading in the wrong direction with no master plan in sight. In October, the Suns at least showed signs of a new dawn under the leadership and new era of McDonough and Hornacek. Yet all predictions for this season’s success were in line with the failures of the 2012-2013 season.
Then came November, and some surprising victories along with impressive team play. Then came December, when the wheels were supposed to come off and the 2014 lottery pick was to become cemented. Despite that, the winning ways continued. Then came January, with impressive home and road wins against the likes of the Pacers, who virtually no one else could beat. As we now have reached February and approach the All-Star Break, the Suns are part of everyone’s chat around the league, and no one thinks that their success is a fluke.
While the 2013-2014 season is not over and the Suns’ playoff position is anything but guaranteed, it is interesting to note the state of the franchise if the season ended today.
- In round one of the Western Conference playoffs, the Suns would be matched against the Portland Trail Blazers, a team they defeated twice against only one road loss by one point.
- Jeff Hornacek would be the runaway winner of NBA Coach of the Year.
- Ryan McDonough would be the runaway winner of NBA Executive of the Year.
- Miles Plumlee would be a candidate for Most Improved Player.
- Alex Len is finally healthy and is showing some signs of being a worthy long-term protector of the paint.
- Channing Frye would be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, following his life threatening heart condition issues that surfaced suddenly at the start of the 2012-13 season, and his consistent performance night in and night out this season.
- Goran Dragic would not win but would certainly be in the conversation for the league’s Most Valuable Player.
- The Suns would retain the Indiana Pacers’ 2014 late first round draft pick.
- The Suns would retain the Washington Wizards’ 2014 mid first round draft pick.
- The Suns would retain the Minnesota Timberwolves 2014 mid first round draft pick if the T-Wolves can just pass Denver and Memphis in the current standings, even if the T-Wolves do not make the playoffs.
- The Suns would retain their own 2014 mid to late first round draft pick.
- The Suns have two potential first round draft picks in the 2015 draft, including a pick from the now-lowly Lakers.
- The Suns have the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor, a significant portion of which is being paid by insurance, which will free up cap space for the summer 2014 free agency battles.
- The Morris twins, averaging one full game of playing time between them, would be putting up combined all-star caliber numbers in scoring (combined 22.6 per game) and rebounding (combined 7.1 per game)
- Journeyman Gerald Green may have found a home after playing for seven teams over the course of seven NBA seasons to go along with playing on two other continents during two other seasons. Since January 1st, he is averaging almost 16 points per game and is becoming a human highlight reel.
- A guy named “Ish” is becoming a fan favorite for his energy and effort.
- The majority of the team’s success would have been accomplished without the participation of potentially the best player on its roster, Eric Bledsoe.
- The Suns have the eighth best record in the NBA, ahead of superior pre-season rosters of teams like the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks.
What a difference a year makes!