The Steve Nash era Phoenix Suns burst onto scene in 2004 going from 29 to 62 wins and sporting a dynamic uptempo style of play that had fans like me watching their games even when it was a blowout. It’s early, but it seems that this season could mark the end of that run and it’s been a gradual decline that may turn into a freefall.
Last season the Suns declined from 54 wins to 40. This season they’ve won only one of their four games, but there are ominous signs. Their offense is out of sync. Even if they turn it around, they have done little to fortify last season’s 40 win ballclub, which begs the question: what if during the early years of the Nash era, Phoenix had understood the draft.
They did understand it for a while. From 1996 to 2002, the Suns scouting department drafted magnificently, netting three all stars, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Nash during that time. Then came a curious five year period where they were allergic to keeping draft picks. They drafted and immediately traded the following picks, forward Luol Deng, guard Rajon Rondo, swingman Rudy Fernandez, and center Marcin Gortat (they reacquired Gortat last winter in a trade). Imagine if they had kept those players, or imagine if they’d kept them long enough for the players to prove their mettle and have trade value. Instead the Suns kept dumping draft picks and instead used their budget on dubious free agent signings like Josh Childress and Marcus Banks.