Phoenix Suns: Ranking the Top 5 Suns of the '70s
Since the team's inception in 1968, the Phoenix Suns have been one of the most successful franchises in NBA history. Though the team has never won a championship, the Suns have made nine western conference finals, two finals appearances and are fourth best all-time in franchise winning percentage.
The Suns have also had multiple all-stars and Hall of Famers play in the desert, and this list is the start of a series that will honor the very greatest of players to wear a Suns uniform in each decade.
Note: Because the team played just two seasons in the 60s, all members of the 1968-1969 and 1969-1970 Phoenix Suns are candidates for this list.
Honorable Mention: Gail Goodrich
Though Goodrich only spent two seasons with the Suns, the Hall of Famer was a fan favorite and a great player for the franchise.
Goodrich originally came to Phoenix through the expansion draft and became the star point guard of the franchise. Despite the fact that the Suns finished just 16-66 in their inaugural season, Goodrich was a star, posting averages of 23.8 points and 6.4 assists a game in a breakout season. He lead the Suns in scoring and was also selected to the 1969 NBA All-Star Game.
In the following season, Goodrich repeated the same success, averaging 20 points and 7.5 assists a game to lead the Suns to a much improved 39-43 record. However, the following season Goodrich was traded back to the Lakers, where he remained for much of his career.
Though his time in Phoenix was short, Goodrich is a name that can't be forgotten when listing all-time franchise greats.
5. Charlie Scott
6'5" guard/forward Charlie Scott played two seasons in the ABA before joining the Suns. His 34.6 points per game for the Virginia Squires in the 1971-1972 season is an ABA record. And even in the NBA, Scott continued to dominate the game.
Scott was a member of the Suns for three full seasons and represented the team in the NBA All-Star Game for all three of those years. He averaged 25.3 points and 6.1 assists for the team in his first NBA season and proved to be a prolific scorer.
After spending time with the Suns, Scott was eventually traded to the Boston Celtics for a 24-year-old prospect by the name of Paul Westphal. Though Scott's numbers declined in Boston and he retired at the young age of 31, he was a force in the league for several seasons and is one of the better players to ever put on a Suns uniform.
4. Connie Hawkins
"The Hawk" made the transition from the ABA to the NBA in 1969 and spent three seasons with the Suns. Though his stay in the desert was relatively short, all three seasons were all-star years for the Hall of Famer, and they were also the best NBA seasons of his career.
In his first and also greatest season in the NBA, Hawkins put up 24.6 points and 10.4 rebounds to go along with 4.8 assists. His last game of the season was his greatest, in which he put up a ridiculous 44 points, 20 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks and 5 steals.
He was a complete monster on both ends of the court and one of the premier players in the league at the time.
Hawkins might have only spent a few years with Phoenix, but he has gone down as one of the team's all-time legends. He's eighth in franchise history in points per game and is ninth in rebounds per game. Hawkins was also able to take the new franchise and lead them to a winning record for two straight seasons. He made a huge impact on the team and cannot be left off a list like this.
3. Dick Van Arsdale
6'5" Guard Dick Van Arsdale is known as the "Original Sun" for a reason. Van Arsdale may not have been a superstar, but he was a huge contributor to the Suns in the 70s.
After playing three seasons for the Knicks, Van Arsdale had a breakout year with Phoenix in the team's inaugural season, averaging 21 points and 6.9 rebounds. Though the team's first couple seasons were unsuccessful, All-Stars Gail Goodrich and Van Arsdale at least made the team interesting. In total he spent nine seasons with Phoenix and had the best years of his career in the desert. He made three consecutive All-Star appearances from 1969-1971.
Van Arsdale wasn't a Hall of Fame caliber player, but he was a fan favorite and committed to the team for the majority of his career. He is 5th all-time for the franchise in scoring and 3rd in minutes played, and he even became a coach for Phoenix for part of the 1986-1987 season. There is no question that he is one of the team's all-time greats.
2. Paul Westphal
After Charlie Scott was traded, the Suns acquired Paul Westphal, who turned out to be one of the greatest Suns of all time. Westphal played in Phoenix from 1975-1980 during the prime of his career, and his list of achievements as a Sun is impressive to say the least.
Westphal was selected to the All-Star Game in four consecutive seasons with the team, and he was also selected to the All-NBA first team in 1977,1979 and 1980. Westphal was also able to help the Suns reach their first finals appearance in 1976 despite eventually losing the series 4-2 to the Celtics.
Through his six career seasons with the team, Westphal averaged 20.6 points per game and is the team's 8th all-time leading scorer. He also came back and was the head coach of the Suns from 1992-1996, leading a team that included Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley to to the 1993 NBA Finals. Westphal left a legacy in Phoenix, both as a player and a coach. His number has been retired by the team and his name is one that will always come up when listing the franchise's all-time greats.
1. Alvan Adams
Look up the franchise leaders for nearly every statistic, and this man's name will come up.
Alvan Adams spent his entire 13 year career in Phoenix, and though he was never a star, he is the best center in franchise history and is also arguably in the top five among all players to ever wear a Suns uniform. In his rookie season, Adams made his only career all-star appearance and also won the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 19 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks a game.
Along with Paul Westphal, the rookie Adams also helped lead the Suns to the 1976 finals against the Boston Celtics. For that series, Adams averaged 23 points and 10.2 rebounds a game and also played in a memorable Game 5 in which the Celtics won 128-126 in triple overtime.
Adams retired in 1988, and for the franchise he is 2nd all time in points scored, 1st in rebounds, 1st in minutes played, 1st in blocks, 4th in steals and even 3rd in assists. His number was retired by the team, and although more than half of his career was actually played in the 80s, Adams is still the best Phoenix Sun from the 1970s.
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