Do the Phoenix Suns have a legitimate chance to be one of eight teams representing the Western Conference when the NBA Playoffs start on April 19, 2014? My gut says no.
But for the first time since Steve Nash and A’mare Stoudemire led the Suns deep in the playoffs—losing out in the 2010 Conference Finals to the eventual champion L.A. Lakers—an optimistic vision for the future truly exists. New general manager Ryan McDonough appears to be getting comfortable in his position, executing a blockbuster summer deal to land Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler.
Now, an important part of the grand blueprint is one more below-average season to improve draft odds come 2014. Patience will be paramount for the Suns moving forward, but McDonough has laid the ground work for a team that should be competitive in shortly more than a calendar year.
Using the word “tank” does not accurately describe how much the Suns can accomplish under new coach Jeff Hornacek. Phoenix's first-rate training staff will bolster the Suns' effort to develop home-grown talent, while fresh faces like Bledsoe will provide a spark.
Coming your way are five Suns players whose efforts will a) set a professional tone to aid in the rebuild and b) provide the fans with a glimpse of what’s to come.