Ranking the Phoenix Suns' 5 Best Moves from the NBA Offseason
From the hiring Ryan McDonough as their new general manager, to the acquisition of point guard Eric Bledsoe, all of their offseason moves made by the Phoenix Suns have been done with their long-term future in mind.
While these moves didn't grab many headlines, it was for good reason. After a misguided attempt at reloading in the 2012 offseason, the Suns finally hit the reset button this offseason.
With Phoenix ushering out remnants of the old regime, like general manager Lance Blank, the Suns have laid the groundwork for a full-fledged rebuild. A la Drake, Phoenix has officially “Started From the Bottom.”
With that said, I will rank Phoenix’s offseason moves based on their long-term impact.
Will the aforementioned McDonough or Bledsoe garner the top spot? Or, will 2013 draftees Alex Len and Archie Goodwin rise to the top?
Let’s find out. Here are the Suns’ five best offseason moves.
Honorable Mention: Trading Luis Scola and Hiring Jeff Hornacek
The hiring of Jeff Hornacek won’t necessarily get fans excited, but he is an upgrade over the novice Lindsey Hunter he is replacing.
Furthermore, Hornacek is fully committed to developing young players like Kendall Marshall.
Last season, Hornacek’s predecessors (Hunter and Alvin Gentry) went against conventional wisdom and didn't usher in a youth movement during the lost season.
With the coaching staff and front office now on the same page, Phoenix can begin its long climb back to respectability by developing its young talent.
Scola was productive last season with averages of 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. However, at 33, Scola isn't in the Suns' future plans.
In moving Scola, playing time has now opened up for the Morris twins and an influx of youth is brought Phoenix's way.
While Plumlee and Green can be serviceable players for Phoenix, the key to this trade was the first-round pick in the much-hyped 2014 NBA Draft. Regardless of where this pick falls, it'll hold a lot of value.
These moves are by no means franchise altering, but for a team bereft of young talent like Phoenix, they certainly bolster the Suns’ long-term outlook going forward.
5. Not Trading Marcin Gortat
At age 29, and with Len in the fold, Marcin Gortat won’t play a prominent role on the next contending Suns’ team. Whatever future value the Suns get out of Gortat will ultimately come from a trade.
With Phoenix going to a youth movement, it would've been easy for the Suns to ship out Gortat for draft considerations like they did Scola.
Coming off a season in which his value was shot because of injury, such a trade would've been trading pennies on the dollar.
In keeping Gortat, Phoenix can slowly develop Len and give him a veteran to learn from.
Furthermore, with a strong first-half, Phoenix could parlay Gortat into a prime pick in the 2014 NBA Draft at the trade deadline.
They also could trade his expiring contract to a team gearing up for 2014's free agent class and get a young player in return.
Either way, by delaying Gortat's inevitable trade, Phoenix will net a player who fits their long-term plans.
With Gortat having a higher value than Scola, it's easy to slot him at the No. 5 spot. But with many teams probably hesitant to deal a lottery pick in exchange for him, he can't rank any higher.
4. Drafting Alex Len
With the Suns investing the No. 5 overall pick in June’s draft on the 7-footer from Maryland, Len is going to have sizable expectations on his broad shoulders for the foreseeable future.
In hindsight, coming off of ankle surgery, you have to wonder why Phoenix passed up on players like Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore in favor of Len.
Especially considering that ESPN.com’s Chad Ford had both Noel and McLemore rated higher than Len, with Noel being the draft’s top prospect.
Still, Len has the potential to be a building block for the Suns, as somewhat of a poor man’s Roy Hibbert.
But after seeing the effects lower leg injuries have had on fellow big men like Greg Oden and Yao Ming, I’m not as optimistic that Len will reach that potential.
Couple that with his athletic limitations, and I’d have to say that Len will rank behind Archie Goodwin in the 2013 draft class when it’s all said and done.
3. Trading for Archie Goodwin
In a draft-night trade with the Golden State Warriors, the Suns got a player in Archie Goodwin with immense upside.
While extremely raw, it wouldn't be shocking to see Goodwin rank as one of the top players in his draft class years from now.
If that doesn't speak to Goodwin's talent then perhaps you should scroll the remainder of his resume.
A former McDonalds All-American and former player at the NBA's unofficial feeder school (Kentucky), Goodwin averaged 14.1 points per game in his lone college season.
Refinement is the lone thing this athletic marvel needs. In some respects, Goodwin reminds me of a player drafted 27 spots ahead of him, Victor Oladipo.
As ESPN.com's scouting report notes, Oladipo was a raw prospect who couldn't shoot and relied on his athleticism coming out of high school.
Sound like Goodwin to you?
Three years at Indiana and Oladipo added a jump shot and ball handling skills en route to going No. 2 overall.
Since the Suns are nowhere near contention, they can afford to wait for a similar development to happen with the 18-year-old Goodwin.
With Goodwin possessing a considerable edge in upside over fellow 2013 draftee Len, Goodwin had to get the nod at the No. 3 spot.
Still, with Goodwin uncertain to reach his peak, his acquisition doesn't trump the addition of his future backcourt mate Bledsoe.
2. Hiring Ryan McDonough
Although I'm the one creating this list, without McDonough, there aren't many good moves to document.
One look at Phoenix's dreadful 2012 offseason and that much is clear.
Aside form acquiring Scola and Goran Dragic, what good moves did the Suns have?
Drafting Marshall? No, he was clearly a reach in the draft and is now destined to sit behind Dragic and Bledsoe going forward.
Signing Michael Beasley? Nope, Beasley was once again a black hole on offense and a sieve on defense.
Heck, the Suns even botched the trade of franchise player Steve Nash. Rather than trade Nash at the trade deadline with his stock at its highest, they kept him and got pennies on the dollar in a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While McDonough technically will have no impact on the outcome of games, his work to date with Phoenix deserves recognition.
The Suns had zero potential All-Stars on this team prior to his arrival. Now, they have three in Bledsoe, Goodwin and Len.
With the bounty of draft picks Phoenix has coming over the years, such success in mining potential stars bodes well for future drafts.
In truth, McDonough only loses out on the top spot because of the league he works in. With the NBA being the ultimate players' league, I couldn't give him the nod over Bledsoe.
McDonough could orchestrate a team with top-shelf talent, but it'll always fall on the players' shoulders to collect on such talent. And when they do, all the praise will be bestowed upon them.
Nonetheless, Phoenix clearly has the right man at the helm to lead them back into contention, and a man worthy of the No. 2 spot.
1. Trading for Eric Bledsoe
After a one-year hiatus, the Suns have a face of the franchise again. His name is Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe immediately becomes the Suns' centerpiece to build around.
Furthermore, his addition brings a change of culture to the Phoenix organization.
For years Phoenix was known as an offense first, second and third team. With their last franchise player, Nash, the Suns were consistently one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.
With the defensive menace Bledsoe at the helm, Phoenix can go about constructing a winner the right way, around defense.
If the team's best player makes defense a priority, then his teammates have no choice but to follow suit.
What's most intriguing about Bledsoe is the untapped potential he still possesses. Whether in college with John Wall or in Los Angeles with Chris Paul, Bledsoe has never been handed the keys to an offense.
Two games later against the Orlando Magic he posted 27 points.
All this from a player whose current offensive repertoire is heavily reliant on drives to the basket.
Imagine how good he'll be when he adds a jump shot and fully learns how to run the point.
Right now, Bledsoe is the best player on the Suns. In the future, when Phoenix is contending again, he could be one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
All the reason to label his acquisition as the best move of the Suns' offseason.
What do you think about the rankings? Sound off in the comments below!