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Ranking Eric Bledsoe Among Best Phoenix Suns Acquisitions Ever

Sam CooperCorrespondent IIIDecember 24, 2016

Ranking Eric Bledsoe Among Best Phoenix Suns Acquisitions Ever

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Despite a right knee injury that will keep him out most of the season, Eric Bledsoe can be considered a major steal.

    In 24 games for the Suns, he posted averages of 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. And at only 24 years old, Bledsoe could make multiple All-Star appearances in his bright future.

    What makes the trade acquisition even more impressive is that the Suns had to forfeit nothing other than Jared Dudley and a couple of second-round picks. 

    Even so, Bledsoe has still played just a couple of dozen games in his first season with Phoenix. There were certainly trade acquisitions in the past who made more of an impact. 

    These rankings are based not only on the impact that a player had in Phoenix, but also on the package that the Suns had to give up in return. 

10. Eddie Johnson

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    These days, Eddie Johnson is known more for his work as a Suns color commentator than he is as a former player. 

    But nearly 25 years ago, Johnson was one of the elite sixth men in the game. 

    In 1987, the 27-year-old Johnson was traded to Phoenix by the Sacramento Kings for Ed Pinckney and a second-round pick. Pinckney had just had an impressive sophomore season campaign in which he put up 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. However, that season was arguably his peak year, as he never achieved that level of production again.

    Johnson, meanwhile, spent three full seasons in the desert. He received the sixth man of the year award in 1988-89 after averaging 21.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in almost 30 minutes per game off the bench. 

    Above all else, Johnson was a phenomenal scorer. He didn't have many fantastic secondary traits or stay with the Suns for an exceptionally long period of time, but he provided ample scoring for Phoenix and was acquired at a low price. That is what makes him a top acquisition. 

9. Leandro Barbosa

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    As they often do, the San Antonio Spurs decided to select a foreign player with their pick in the 2003 NBA draft. 

    However, rather than keeping Leandro Barbosa, drafted 28th overall, they opted to trade the Brazilian prospect to Phoenix for a 2005 first-round pick. 

    Barbosa was merely another prospect added to the mix of such a young roster. The Suns already featured prospects such as Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Zarko Cabarkapa and Casey Jacobsen. Barbosa was not expected to have an immediate impact.

    But for the next seven seasons, "LB" became a key piece of the Suns franchise. In 2006-07, the Brazilian Blur won the sixth man of the year award after putting up 18.1 points and 4.0 assists per game.

    This season, he is back again for a second stint. And although he may be several years older, Barbosa still possesses some of the same old speed, even after recovering from a torn ACL.

    Barbosa may not be as talented as Eddie Johnson was, but he has been in Phoenix for a total of eight years now. The likelihood that that 2005 first-round pick would be used on a player as valuable and likable is quite low.

8. Eric Bledsoe

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    This is where I'm placing Bledsoe, but even this ranking is optimistic. Twenty-four games is not enough to determine a player more valuable than Barbosa or Johnson, who both gave the Suns several seasons of fine production. 

    However, I'm assuming that GM Ryan McDonough plans to keep Bledsoe for several more seasons at least. And if Bledsoe can recover from this knee injury and then take caution going forward, he has the potential to be a multiple-time All-Star in his days in the desert. 

    Jared Dudley, who was traded to the Clippers to complete the deal, will undoubtedly be missed. He was a fan favorite in Phoenix himself for five seasons.

    But Dudley was always more of a role player than a star, and that is why Bledsoe is such a steal. The Suns knew that it was time to rid the roster of veterans and start afresh with a team of young prospects. 

7. Paul Westphal

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    Paul Westphal is one of the greatest Suns in franchise history. He spent six seasons with Phoenix and made All-Star appearances in four of those. Overall, the shooting guard put up 20.6 points and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 52 percent from the field in his time with the Suns.

    He is currently eighth all-time in Suns history in points, seventh in assists and sixth in steals. 

    He also led the franchise to its first Finals appearance in 1976 against the Boston Celtics

    So why is he only seventh on this list of greatest trade acquisitions?

    While Westphal was a fantastic player, the Suns had to trade Charlie Scott to the Celtics in order to acquire him.

    In his three All-Star seasons with Phoenix, Scott posted averages of 25.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. 

    So while Westphal accomplished so much for the franchise, he can't be considered a steal. 

6. Goran Dragic

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Perhaps there is a common theme throughout this list. This is the second time the Suns have benefited from acquiring a foreign player that the Spurs drafted. 

    Originally, Dragic, the No. 45 overall pick, was traded to the Suns for Malik Hairston, cash and a 2009 second-rounder. 

    That doesn't sound like a great trade, does it? 

    However, Dragic has become the face of the franchise. Years from now, when fans reflect upon the Suns teams of the 2010s, Dragic's name may be the first to come to mind. 

    And for good reason. Though his first stint in Phoenix as a backup to Steve Nash wasn't so spectacular, Dragic is currently having an All-Star-caliber season. He's averaging 20.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 39 percent from downtown. 

    It's true, the Suns acquired Dragic the second time through free agency, not via trade. But it's unlikely that he would have ever signed with Phoenix in the first place had he not experienced a first stint there. 

5. Paul Silas

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    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    Paul Silas only spent three seasons with Phoenix but gave absurd production. In those three years, he averaged 14.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. He also made one All-Star teamand  two All-Defensive teams and had an extraordinary 1971-72 season, posting averages of 17.5 points and 11.9 rebounds.

    Silas still leads the franchise in rebounds per game, ahead of Charles Barkley and Shawn Marion.

    How did the Suns originally acquire Silas? They traded Gary Gregor, a 6'7" tweener, to the Atlanta Hawks.

    But Gregor only spent six seasons in the NBA, and his rookie year with Phoenix (11.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game) was his most productive. After that year, he regressed until he transitioned to the ABA and then finally retired at the age of 28. 

4. Jason Kidd

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Jason Kidd's time spent with the Suns is easy to forget, as he is more known for his tenure with the New Jersey Nets and also never led the Suns deep into the playoffs. Additionally, it's not difficult to be overshadowed by other great point guards such as Steve Nash and Kevin Johnson. 

    But Kidd's three All-Star, three All-NBA first team and three All-Defensive first team appearances are nothing short of extraordinary. In his time with the Suns, he averaged 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. It's no secret that he is one of the more versatile players in NBA history.

    Kidd was traded to the Suns along with Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer for Sam Cassell, Michael Finley and A.C. Green. Finley and Cassell would be future All-Stars, and Green was still a productive player even in his old age. 

    Overall, despite Kidd's great production, he wasn't the greatest trade acquisition steal. 

3. Truck Robinson

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    By the time Truck Robinson arrived in Phoenix, his best days were behind him. At the age of 26, for example, he put up 22.7 points and 15.7 rebounds per game for the New Orleans Jazz.

    And although Robinson, 27 when he joined the Suns, was not quite as incredible, he was still a superb player. 

    At just 6'7", Robinson was a bit like Suns legend Charles Barkley. That is, despite his size, his strength allowed him to dominate big men on the glass. 

    In more than three years with the Suns, he averaged 18.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He also made an All-Star team during the 1980-81 season. 

    The Suns acquired Robinson for Marty Barnes, Ron Lee and two first-round picks. Barnes and Lee were both bench players, and neither eventual first-round selection played more than three seasons in the NBA. 

    If there's a downside to Robinson, it has to be his subpar postseason play. He played in 32 postseason games over four seasons with the Suns, but he averaged only 10.7 points and 8.4 rebounds over that span. 

2. Kevin Johnson

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    Andy Hayt/Getty Images

    Kevin Johnson was traded to the desert during the 1987-88 season, and that's exactly where he stayed until he finally retired (for the second time) in 2000.

    In 12 seasons with the Suns, Johnson averaged 18.7 points, 9.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He went from leading the team to WCF and Finals appearances as a superstar to mentoring prospects such as Jason Kidd and Steve Nash toward the end of his career. 

    Unfortunately, injuries held back what could have potentially been the greatest career in Suns' history. Johnson's first retirement came when he was only 31. 

    Even so, he is considered one of the greatest Suns of all time. And the trade that Phoenix made with the Cleveland Cavaliers to get him is extremely impressive. 

    The Suns traded All-Star power forward Larry Nance, Mike Sanders and a first-round pick to the Cavs for Johnson, Tyrone Corbin, Mark West, one first-round pick and two second-round picks. 

    Center Mark West would proceed to spend eight seasons with the Suns, both as a starter and as a backup down low. 

    And that first-round pick acquired from the Cavs was used to select Dan Majerle, who would make three All-Star appearances with the Suns in seven seasons. 

1. Charles Barkley

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    It makes sense that Barkley, who is arguably the greatest player in Suns history, tops this list. 

    Barkley was an unselfish, hard-working and physically dominant player. His regular-season numbers—23.4 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 4.4 APG and 1.6 SPG on 50.1 percent shooting—can attest to that. 

    His best year was in 1992-93, when Barkley's 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game earned him not only the NBA MVP Award but also earned the Suns a trip to the NBA Finals.

    The Suns never won a title with Sir Charles, but that doesn't make him seem any less of a phenomenal athlete. 

    To acquire Barkley from the 76ers, the Suns sent away Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry.

    Hornacek was a remarkable shooter and a one-time All-Star. Though he was valuable, you have to give something of value to acquire a superstar like Barkley.

    Neither Andrew Lang nor Tim Perry were superb players, but both were solid off the bench or as fringe starters. 

    Overall, however, it's pretty evident that the Suns won that trade. 

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