But if someone were to ask you what franchise has the fourth best all-time winning percentage, I bet your first guess would not be the Phoenix Suns. As it turns out, though, they are next in line.
Is this surprising? Probably. But it is a fact. The Suns are often overlooked as a quality franchise in this league, due to their inability to cap their success by bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Not winning a championship has overshadowed their ability to toss quality, winning basketball out on to the court for their fans to enjoy on a regular basis.
What comes along with having successful squads over the years is having quality players. This list’s purpose is to bring together the top players that have been involved in the organization, and compile a list of the 10 best Suns players in the franchise’s history.
This is compiled by analyzing the careers these players had while with the Suns, not their overall careers. We are looking to see who the players are that have been the best while contributing to the winning atmosphere in the Valley of the Sun.
Paul Westphal was a key member of the squad that went on to lose that memorable series against the Celtics in 1976. He was a four-time All-Star with the Suns, and is the franchise's fifth all-time leading scorer. Additionally, he was an All-NBA First Team member three times while playing in the desert.
Even though he was a great player in his day, he is often remembered in Phoenix for something else. He was the head coach of the team from 1992 to 1996, and was the coach when they made their trip to the NBA Finals in 1993.
His lineage with the franchise is a proud one, and he deserves to be recognized more for how great he was on the court, not just on the sidelines.
Shawn Marion was a first-round draft pick by the Suns in 1999, and he went on to play nine seasons with the team. He will most likely be remembered forever as being the guy with the goofy-looking shot, but Marion brought a lot more to the table than just that.
Marion might be the most versatile player in team history. He is a natural small forward, but would often play power forward in the Suns’ "seven seconds or less" offense.
This meant that he was undersized, usually matching up against a bigger opponent. Even with this disadvantage, his rebounding stats while with the Suns always hovered around double digits.
He was integral to what made the Suns so successful during his time in Phoenix. He was an athletic freak who would run and spread the floor, while also guarding the other team’s best wing player. Marion was the perfect “glue” guy for the team, and also made four All-Star games while in Phoenix.
Alvan Adams receives extra credit points for playing his entire career with the Suns. He was also a recipient of the NBA Rookie of the Year award after being drafted in 1975. His rookie year was also the season that the Suns made their first run to the Finals, which turned out to be that memorable series against the Celtics.
Adams is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, rebounds and steals. Also, considering he played the center spot, he was a gifted passer, and is third in franchise history in career assists. Pretty impressive for a center.
“The Hawk” joined the franchise in the summer of ’69, and went on to be an All-Star in each of his seasons in the desert. Connie Hawkins is a player who was only in Phoenix for a short time, but his time there was just too great to leave off the list.
The New York playground legend made his bones in Phoenix when, in 1969, he carried the team to a Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers in which the outmatched Suns eventually lost. He averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists in that series, as the Suns lost to a team that had three future Hall of Famers on it.
Hawk may not be on many lists of Suns statistical leaders, but it is hard to keep a Hall of Famer off this list, especially when he had many of his prime years in the Valley.
Although Tom Chambers’ time with the Suns was relatively short (five seasons), his effect on the team cannot be discounted. If you need evidence of his abilities on the court, look at his first year in Phoenix. He helped the team have a 27-win turnaround, and turned them into instant Western Conference contenders in his first year.
He was a three-time All-Star with Phoenix, and is one of the most prolific scorers in Suns history. He scored 60 points in a game against the Seattle Supersonics, and also holds the team record for most points averaged in a season by a Sun; he averaged 27.2 points per game in the 1989-1990 season.
Though his time was short, he made his presence felt. He is still employed by the team to this day.
A hugely popular star in Phoenix during the Suns' heyday in the mid-2000s, Stoudemire was a five-time All-Star during his time in the Valley and, while teamed with Steve Nash, made up one half of the second-most effective pick-and-roll combination of all time.
He won Rookie of the Year in 2003, becoming the first player to win the award after skipping college and jumping straight to the pros from high school. Stoudemire was the most unstoppable offensive force down low in the league at one point.
What made him memorable was his athletic ability. He was the most athletic player in the league at his position, and it was not even close.
He recently broke Suns’ fans hearts by choosing to leave the team in free agency to head to greener pastures in New York. If fans question his effect on the team and just how great he was, they will realize in time how much he brought to the table.
He will go down as a top-five Sun, and he deserves it.
K.J. was the second banana to Charles Barkley on the team that made a run to the Finals, where they fell short to the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.
The explosive point guard won the Most Improved Player Award during the 1989-90 season, when he flourished after a rocky start to his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made three All-Star teams while a Sun, and had a chance to be an Olympian as well. He is also the franchise's all-time leader in assists.
Johnson is best remembered for his highlight-reel dunk over Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1994 playoffs. You still see clips of this dunk all the time, and it's one of the more memorable moments in Phoenix sports history.
“Sweet D,” as many called him, is often considered the best pure shooter in Suns history. Walter Davis started his career in Phoenix, and he became Rookie of the Year in 1978. He was a scoring machine from the first time he stepped foot in the league.
Davis may be the most overlooked Suns great in the team’s history. He is the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 15,666 points scored, and ranks in the top five in eight other major categories. He was known for hitting clutch shots down the stretch of games and, at one point, was the premiere scorer in the Western Conference.
He is the most underrated Suns player ever.
Even though Charles Barkley spent only four seasons in purple and orange, he will forever be synonymous with the franchise.
Barkley joined the Suns in the summer of 1992 and, in his first season, went on to win the league MVP award and carry the Suns to the NBA Finals. He was an All-Star every year he was in a Suns uniform.
He was an undersized bulldozer who dominated the boards. He was supremely gifted athletically, and was easy to root for. He was the perfect player for a city to get behind.
But even with all his on-court accomplishments, Barkley’s appeal reached far beyond the court. Turning the Suns into an instant contender, along with his outrageous personality, made him a fan favorite to this day in Phoenix.
This is probably the easiest selection on this list. To put it simply, Steve Nash is the Phoenix Suns.
The two MVPs speak for themselves. But Nash has also been a five-time All-Star while here in the Valley, and he has been the ring-leader of continuously competitive teams.
The Suns of his generation will always be remembered for his flawless execution of a gimmicky offense that many outsiders never thought could succeed. He not only ran this offense to perfection, but brought the franchise to the brink of multiple championships.
Nash also seems to have made a lot of his teammates very wealthy men. His unselfish style of play is unparalleled, and his ability to create opportunities for others let his teammates thrive by putting them in positions to succeed.
He will go down as this generation's most beloved teammate, and he exemplified how to play the point guard position to near perfection.