Phoenix Suns' Draft: Rondo, Jackson, and Deng, One Time Suns, Now Gone

Sean StancillSenior Writer IMay 15, 2009

Now that the Suns' are officially going into the fourth week of their offseason, they have time to reflect on the past. Not just this season but from years back as well.

With the draft fast approaching, I believe its time to remind Phoenix Suns' fans and followers just who they missed out on thanks to Suns' management.

By the way, reports are that owner Robert Sarver may actually sell the pick to any team in the league in hopes to avoid slipping further in the luxury tax.
Here are three missed opportunities by the Suns' in the last 8 years:

Rajon Rondo
Selected by the Suns with the 26th overall pick in 2006, Rondo has proved he has all the intangibles to be one of the top Point Guards in the league for years to come.
He's posted three triple-doubles so far in the postseason and has the championship experience and integrity of a full-fledged veteran.
Playing alongside future Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett certainly has accelerated his development, but most of his production is a result from his own sole eggression. 
The next step for Rondo will be to work on his mechanics when it comes to outside shooting and at the free-throw line but the sky is the limit for a player with the potential of Rondo.
Rondo averaged 27.5 points, 8.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game against the Suns' in the regular season and dissected the Suns' mediocre defensive zones to get his teammates involved.
If only Phoenix would have hung on to Rondo. Think: the Suns' would have the next heir to Steve Nash's throne and the fact that he's the best defender at his position in the league certainly has to sting a bit.

Stephen Jackson
Selected by the Suns in the second round of the 1997 NBA Draft, Jackson has bounced around the league with the Nets, Spurs, Hawks, and Pacers, before emerging as the leader of the Golden State Warriors, thanks to his passionate attitude and his leadership on the floor. 
Stephen Jax was also a prominent figure in the Warriors' memorable postseason run a few years ago in which they upset the then-No. 1 seeded Dallas Mavericks before losing to the Utah Jazz in five games in the next round.
At 6-foot-8 with immaculate ball-handling a soft touch from the outside to match, Jackson plays both guard positions for the Warriors' along with his normal position at the three.
If nothing else, from Jackson, you're going to get emotion every night and consistent play on both ends of the floor.
Against the Suns this season, Jackson averaged 21.3 points, 8.3 assists, 6 rebounds including his first career triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Luol Deng
Selected seventh overall by the Suns in the 2004 NBA Draft, Deng helped the Bulls' upset the Wade-O'Neal led Miami Heat in 2007 the following year after the Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
The series proved to be his coming-out party as Deng posted 26 points, 9 boards, and 1.8 steals in the four game mopping of the defending champs and scored in double-figures in all six games of their next series against the Detroit Pistons.
He's evolved as one of the game's young rising stars when healthy and is an exceptional rebounder and defender for a player of his girth.
With long arms and the physicality of an ox, he utilizes those tools on offense as well, digging into the people and creating space for a steadily improving mid-range jumper.
This season he averaged 15 points and 5.5 rebounds against the Suns' with a 17 point-10 rebound effort to highlight the Bulls' season sweep over Phoenix.