What’s on the Horizon for the Suns?
The Phoenix Suns are two wins away (if one comes at Utah) from becoming the first Western Conference team in 15 years to earn a playoff berth after entering the All-Star break at least six games under .500. With that said, the question surfaces: Especially with this year’s loaded draft is it worth it for this team to sneak into the playoffs, most likely as a sacrificial opponent?
It’s too easy to argue why the Suns sneaking into the playoffs as an eighth seed and probably getting bounced early is counterproductive for the franchise. The Suns are in desperate need of solid, young talent. Steve Nash and Grant Hill are clearly in the final stages of their careers and the talent the team has outside of those two simply isn’t going to cut it. I will say one thing though – Steve Nash, year after year, continues to prove why he’s one of the best (just remarkable that he’s taking this team into the playoffs).
With all that said, I do think it’s more than worth it for Nash and the Suns to make a push at that final playoff spot. Sure, it would be beneficial to have a lottery pick, but the difference in pick number and player potential wouldn’t be much. What’s the difference between the 13th or 14th pick and the 15th or 16th?
If the goal for Phoenix was to land solid young talent, they would have had to commit to ‘tanking’ at the All-Star break. Do not throw away a chance at the playoffs if you’re not going to be able to target guys like Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, or a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft. The Steve Nash era could be coming to an end very soon, why not give him one more chance at making an improbable playoff run?
Another factor, sometimes overlooked by the average fan, is that the Suns playoff appearance will have a measurable economic impact on the franchise and the city. Let’s not get too financial, but season tickets are more likely to be renewed, and fans are more likely to go back to games next season.
So, looking forward, what should the Suns do? Even in a somewhat weak free agent class, there are some guys who could prove to be vital for the Suns future. Eric Gordon would certainly be a great fit; he and Nicolas Batum are two of the only, young and attainable guys who the Suns could build around. There are some other potential pieces out there like a Gerald Wallace but we won’t be able to predict player movement at this time of the year.
Imagine a Phoenix lineup of Nash, Gordon, Batum, Frye and Gortat with Markieff as the 6th man; with a squad like that, I’d like their chances of at 5 seed in the West. Of course, landing both Gordon and Batum is easier said than done, but with the cap space the team has, improving at both those spots isn’t out of the question.
When it comes down to it, the direction of the offseason will be decided by Steve Nash. The Suns will make an honest effort to keep him and reload around him, and if he does sign back on, more moves will be made to acquire players to fit around him.
If he leaves, the Suns would have to rebuild. Unless you feel that Gortat can be a franchise player …? Didn’t think so.
As we’ve seen before, it’s a bit wild how the entire direction of a franchise can be determined by one player. But for now, let’s relax and enjoy what could be one of the final chapters in the Steve Nash story.