In the Phoenix Suns’ last defeat against the Golden State Warriors, Brandon Knight was probably the only good thing going right for the Suns through the first two quarters. He had 13 of...

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Suns notebook: Rookie forward T.J. Warren is averaging 12 points off the bench over the past three games.

      
 
 

Suns notebook: Rookie forward T.J. Warren is averaging 12 points off the bench over the past three games.

      
 
 

The Phoenix Suns have employed a lot of basketball players with basketball playing relatives. Come with me on this journey to revisit all of them.

On Tuesday, the Suns signed Seth Curry to a 10-day contract.  On Wednesday he made his Phoenix debut with a 1 minute stint in the late stages of the Suns win over Minnesota.  Something, something, something guard depth with Brandon Knight out, something someone else will say about knowing stuff about how he plays basketball.

OK - the analysis is out of the way.   You may have heard that Seth Curry is related to well-known NBA basketball player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.  You also probably know that the Suns have a pretty impressive track record of bringing in guys who have brothers who played in the NBA.

But it's not JUST brothers, the Phoenix Suns franchise has a long and illustrious history of employing players with NBA (or ABA) relatives.

In fact, by playing last night Curry became the 35th player in Suns franchise history to have a relative who played in either the NBA or ABA.

Considering he's the 325th player in franchise history - that means 10.7% of the players who've suited up for the Suns have had, or would eventually have, a relative who played in the NBA or ABA.  This includes brothers, fathers, sons, cousins, nephews, and even a grandson.

Because I love long, exhausting looks at the history of the Suns - let's take a look back at every single one of them and decide which relative had the better NBA career.

Warning:  This is hastily edited.

(1)  Dick Van Arsdale (1968-1977)

Suns Career:

He was the Original Sun.  He's in the Suns Ring of Honor and is all over the team's career leaderboard.  Though he spent his first three years with the New York Knicks, Dick Van Arsdale is basically a Phoenix Suns institution.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Tom Van Arsdale (brother)

Tom was Dick's identical twin brother and joined the Suns in the 1976-77 season for what would be each brother's final season in the NBA.  Both Tom and Dick were 3-time All-Stars but Tom's most impressive accomplishment is that he holds the NBA record for games played without a playoff appearance (929 games).

Verdict:

Dick Van Arsdale is the superior relative due to playoffs and bias.

(2)  Gary Melchionni (1973-1975)

Suns Career:

The Suns drafted this guy you've almost certainly never heard of out of Duke in the 2nd round of the 1973 NBA Draft.  I know you'd been hoping for Ken Charles out of Fordham, but Gary Melchionni it was.  Gar-bear (a nickname I decided he would have liked) played 137 games for the Suns over the course of two seasons and managed to average 7.8 points per game before playing in the Eastern Basketball Association (predecessor to the CBA) for a couple years before finishing his career in Italy.

NBA/ABA Relation:   Bill Melchionni (brother)

Gary's older brother Bill played a couple mediocre seasons with the 76ers but did play 73 games for the 1966-67 Sixers who won the NBA championship.  After his NBA stint, Bill played 7 seasons for the New York Nets of the ABA and was a 3-time All-Star while helping the Nets to a couple ABA championships.

Verdict:

Gary Melchionni was the inferior player because RINGZZZZZZZ.

(3)  Tom Van Arsdale (1976-77)

Suns Career:

Remember right above where I told you?  Of course you don't because you're skimming.  Anyway, Tom Van Arsdale joined up with his brother Dick to play his final NBA season.  In what wound up being a horribly disappointing follow-up to the Suns 1976 NBA Finals berth, the team won just 34 games with Tom playing 18.5 minutes per game.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Dick Van Arsdale (brother)

See (1) above.

Verdict:

Tom Van Arsdale is inferior to Dick Van Arsdale and probably jinxed the Suns.

(4)  Curtis Perry (1974-1978)

Suns Career:

Perry joined the Suns via a trade with the Jazz that sent Neal Walk to New Orleans.  The big man was a significant contributor in his first two seasons in Phoenix - including the 1976 NBA Finals year - before injuries limited him to just 89 games in his final 2 seasons before retirement.  In his 4 season Phoenix Suns career, Perry averaged 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Byron Houston (son)

14 years after Perry's retirement, his biological son Byron Houston was drafted 27th overall by the Chicago Bulls.  Houston lasted 4 years and 150 games in the NBA before playing professionally in various leagues up until 2001.

Verdict:

Curtis Perry was the better relative because NBA Finals.

(5)  Ron Lee (1976-1979)

Suns Career:

Phoenix drafted the guy nicknamed "The Tazmanian Devil" 10th in the 1976 draft and for a couple seasons the guard was a double digit scorer off of the Suns bench.  Lee was a fan favorite, known for his slam dunks (I feel like since it was the 70's you're supposed to say "slam dunks").  In his third season, the Suns used Lee as part of a package to acquire Truck Robinson to help bolster their NBA title hopes.

Lee played 3 more seasons in the NBA before finishing his career in Europe.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Russ Lee (brother)

Russ Lee was the 6th overall pick in the 1972 NBA Draft (Milwaukee) - 4 picks ahead of Paul Westphal.  That didn't work out so hot as Russ played in only 97 games over 3 seasons before retiring.

Verdict:

Ron Lee is the superior player for his slam dunks and the fact that he played more than 97 games and outscored his brother 3285 to 282.

(6)  Walter Davis (1977-1988)

Suns Career:

Phoenix used the 5th pick in the 1977 NBA Draft on Davis and he did not disappoint.  Walter Davis is the all-time leading scorer in Suns franchise history and was a 6-time All-Star and 2-time All-NBA 2nd team selection. If that's not enough he had nicknames like the Greyhound, Sweet D, and The Man With the Velvet Touch.  The last one is probably also the name of a romance novel you've read.

The negatives on Davis were his drug and injury issues - including being heavily involved in the Suns drug scandal of the 1980s.  He finished his career with the Nuggets and Blazers.

NBA/ABA Relation:   Hubert Davis (nephew)

Walter's nephew Hubert entered the NBA in 1992 and managed to play 12 seasons as a role playing sharpshooter before retiring in 2004.  He was never a star like his uncle but he did manage to hit 44.1% of his career 1,651 three point attempts which is 2nd behind Steve Kerr all-time among qualifying NBA players.

Verdict:

Walter Davis was just a much better player.

(7)   Dennis Johnson (1980-83)

Suns Career:

The Suns liked DJ so much they dealt All-Star Paul Westphal to pry him out of Seattle. In his 3 seasons in Phoenix, the Suns averaged 52 wins a year while Johnson was All-NBA 1st team once, and All-Defensive team all 3 years.

For some dumb reason Jerry Colangelo traded Johnson WITH a 1st round pick to Boston in order to get bench center Rick Robey (and two 2nd round picks) in a trade I will hate for the rest of time.

Johnson went on to win 2 NBA titles with the Celtics and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Nick Johnson (nephew)

The former University of Arizona guard is in his rookie year in the NBA with the Houston Rockets and has played in 18 games.

Verdict:

Dennis Johnson wins and this is likely to hold unless Nick Johnson has a miracle Hall of Fame career.  If he does I bet Jerry Colangelo will find a way to trade him for some scrub big man.

(8)  Dudley Bradley (1981-82)

Suns Career:

The Suns acquired Bradley after he spent 2 seasons with the Pacers including one in which he was named All-Defensive 2nd team.  Bradley would spend just one mediocre season with the Suns before leaving for Chicago in free agency.

By far the most offensive thing about Dudley Bradley's time in Phoenix is that the Suns surrendered two 2nd round picks AND the option to swap 1983 1st round picks (which they had acquired in a trade which sent Don Buse back to Indiana in 1980) to the Pacers.

In the event you want to roll your eyes at Jerry Colangelo some more you'll be interested to find that the Pacers went on to hold the 2nd pick in the 1983 NBA Draft while the Suns pick (24th) was dealt to Cleveland to acquire James Edwards and a 1st round pick.  The 1st round pick the Suns acquired was the one sent WITH Dennis Johnson to acquire Rick Robey.

All wonderful moves.

Bradley did play a total of 600 NBA games before retiring in 1989.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Charles Bradley (brother)

Dudley's young brother was the final pick of the 1st round in 1981 by the Celtics but was a total bust - playing in 110 games over 3 seasons.  He was however nicknamed "Tub" - which is awesome.

Verdict:

I would really like to say Charles Bradley based on nickname alone but Dudley was the superior brother.

(9)  Grant Gondrezick (1986-87)

Suns Career:

Considering all he cost the Suns was a 4th round pick in 1986 (those existed back then) it was pretty impressive that Gondrezick managed to play 65 games with the 1986-87 Suns.  Then you remember the Suns sucked that year, then you further remember that Gondrezick was one of the 3 players indicted in the 1987 drug scandal - then you suddenly feel less impressed.

Suffice it to say, Gondrezick was waived and would play just 27 more games in the NBA with the Clippers in 1988-89.  He also plead guilty to mortgage fraud in 2009.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Glen Gondrezick (brother)

Grant's older brother Glen played 6 fairly non-descript seasons in the NBA for the Knicks and Nuggets.

Verdict:

Grant loses because he wasn't that good AND he was involved in a scandal that almost killed the Suns franchise.  That'll get you every time.

(10)  Richard Dumas (1992-1995)

Suns Career:

Speaking of drugs - Richard Dumas finds the next spot on our list.  Dumas was suspended for the entirety of the 1991-92 season for violating the NBA's substance abuse policy but when he joined an excellent Suns team in 1992-93 he carved out a niche as a helpful piece of a team that reached the NBA Finals.

On a team with Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, and Dan Majerle, Dumas averaged 15.8 points per game and scored 25 points in an NBA Finals game.

Dumas couldn't stay clean and after another year-long suspension and 15 games with the 1994-95 Suns, he was waived.  He played 39 games more for the 76ers before finishing his career out of the NBA.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Rich Dumas (father)

This is probably my favorite one since Rich Dumas played all of 5 minutes in 1 game for the Houston Mavericks of the ABA in 1968-69.  That was it.

Verdict:

Even the massive disappointment that was Richard Dumas can beat 5 minutes of a guy from the ABA.

(11)  Frank Johnson (1992-1994)

Suns Career:

Fourth Quarter Frank played 8 seasons with the Bullets and Rockets before heading to Europe for 3 years.  The Suns brought him back from Europe just in time to backup Kevin Johnson and Negele Knight with the 1992-93 Suns.

Johnson wasn't expected to play a major role (see his release on November 3rd of that year before being re-signed 2 days later) but with injuries to KJ he wound up playing nearly 15 minutes per game in the regular season.  He played one additional season with the Suns before retiring.

NBA/ABA Relation:   Eddie Johnson (brother)

It's not the Eddie Johnson you're thinking of.  Remember a few years ago where the Suns announcer Eddie Johnson had to deny that he was the guy sentenced to life in prison without parole for sexual battery of a minor?  Well this Eddie Johnson is the one who actually did that.

He's awful.  He may have been an NBA All-Star in both 1980 and 1981 and have scored over 10,000 points in the NBA - but he's awful.

Verdict:

In a list made up of several people you may not call model citizens, Eddie Johnson is the worst.  Frank Johnson had a much worse NBA career but he wins by default.

(12)  Danny Manning (1994-99)

Suns Career:

Manning was already a two-time All-Star when he agreed to join the 1994-95 Suns in order to play for a contender, signing a one-year, $1 million dollar deal because it's basically all the Suns had.

Unfortunately Manning tore his ACL when he stepped on Joe Kleine's foot during practice - with the Suns holding a 36-10 record - and he'd miss the rest of the season.  As far as I'm concerned Joe Kleine cost the Suns an NBA championship.

Despite the injury, the Suns re-signed Manning to a six-year, $40 million dollar contract and he remained productive right up until he tore his ACL again before the 1998 playoffs.  Despite the injury he was named NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 1997-98 and managed to play in all 50 games of the lockout shortened 1998-99 season.

The Suns would use Manning as a piece to acquire Penny Hardaway in the 1999-2000 offseason.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Ed Manning (father)

Danny's dad played 4 seasons in the NBA with the Bullets, Bulls, and Blazers before finishing his career in the ABA with Carolina, the Nets, and the Pacers.  You can look at his basketball reference page if you'd like - but he was just a guy.

Verdict:

Danny Manning defies the injury issues to be better at sports than his Dad.

(13)  Wesley Person (1994-97)

Suns Career:

The Suns drafted Wes Person with the 23rd pick in 1994 and even though the Suns were really good that season, he played 23 minutes per game, scored 10.4 points, and shot 43.6% from three.

On worse Suns teams the next couple years, Person played a larger role but was less efficient in doing it.

That offseason he was part of a three-team trade that brought Antonio McDyess to Phoenix.  Person played 8 more seasons in the NBA for the Cavs, Grizzlies, Blazers, Hawks, Heat, and Nuggets.  He did manage to shoot 41.8% from three for his career.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Chuck Person (brother)

Wesley's older brother was a key player for the Indiana Pacers for 6 seasons and remained a valuable piece for the Timberwolves, Spurs, and Hornets before finishing his career with the Sonics in 2000.

Verdict:

Chuck is the better brother due to the increased load he handled (13,858 career points) and his legendary trash talking abilities - but Wesley put up a decent fight.

(14)  Danny Schayes (1994-95)

Suns Career:

Schayes may have spent just one season with the Suns, but it felt like 3.  Maybe that's because he fits right in with the slosh of Joe Kleine, Luc Longley, Jake Voskuhl, and Chris Dudley such that you think they're all the same person.

By the time he came to Phoenix, Schayes was 35 years old and just kind of an additional tool to help stop Hakeem Olajuwon.  Shockingly that didn't work out.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Dolph Schayes (father)

Dolph Schayes was a Hall of Fame big man for the Syracuse Nationals.

Verdict:

Dolph Schayes was a Hall of Fame big man for the Syracuse Nationals.  His competition here is Danny Schayes.

(15)  Rex Chapman (1996-2000)

Suns Career:

Chapman signed as free agent with the Suns just before the 1996-97 season began (he'd previously played with the Hornets, Bullets and Heat) - just in time to see the Suns start the season 0-13.  However, Chapman was part of the turnaround that saw the Suns still make the playoffs - and in those playoffs he hit one of the most famous shots in franchise history.

He was a part of 3 additional Suns playoff teams before retiring following the 1999-2000 season.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Wayne Chapman (father)

Rex's dad played 206 games over parts of 4 seasons for the Kentucky Colonels, Denver Rockets, and Indiana Pacers - all in the ABA.

He has not to my knowledge scammed any Apple stores.

Verdict:

Guilty of organized retail theft and five counts of trafficking in stolen property Rex Chapman because he scored nearly 10,000 points in the NBA and you've heard of most of the teams he's played for.

(16)  Stephon Marbury (2001-2004)

Suns Career:

The Suns acquired Marbury when they shipped Jason Kidd off to New Jersey and he played in 197 games for the franchise.

Phoenix took a 15-win nosedive in Marbury's first season in the Valley but rebounded to make the playoffs the next season while Marbury was All-NBA 3rd team and had a really great playoff moment against the San Antonio Spurs.  If I know anything about Suns history - if you have those two things then you are an unassailable fixture who can do no wrong.

The Suns stunk the next year (29 wins) and dealt Marbury to the Knicks in a cap space clearing move that opened the door for Steve Nash to return to Phoenix.

NBA/ABA Relation:   Jamel Thomas (cousin) and Sebastian Telfair (cousin)

Jamel Thomas - best known as Sebastian Telfair's brother who had a cameo in Through the Fire - played a grand total of 12 games in the NBA from 1999-2001.  The final 5 of those were for Marbury's 2000-2001 New Jersey Nets although the two didn't play together due to Marbury being out with injury.

Telfair entered the NBA to widespread fan fare as a lottery pick of the Blazers but never lived up to the initial hype.  That said, he's played in over 500 NBA games and made over $18 million dollars so good on him for adjusting.

Verdict:

Whether it's Vaseline consumption or basketball playing - Stephon Marbury gets the nod.

(17)  Brevin Knight (2003-04)

Suns Career:

The NBA veteran of 729 games spent just 3 of those with the Suns during the immensely forgettable 2003-2004 season but hey - it counts.  He also scored 2 points, which puts him ahead of Cezary Trybanski, Courtney Sims, Gani Lawal, Dwayne Jones, Seth Curry, and Robert Archibald on the Suns all-time scoring list.  He's currently tied with Reggie Bullock for 318th.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Brandin Knight

It's a different Brandin Knight.  You can tell because the spelling is different.  This version went to Pittsburgh and then played in 1 game for 3 minutes in 2004-2005 for the Houston Rockets.

Verdict:

Whether we're talking about Brevin's NBA career or even the brevity of his Suns career - he takes this one.

(18)  Jackson Vroman (2004-05)

Suns Career:

Some people point to Steve Nash joining the Suns as the catalyst that got the Seven Seconds or Less era up and running - I point to Jackson Vroman's 10 games in 2004-2005.  Phoenix paid the price to acquire a talent of Vroman's ability when they sent the draft rights to Luol Deng to Chicago to pick up the Iowa State product (sure they got a 2005 1st round pick as well but make no mistake, this was a Vroman deal) and he went on to start this game.

After playing in a total of 10 games, Vroman heroically sacrificed his Suns career by trading himself (along with Casey Jacobsen and Maciej Lampe) to the Hornets so the Suns could get Jim Jackson.  No doubt heartbroken by the loss of his first love, Vroman played only 77 more games in the NBA.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Brett Vroman (father)

Jackson's dad played in 11 games for the Utah Jazz in the 1980-81 season and then played in Europe for the remainder of the 80s.  After that he probably spent time making Jackson Vroman the perfect basketball player.

Verdict:

Jackson Vroman because he played more NBA games.

(19)  Jalen Rose (2006-2007)

Suns Career:

Remember how Jalen Rose was a member of the Fab Five then played in the NBA for 13 seasons scoring 13,220 points while being a contributing member of several Pacers contenders?  How about when as a 34 year old the Knicks waived him and there was a great deal of excitement regarding his free agency?

Well he wound up with the Suns, he sucked, and Mike D'Antoni buried his old ass.

Rose was not a good fit in Phoenix - nor in D'Antoni's razor thin rotations - and played in just 29 games.  He was used so little that he didn't even play in Game 5 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals against the Spurs when  Amar'e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Jimmy Walker (father)

Jalen and his father were famously estranged - and I guess there's not much more to say about that.

Walker was the 1st pick in the 1967 NBA Draft - one selection before Hall of Famer Earl Monroe and was a good player in his own right, being twice named an All-Star in a 9 year NBA career.

Verdict:

Due to the All-Star berths and the fact that I find Jalen Rose annoying - estranged dad takes the win.

(20) Eric Piatkowski (2006-2008)

Suns Career:

Everyone's second favorite human victory cigar (Pat Burke 4 evah!), Piatkowski was a Phoenix Sun for just two seasons and played in only 27 games in that time.  That said, these were seasons 13 and 14 of his career so just the fact that he lasted that long is monumentally impressive.

He was good at shooting three pointers.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Walter Piatkowski (father)

Father of the Piatkowski played in 157 games in the ABA for the Denver Rockets and The Floridians.  That wasn't a typo -  at one point the Miami Floridians just decided to drop "Miami" from their name and go by "The Floridians".  I find that both awesome and ballsy.

He wasn't a very good professional basketball player but his Wikipedia page says he retired from the ABA to become a salesman with a paper company.  I believe this means he was on The Office.

Verdict:

Sorry Dad -  this is all Eric.

(21) Linton Johnson (2007-2008)

Suns Career:

Blink and you missed it.  Linton Johnson played 6 games for the Suns in 2007-2008 and scored 15 points.  That 15 points is way more than Brevin Knight though - so who's laughing now?

Johnson did manage to kick around the NBA for a few years and amase a total of 151 games over the course of several seasons with the Bulls, Spurs, Nets, Hornets, Raptors, Hornets again, and Bulls again.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Mickey Johnson (uncle)

Uncle Mickey played in the NBA consistently from 1974 until 1986 and scored over 12,000 points for the Bulls, Pacers, Bucks, Nets, and Warriors.

You do not require additional information.

Verdict:

M-I-C-K-E-Y  (do it in tune)

(22)  Robin Lopez (2008-2012)

Suns Career:

RoLo was the Suns 1st round pick in 2008 - the one they acquired by way of the Joe Johnson trade - you know, the one that was top 3 protected in 2007 and then the Hawks moved up in the draft lottery, improved, and then the Suns pick had much less value.  He backed up Shaq as a rookie but by the middle of his 2nd season, he was a key player on a team headed for the Western Conference Finals.

A back injury limited Lopez during the 2010 playoffs and I don't find it frustrating at all to think about whether the 2010 Western Conference Finals could have been a little different with a healthy Lopez combating Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

After spending 2010-11 as a starter, Lopez was relegated to the bench with the acquisition of Marcin Gortat before being dealt prior to the 2012-13 season.

He's now in Portland being all weird and productive.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Brook Lopez (brother)

Twin brother Brook went 5 picks before his brother in the 2008 NBA Draft and is quite a bit better at scoring a basketball than his frizzy haired brother.  But he's not as good at rebounding and defense.

He signed a 4 year, $60 million dollar contract in 2012 and was named an All-Star in 2013.

Verdict:

I guess Brook has accomplished more and made more money.  I'd rather have Robin.

(23)  Goran Dragic (2009-2011, 2012-2015)

Suns Career:

I honestly have no idea.  Does anyone have any Goran Dragic Suns memories they could share?

NBA/ABA Relation:  Zoran Dragic (brother)

Verdict:

Not Zoran Dragic.

(24) Channing Frye (2009-2014)

Suns Career:

I did a whole column on this and I'm not going to re-write it here.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Tobias Harris (cousin)

Harris was a 1st round pick in 2011 and spent a season in a half with the Bucks before being dealt to Orlando as part of a package to get JJ Redick to Milwaukee for half a season.  The Tennessee product has  been a pretty productive player for the Magic and has developed into a pretty productive scorer. He's also in his 4th NBA season and he hasn't turned 23 yet.

Verdict:

It's Channing for now but it won't be Channing for long - particularly if he's eaten by a shark just like the gypsy woman said.

(25)  Jarron Collins (2009-10)

Suns Career:

The Suns picked up the 9th year center as center insurance and he wound up coming in sort of handy once Robin Lopez went down with injury in the 2009-2010 season.  "Sort of handy" means they used to start him while Lopez was injured so they could maintain their rotations with Channing Frye coming off of the bench.

Collins' starts usually consisted of about 5 minutes in the first quarter followed by another 5 minutes in the 3rd quarter and then a return to the bench.  His legacy is this fast break dunk:

NBA/ABA Relation:  Jason Collins (brother)

Jarron's twin brother played longer and basically exceeds him in every single relevant statistical category.  He also made the NBA Finals in back to back years with the New Jersey Nets.

Verdict:

Jason reigns victorious but the value of both guys was that they had 6 fouls per game.

(26)  Taylor Griffin (2009-2010)

Suns Career:

I mean.  What can I say.  I think I'll just let the sponsor on his Basketball-Reference page do the talking.

He currently plays in the D-League for the Santa Cruz Warriors for whatever reason.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Blake Griffin (brother)

He's Blake Griffin.  He's been in the NBA 5 seasons and he's a five-time All-Star.  He also enjoys whining and flopping.

Verdict:

Taylor Griffin has enjoyed the superior NBA career for certain.

(27)  Vince Carter (2010-11)

Suns Career:

Kill it with fire.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Tracy McGrady (cousin)

At his peak, McGrady was one of the most dominant scorers in the NBA.  He was a two-time scoring champion (topping out at 32.1 points per game in 2002-03) and was All-NBA 1st team twice, All-NBA 2nd team 3 times, and All-NBA 3rd team twice.

Prime Tracy McGrady was awesome and he's at worst a borderline Hall of Famer.

Verdict:

I'm going to give the nod to T-Mac based solely on All-NBA selections (he wins 7-3) and my personal hatred of Vince Carter in a Suns uniform.

(28)  Markieff Morris (2011-present)

Suns Career:

Drafted in 2011 out of Kansas, Markieff has gone from doing a bad Channing Frye impression to being a pretty decent NBA starter who is wildly polarizing for a lot of people who read this website. If you need to know more about Markieff Morris, click anywhere else on Bright Side of the Sun.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Marcus Morris (brother)

He plays basketball for the Phoenix Suns right now.  You probably know him.

Verdict:

Any time you sign your contracts together and your twin brother agrees that you're worth $12 million dollars more over a 4 year period, you get to win.

(29)  Sebastian Telfair (2011-2013)

Suns Career:

Bassy was in his 8th NBA season when he was a participant in the parade of Steve Nash backups in the 2011-12 season.  During that year he was a capable backup who endeared himself to Suns fans with his gritty play and ability to be decent at basketball.

In the 2012-13 season the Suns were awful and didn't really have a need for him so they dealt him to Toronto for Hamed Haddadi and a 2nd round pick.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Jamel Thomas (brother) and Stephon Marbury (cousin)

It's all up there.

Verdict:

The Chinese Basketball Association's greatest player still wins.

(30)  Marcus Morris (2012-present)

Suns Career:

Houston traded him to Phoenix during the lost 2012-13 season and Marcus has paid back that show of trust by being totally average.  When he's not playing basketball he enjoys blocking Sreekar on Twitter.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Markieff Morris (brother)

Verdict:

See above, it's still Markieff.

(31)  Luke Zeller (2012-13)

Suns Career:

LOL.  The only memorable thing about Luke Zeller's time as a Phoenix Sun was the time Lance Blanks said he was one of the best shooters in the world.  Which says everything you need to know about Lance Blanks' skills as a talent evaluator.

NBA/ABA Relations:  Tyler Zeller (brother), Cody Zeller (brother), Al Eberhard (uncle)

Both of Luke's little brothers were 1st round picks (2012 for Tyler, 2013 for Cody) and both are already far better than Luke by an exponential amount.  That leaves us with ol' uncle Al who was a 1st round pick in 1974 and by playing in 220 games - as mediocre as they were - he's much better than his nephew.

Verdict:

Luke Zeller gets picked on at family reunions.

(32)  Miles Plumlee (2013-2015)

Suns Career:

The former Parks & Recreation star was the 1st revelation of the Ryan McDonough era as he burst onto the scene in the early part of the 2013-14 season and held down the Suns center job for the entire season.

Year two saw a regression, losing his starting spot to the apple of my eye, and eventually a trade to Milwaukee.  That first year though - it was fun.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Mason Plumlee (brother)

Miles' little brother came into the NBA just a season after big brother and was much more productive as a rookie than Miles was as a little used rookie with the Pacers and in the same ballpark as Miles' breakout 2nd year.

While Miles Plumlee regressed in his 3rd year, Mason Plumlee has improved in his 2nd.

Verdict:

Mason Plumlee is better right now and he's going to have a much better NBA career in the long-run.

(33)  Shavlik Randolph (2014-2015)

Suns Career:

I feel like I've covered Shavlik Randolph's illustrious NBA career at length.  So go here.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Ron Shavlik (grandfather)

He played 8 games for the Knicks from 1956-58 and shot 4/23 from the field (17.4%).  If I hadn't Google'd a picture of him I would have just assumed he was Earl Barron's grandfather.

Verdict:

Was this an entire column dedicated to finding someone that Shavlik Randolph outperformed?  Maybe.  Do I think it's kinda cool to find out that Shavlik Randolph was named after his grandfather?  Yup.

(34)  Zoran Dragic (2014-15)

Suns Career:

The Suns signed him to make his brother happy and then he played all of 13 minutes over 6 games before being traded with his brother.

NBA/ABA Relation:  Goran Dragic (brother)

A good basketball player you've probably never heard of.  Very trusting.

Verdict:

The NBA's Frank Stallone doesn't win this time either.

You're next Seth Curry!  Best of luck on outperforming your older brother.

While the national media and outlets of that variety are looking at the Suns chase for the 8 seed, most Suns fans and people closer to the team are more focused on what the youth of the team is going to bring for the rest of the season.

Brandon Knight (23) and Alex Len (21) are in the starting lineup already and Archie Goodwin (20) and T.J. Warren (21) are sporadically finding more playing time and will likely be featured much more the closer we get to the end of the season.

It's still pretty crazy to think about Eric Bledsoe (25) and the Morris twins (25) as the veteran leadership of this team, but that's where the roster stands for now. The progress of those three players is important, but the improvement of those four previous players mentioned is crucial to the future of the Suns.

Each of the four players should have an important role in the rotation as early as the start of next season and with that it's meaningful to look at what they can do in the NBA and what they can work on. Let's dig in.

Brandon Knight

Knight is the most interesting Suns player to analyze with his impending restricted free agency coming this offseason. Knight's a combo guard with basketball skills that are more suited to being off of the ball and playing the 2.

He shoots threes and moves around the floor very well, allowing himself to pickup space. The most famous clip of Knight associated with handles is Kyrie destroying him during All-Star weekend, but Suns fans are now getting acclaimed to Knight's own ball-handling displays.

That game winner against the Nets shows how ridiculously well Knight can control the basketball when it actually appears to be the opposite. The composure to sense space on the left and look so comfortable rising up for the bucket is impressive.

This is the best part of Knight's game besides his shooting. He can catch-and-shoot from deep and that's crucial for this team because of the hole that Isaiah Thomas' departure leaves (42%) in that department. He's currently shooting 39% in these scenarios (41% in MIL) and that's the best number in the starting lineup.

Knight's a good defender and maybe the most entertaining part of his arrival is seeing his disbelief in the way he moves around on defense compared to everyone else. This is only good for the Suns to get guys that actually talk on defense and take it 100% seriously. He makes mistakes, but the theme of this post is that he's still pretty freaking young.

The improvement for Knight comes with adding another element to his offense. He can really handle the ball and shoot, but what comes after that? Knight is obsessed with long 2's as we all groan simultaneously. Knight is shooting 10-30 from those spots this season and it seems to be the best byproduct of his handle.

Little things in that clip like adding the stepback when it wasn't completely necessary will make us all happier by October. Watching Knight do this gives everyone a greater appreciation of when IT used to consistently be really good at making theses shots or attacking the rim.

Before we get to attacking the rim, that next element of offense should be his playmaking, but it's extremely erratic. Knight will make a great pass and then a horrible pass 45 seconds later. There's no in-between with him.

That's a really simple pass and Knight even misses Bledsoe's feet. Consistency is a theme here and that's something you expect and hope for young players to gain with so much playing time at this age.

Finally, attacking the rim is the last area you could see Knight progress his game. He was shooting 52% there in Milwaukee, but is only at 44% in Phoenix. A number like that is one of the main reasons Knight is only shooting 38% in his 10 games here. Here is a really good example of the two sides Knight has shown as an attacker.

You are damn right I left in Whiteside being a punk (but Alex started it!) and Beasley cackling at it. Anyway, Dragic played great D on Knight and right at that point Brandon has to have the wherewithal to back out of that in transition. He doesn't and then Whiteside makes sure it's not going in. The next play though Knight makes such a pure floater and adjusts right away.

That's the thing you enjoy the most about watching Knight. That quick release and shots like that Brooklyn dagger and Miami floater are so pure that you expect great thing in the future.

Alex Len

As the great philosopher Rollin J. Mason once said, "come watch Alex Len play basketball!" Watching Len continue to impress and grow has been the highlight of this season. There's no need for such a long explanation for Len because his potential feels so high.

Len give you a little bit of this...

And this...

Sprinkled with some of this.....

And maybe the best is that he gives you this....

Len doesn't take any shit, he keeps getting better every game, and he shows off something new on the offensive end pretty much every week. There's no real way to go too in-depth on what he needs to work on because of how much of a delight this season has been for him. Foul trouble is a thing, but once again, he young. Let's just all enjoy the man.

Archie Goodwin

Isn't it strange how familiar we are with Archie's pros and cons and he's only played 756 minutes in the NBA?

Archie's best strength is slashing and getting to the rack. He's quite honestly superb at it and any sort of ease we thought was going to go away with an increase in level of opposition was silly.

That sort of craftiness around the rim is spectacular and then he shows off the athleticism that makes you fall out of your chair.

Archie's so good at this already that he only needs a little bit more to his game and then he's homebound. Whether that comes from improving as a shooter (7-19 this season from three), defender, or playmaker (yikes), that's all he needs. He's the player out of these four who needs a bulk of playing time the most for experience and hopefully wee see that very soon.

I said this about Archie after Vegas; it's still too early to worry because of how young he is. The beginning of next season is when we can start to show concern about the other elements of his game, but the playing time he gets for the rest of this season will go a long way in eliminating that worry.

T.J. Warren

The most unknown of this four, T.J. has a lot of people watching this team very excited about his future. His future for minutes is the most unknown as well, with Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker being a clear block for his playing time in the future and present. Regardless, if Warren plays like he did last night Hornacek will have no choice but to play him.

Warren's strength is scoring the basketball in just about any way possible.

That's 17 easy points in 18 minutes. TJ's efficiency (53 FG%) and energy (3 ORB per 36) are so welcome to this team. His cuts to the basket and activity on the boards is exactly what this rotation needs. Those two skills alone are enough to warrant a spot in the rotation right now.

His improvement will have to come on the defensive end and still retaining offensive efficiency once defenses force him to shoot. Possessions like this against the Cavs give you a ton of hope.

The basics might not be there, but that's the type of defense I never thought Warren could play in the NBA. Instead of being a specialist like Knight and Goodwin are currently, Warren might belong in a group with Len in that we should be ready for a lot more.

That's what Suns fans have a right to be excited about.

Conclusion

There are two things worth going over here. The first is that Hornacek is really going to struggle finding four players of this age group a ton of playing time. That's a struggle in any capacity, even when the team is out of the playoff race. The slow build since the trade deadline towards playing time for Goodwin and Warren is evidence of that. You shouldn't expect Goodwin and Warren to each be playing 20+ minutes a game by April, but you should expect them to see the floor much more.

Those four players will continue to bring optimism to the Suns future and that's not even going over the rest of the slightly older core, Reggie Bullock, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and the Suns own future first-round picks. Some fans might be disappointed by missing the playoffs, but the main takeaway should be that this is a rebuild that is still underway and the Suns are setting themselves off for a great payoff.

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