So much for there being a chance...

With only a 1.8 percent chance of jumping into the top three of the 2014 NBA Draft, the odds were heavily stacked against the Suns. So it should be no surprise that Phoenix heard it's name called first when the lottery results were announced in reverse order, from 14 to one.

This is a minor disappointment, but in the end it was always going to end up this way. No team has ever jumped from 14 to 1. You can get images of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid out of your head. No more chance at a top three pick to use in a Kevin Love trade. Speaking of Minnesota, they get to keep their pick this year. Throw all that out the window.

However, the Suns are still in a great place moving forward. Winning the lottery would simply have been a very massive cherry on top for Phoenix. The Suns have the No. 14, No. 18 and No. 27 picks in this year's draft, to either use on a player or package together to make a trade. They have up to three more first round picks next year. They have a lot of young players that could easily be moved. The Suns have just as many assets tonight as they had this morning. And most importantly, they have Ryan McDonough running the show.

Lottery Order

No. 14: Phoenix Suns

No. 13: Minnesota Timberwolves

No. 12: Orlando Magic

No. 11: Denver Nuggets

No. 10: Philadelphia 76ers

No. 9: Chartlotte Hornets

No. 8: Sacramento Kings

No. 7: Los Angeles Lakers

No. 6: Boston Celtics

No. 5: Utah Jazz

No. 4: Orlando Magic

No. 3: Philadelphia 76ers

No. 2: Milwaukee Bucks

No. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Suns didn't climb into the top 3, but neither did the Lakers.

As for the top pick, the 76ers and Bucks' race for that top pick come up just a bit short. Somehow, the Cavs won it again.

The Suns unexpectedly assembled one of the most dynamic, explosive backcourts in the league last season, but is it the linchpin to a future title run or just a means to an end?

All of the hullabaloo surrounding Kevin Love's announcement that he would opt out of his contract in the summer of 2015 resonated with me on several levels. First, I've been a proponent of him becoming a Sun since the first hint of him becoming available at some point. Second, I have no doubts that the asking price will be high and the Suns still might struggle to put together a competitive package despite their recent sorcery in terms of asset collection.

While the Suns have completely unproven nice young pieces in the form of Alex Len, Archie Goodwin and multiple midrange first round picks, front offices around the league aren't slavering over them. Likewise, nobody is eyeing the likes of Markieff Morris and Gerald Green with cupidity as key components in a deal for a superstar. Those are nice embellishments, but it just doesn't seem like any combination of those assets could be the crux of a blockbuster trade.

While McStiltskin may very well leave me nonplussed by spinning the straw of his trade assets into superstar gold, it would seem that Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic have to be in the conversation if the right deal presents itself. Not only that, but people should be resigned to the fact that one of them will be included in such a deal.

That shouldn't necessarily shock anyone since last season was a rebuilding process. It was never intended to be close to a finished product. Sure, keeping Dragic and Bledsoe together while adding another piece better than either of them would be outstanding, but is it really feasible? After all, neither is the piece to build around, but an excellent adjunct to put around that piece.

And while it would be great to keep them together is it really even necessary?

Or even great, for that matter?

Maybe this was a star-crossed pairing from the outset. Let's take a look at the backcourts from NBA champions since the 1999 CBA.

Pgs_1_5.20.14_medium

The Suns proved this past season that their two point guard lineup was more than a gimmick as Phoenix jumped from the dregs of the league to a playoff contender in a deep Western Conference. Injuries played a part in derailing the team's playoff aspirations with the tandem of Dragic and Bledsoe playing together in just 37 games, but even in that limited sample there was plenty of evidence they complemented each other well on the court. The team went 24-13 in those 37 games and it seems reasonable to speculate that more time together might further galvanize the duo.

While it would seem like a boon for the Suns to have two upper echelon starting point guards, this hasn't traditionally led to success. Of the last fourteen championship teams, only Tony Parker (three times) and Chauncey Billups were top flight point guards during their team's title runs. Chauncey Billups is the only point guard on the list that could even be arguably considered the best player on his team, since Parker's championships came earlier in his career when Duncan was undeniably the team's best player.

This list shows that premiere shooting guard play has been much more vital to winning championships, with Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant combining to play on eight of the 14 champions.  Throw in Tim Duncan and that number balloons to 11.  Obviously running mates like Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James made several of these titles possible, but that still feeds into the leitmotif that top five (and especially top one or two) talent is nearly indispensable in winning a championship.

Notice how none of those players listed is a point guard. Why don't we look back a little further...

Pgs_2_5.20.14_medium

This continues a list of solid, but unspectacular point guard play. In fact, the last premiere point guard prior to Tony Parker or Chauncey Billups to win a championship in his prime was Isiah Thomas on the 1989-90 Detroit Pistons. This would become even more unique if qualified under this criteria - 1989-90 might be the last time that the best player on a championship team was its point guard.

23 years since a point guard has been the best player on a championship team. It's pretty hard to argue otherwise, except possibly in the case of Billups. Point guard just doesn't seem to be that important of a position.

After all, if point guard is such an important position then why can't/couldn't players like Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway and John Stockton lead teams to championships in their primes?

The best players haven't traditionally been point guards in a long time.

Pgs_3_5.20.14_medium

Now let's flip back to the last 14 seasons when teams were playing under the rules of a more current CBA. What does a team need from the point guard position over this period of time?

About 11.7 points and 4.7 assists per game. Hmm... not exactly overwhelming. This is mostly a list of role players that aren't/weren't even great distributors or primary ball handlers. Jason Kidd was in the twilight of his career when he piloted the Mavericks squad and Rajon Rondo was still a 21 year old neophyte when he won in Boston. The Celtics came up just short while Rondo ascended to All-Star status and the veterans aged in later years.

Having a point guard run system just hasn't been a recipe for success.  Heck, Goran scored more this past season than any player on that list. Only one player on that list even averaged more than 6.1 assists per game.

Pgs_4_5.20.14_medium

This last piece shows a breakdown of the salaries of the backcourts over the last 14 seasons and their percentages of the team's salary cap. Ten of the 14 point guards made less than 10% of the team's cap number. That would equate to less than ~$6 million under the current cap. Teams just haven't traditionally invested that much money in that position.

While many of these teams paid a large share of their money to their backcourts that was almost exclusively earmarked to Bryant and Wade.

*Although this does show that it is possible for a team to win paying over a third of their cap to their starting backcourt. The Suns will be giving that to Dragic and Bledsoe if they are both on the roster in two years.

----------

I want the Suns to win a championship and I'm confident that is the team's goal. Keeping the pairing of Dragic and Bledsoe may very well be incommensurate with that aspiration.

A team ultimately needs a transcendent talent (and maybe more than one) and point guards just don't seem to fit that bill. I was wrong before in thinking that Goran Dragic would never become an All-Star caliber player, but I'm still not banking on him joining the ranks of LeBron James. Dragic and Bledsoe may very well be great players (still want to see more of Bledsoe), but they aren't the cornerstone.

The Suns best trade assets are Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe and should absolutely be in play to bring that type of player to Phoenix.

In fact, the Suns almost succeeded with this strategy before. They traded away part of the  two point guard backcourt the current team has used as a model to demonstrate how the current incarnation can work. Hornacek and KJ were coming off of a season where they averaged a combined 40 points and 16 assists per game, but the organization felt that the team was missing something. Hornacek has even told the story ad nauseum that he felt the team was missing the type of presence that Charles Barkley ultimately brought. Unfortunately, at his expense.

Ultimately, the Suns failed to win by acquiring a bonafide top five talent, but it did lead to the team's second NBA Finals appearance and a truly great time to be a Phoenix Suns' fan.

Now the Suns may have another chance to land an elite power forward. One who can put up 25 and 12 in his sleep, but isn't going to make any All-Defense teams. One who can't seem to put the team that drafted him on his back and propel it to the playoffs.

But whether Ryan McMiracle has his eyes set on Kevin Love or some other player that's not even on my radar that he thinks he can build a championship team around he needs to go after him with an unparalleled zeal.

And he definitely doesn't need the insistence of keeping Dragic and Bledsoe together to get in the way.

The Suns would have to create a tempting package or get lucky in Tuesday night’s draft lottery to grab Jabari Parker. But considering it took me less than five minutes to get the above result...

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Before the NBA Draft Lottery determines where the Phoenix Suns will pick in the 2014 draft, we kick off our draft profile series with a look at arguably the biggest prize of all. As impossible an...

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The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight, and the Suns are gambling for more than just one lottery pick. Here's a break down of the odds and what the Suns have at stake.

What: NBA Draft Lottery

Where: Times Square Studios, New York City

When: May 20th, 5pm PST (AZ Time)

Watch: ESPN

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns find themselves in relatively familiar territory, unfortunately; vying for a chance at a top three pick with the odds stacked against them.

The Suns are slotted at the 14th and final lottery slot, their third time in the last four years that they have been in the 13th or 14th position heading into the lottery.

So far, they've yet to hit it big...In fact, in the history of the NBA Draft Lottery there has never been a team pre-slotted as the 14th pick that has ever moved into the top three.  Then again, the NBA lottery has only included a 14th slot since 2004...before that, there were only 13 lottery teams.  Even so, a 13th slotted team has only moved up once, when the Charlotte Hornets moved up to the third overall pick in 1999.

But there's a first time for everything right?

How it works

The way it's set up is that there are 1000 possible combinations of the four ping pong balls numbered 1-14, disregarding the order in which they are picked.  The teams are assigned a number of possible combinations depending on their win-loss record...which determines their pre-slotted position.

Here's a break down of the odds for each position of getting the number one pick overall:

  1. 250 combinations, 25.0% chance of receiving the #1 pick
  2. 199 combinations, 19.9% chance
  3. 156 combinations, 15.6% chance
  4. 119 combinations, 11.9% chance
  5. 88 combinations, 8.8% chance
  6. 63 combinations, 6.3% chance
  7. 43 combinations, 4.3% chance
  8. 28 combinations, 2.8% chance
  9. 17 combinations, 1.7% chance
  10. 11 combinations, 1.1% chance
  11. 8 combinations, 0.8% chance
  12. 7 combinations, 0.7% chance
  13. 6 combinations, 0.6% chance
  14. 5 combinations, 0.5% chance

The ping pong balls are then placed back in the process is then repeated for the second and third picks, and the odds are readjusted accordingly.

In a chart form, that looks like this:

Nba_lottery_odds_medium

(Chart courtesy of Wikipedia)

As you can see, the Suns have a .5% chance of landing the first pick, a .6% chance of landing the second pick, and a .7% chance of landing the third pick.  Add them all together, and the Suns have a combined 1.8% probability of moving into the top three.

So you're telling me there's a chance...

Although the Suns have only a 1.8% chance of landing a top three pick, which has never been done, this would certainly be the time to do it.

Not only is this draft absolutely loaded with elite talent, the Suns are actually gambling on a two-for-one win.  If the Suns somehow manage to make history by being the first team to ever move into the top three from the 14th position, they also push the Minnesota Timberwolves back from the 13th pick to the 14th.

If the Timberwolves end up picking 14th, then that pick is conveyed to the Suns, per the conditions of the trade that sent Wesley Johnson to Phoenix in 2012.

So not only are the Suns hoping to land a top three pick, they are hoping for an additional lottery pick from Minnesota as well.

In other words, this is the time to break out your voodoo dolls, good luck socks, prayer beads, lucky underwear, etc...The Suns need this one!

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