Who doesn't like a good nonsensical ranking in the pre-season? Well, this is for you...
We knocked out 25-21 on here for #SUNSRANK for the 2014-2015 Phoenix Suns season with some big names and other faces that will have a say in how the season goes overall. Go back and check out the list from yesterday if you missed it, but lets march forward.
In these rankings some great names were left out of the Top 25 like Casey Prather, Jamil Wilson, Joe Jackson, Earl Barron, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alec Brown, the Cheerleaders, and the Hip-Hop Squad. They will not be forgotten.
#SUNSRANK is a compilation of 14 writers here on Bright Side that ranked the most important names and faces of the franchise for this one year. This is not a "future rankings" or some Fox News one-sided account of things. Everyone had their own opinion and the rankings are as the staff deemed fit. There were some wild rankings, but we are not going to leak like a sieve a la the NSA in here. We have some integrity.
Check back daily as well as on Twitter for #SUNSRANK where five more names will be released leading all the way down to No. 1. What do you think about these five listed so far?
Profile: The voice of the Phoenix Suns.
Stats: 42 years and counting making him the longest tenured broadcaster in NBA history.
Interesting Fact: McCoy was the voice of the Arizona Diamondbacks for their inaugural season in 1998. What can't the man do?
Analysis: McCoy probably doesn't get the run he used to. Radio is a far less popular medium for sports than it used to be. Availability of any and every sports competition on high definition television has relegated radio to mop up duty when someone gets stuck in a car at game time. Hell, it's still possible to watch it there. For those of us who are a little (older) more in tune with the tradition of this franchise, however, McCoy's value shouldn't be understated. Broadcasting Suns games since 1972, he has been here for the long haul... and has left an indelible mark on the team's rich history.
Important Question: How (when) do you replace a legend?
Profile: Owner, Phoenix Suns/Phoenix Mercury and Bank connoisseur
Stats: Ten seasons, 478 wins, three Western Conference Finals, one Western Conference Semifinal, and one first round playoff appearance.
Interesting Fact: A Tuscon native who through a conversation with Lute Olson had a conversation with Steve Kerr which led to a conversation about purchasing the Phoenix Suns. Small degrees of separation.
Analysis: Managing Partner Robert Sarver has a bit of a checkered reputation around these parts. He rode into town in the wake of Steve Nash's popularity and on the coattails of Jerry Colangelo's epic 35-year stewardship of the Phoenix Suns. And now, 11 years on, he is finally poised to succeed on his own terms. Having learned the lessons from overseeing the second winningest coach in Suns' history (Mike D'Antoni's .650 winning percentage) and second worst season in franchise history (Beasleyfest 2012!), he seems to have recognized his strengths and limitations as an owner. By delegating player and operations decisions to Lon Babby and Ryan McDonough, he has Phoenix on the cusp of a potentially historic run to end the 2010s. He took a lot of blame as the D'Antoni/Nash/Stoudemire Era came crumbling down. He deserves a lot of credit as the Hornacek/McDonough/Dragi? Era begins. -- Mike Lisboa
Important Question: The Billion Dollar Question -- Are the Suns for sale?
Profile: Bakersfield, CA -- Head Coach Nate Bjorkgen -- General Manager Bubba Burrage
Interesting Fact: The Suns are one of 17 teams with an exclusive partnership with a D-League Team.
Analysis: The Suns D-League affiliate will be very important for the player development of some of the younger players who probably won’t get many minutes for the Suns this year.Tyler Ennis and Archie Goodwin are likely to be among the players sent down to the D-League due to the Suns having seven players at the guard positions. Player development will always play a huge role for a team with a lot of young pieces. The development of Alex Len aka Sir Lencelot, the Morri, and Miles Plumlee will determine how the Suns decide what their front court of the future will look like. -- Austin Elmer
Important Question: What will the free-trade agreement look like with the Suns and Jam?
Profile: 6'5" 200 lbs. Shooting Guard -- Rookie Slovenia
Stats: With Unicaja Malaga 10.9 PPG 2.6 RPG 1.6 APG 41.3% FG 35.4% 3PT
Interesting Fact: Had 22 points against Mexico in the FIBA World Championships & 26 against Germany in the FIBA U20 Championships.
Analysis: Zoran has been on the basketball radar for years now. in some capacity. He is 25 years old and has played on a National stage for Slovenia since 2005 capped off by his play in the FIBA World Championships this year where he was a major component in Slovenia, a country of roughly two million, medal in a major event. While he is not his brother, Goran Dragic, Zoran has some ying to his brothers yang in terms of on court skill. He is the defender, the bigger of the two, causing deflections and making it tough for the opposition to find easy offense. That will be difficult to duplicate in the hyper athletic world of the NBA, but energy and defensive effort matter. In a crowded backcourt a defensive specialist that can hit threes and has some size will have major value in a marathon season that could culminate in the playoffs for this rookie who will not have the same growing pains his brother had in 2008 when he was a 22 year old rookie. -- Kris Habbas
Important Question: Which set of brothers will have the most impact on the Suns this season?
Stats (Years of NBA Experience): Longabardi (11), West (20), Sitching (25), and Gattison (21)
Interesting Fact: Kenny Gattison used to play pick-up games with Michael Jordan, like, it's no big thang: "It was like any other pickup game. We argued about fouls and everything. This guy traveled. We’re trying to win."
Analysis: I had the assistant coaches and staff ranked below Alex Len and above Marcus Morris. My reasoning here was logic based because I feel like the impact that the assistant coaches and staff can have on a game is above the "fringe rotation players" and below the players that will obviously have an impact on every game they play in. When everyone is healthy I really doubt that there is going to be a game that Morris or any of those players (Tolliver, Warren, Goodwin, Zoran, Ennis) has that will have enough of an impact on the outcome in a positive or negative way. There certainly and hopefully will be games where Len has that sort of impact though and everyone above him is obvious enough for that.
There is of course the most obvious man to talk about here in terms of impact and that's Mike Longabardi. His job defensively has been worth the spotlight he's received, but there's also all of the game prep and adjustments in-game here that the assistants do. A lot of simple logic here in saying the more eyes the better and I'm sure the assistants help Jeff Hornacek pick up on little nuances that could give the Suns a distinct advantage in any game this season. -- Kellan Olson
Important Question: Is Longabardi the Frank Mike Vogel or Eric Spoelstra?
Come back tomorrow for 15-11 in the #SUNSRANK series and follow along on Twitter!
Each ranking will also include one write-in ballot from the writers. We have five tremendous write-in's starting with Garrett Benson:
Who was single-handedly responsible for the "Plumdog" nickname? Our one and only FSN Suns commentator, Eddie Johnson. That one even got national recognition. Eddie Johnson knows how to get the Suns national attention, and for all the right reasons. What sort of nicknames will he come up with next season? Only EJ knows, but one thing is for sure. We’ll be hearing them all season. -- Garrett Benson
Haze the rooks.
Sounds like one other Suns guard has some work to do. The high altitude of Flagstaff doesn't sit well with The Dragon.
He'll get it together though. He's got to. Because the Suns aim to be an even faster team than they were a season ago.
Here's some perspective on the Bledsolo signing, and the NBA's new television deal inked last week.
Should the ultimate team goal be to shoot 38% from beyond the arc?
Meet the newest board members of Phoenix Suns Charities.
Ryan McDonough nearly had a career behind the mic. At one time he was the voice of the Carolina Mudcats, a Colorado Rockies affiliate.
As soon as you're finished reading this article catch the Suns on "NBA Real Training Camp" on NBATV.
Will Shavlik Randolph play a bigger, or possibly a different role on the Suns this season?
It happens almost every year. There is usually one player who seemingly comes out of nowhere and ends up playing a bigger role on the Phoenix Suns than analysts and fans ever thought possible.
Last year that player was a projected third-string center; a second-year "rookie" who registered only 55 minutes of playing time in his first season...Miles Plumlee.
I don't need to tell you how that story played out. Miles exceeded even the loftiest of expectations last year to become the starting center, and a fan favorite in Phoenix. Nobody expected any of this to happen.
Could a similar story emerge this season?
Shavlik Randolph is probably the most overlooked player on the Phoenix Suns roster. On a team that is loaded with top-end talent, quality role players, and promising young rookies, Randolph is one of only a few veteran players who doesn't seem to have a clearly defined role as of yet, or a guaranteed spot in the rotation.
But could that change?
Late last season, Shavlik first arrived in Phoenix after the Suns waived Slava Kravtsov on March 1st, in order to sign Randolph to the roster as a back up center.
Back then, Shavlik was signed to provide some extra depth at the center position, and his ability to rebound. Ryan McDonough, who was the assistant GM in Boston when Shavlik played for the Celtics in 2012-13, was obviously impressed enough with his performance during his limited minutes that he decided to bring him to Phoenix as a free agent.
Suns president Lon Babby talked about that connection and a few others after Randolph was signed. "Ryan knew him from Boston, as did Mike Logabardi. And we were careful in the moves we didn't take at the trade deadline. But in his case, he had a relationship with P.J. Tucker; they grew up together in Raleigh...We felt comfortable that he would be welcomed here, and he sure has been"
Babby then went on to describe what he brings to the team. "He's a terrific rebounder. He's a veteran. I think we felt like we needed some veteran presence there. So it was a very positive move, and I think he's going to help us out down the stretch."
Shavlik only played in 14 games last season. Although he didn't play poorly, he certainly didn't have much of an impact either...Not that much was expected from him behind players like Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye, and Alex Len.
With a contract that would only be guaranteed if the Suns chose to keep him past the July 17th deadline, most assumed the Suns would release him. But they didn't.
Instead, the Suns chose to keep Randolph and guarantee his contract for the 2014-15 season with a $1.22 million salary.
This seemed to indicate that the Suns viewed Randolph as being someone they thought could help contribute to the team in at least some respect this coming season.
Did the Suns think he could actually be a part of the rotation, or was he just insurance in case of an injury to Plumlee or Len? Having already lost Channing Frye to free agency, it seemed the latter was more likely.
I caught up with Shavlik during the Suns media day to ask him about what he's been working on over the off-season, and what he thought his role would be on this year's team.
"I tried to work on my outside shot a little bit more." Randolph continued, "I tried to keep my conditioning up and work on some back to the basket stuff and some outside range shooting."
Shavlik also mentioned that he wasn't satisfied with his overall shape and conditioning last season. "I felt like I wasn't in as good of condition when I came in last year." He continued, "It was circumstantial because I got hurt (while playing) in China."
I did notice he seemed a little leaner than last season, not that he was in bad shape before. But, it did look like and sound like he'd been taking his potential role on the team seriously.
"I was thrilled to death when they brought me back," he said. "This was a place I wanted to be a part of. It was one of the most fun (times) I've had in my eight years in the league. I look forward to trying to build on that this season."
I then asked Shavlik what he thought his role would be on the team this year. He responded, "I'm a guy that can play both the four and the five and just fit in wherever I can." He continued, "If Alex or Miles get in foul trouble...If they need someone to spell the four I can do it, if they need someone to spell the five I can do it."
This would probably be the end of the story if I hadn't watched the Suns' scrimmage in Flagstaff on Saturday.
Dave King, Jim Coughenhour, and I took a road trip to watch the game, in what would be our first look at the new team.
On the way up north, we all talked about who we were looking forward to watching, and our predictions about who we thought would have the most surprising performance this year.
In other words, who would be this year's Miles Plumlee of the intra-squad scrimmage?
When we first arrived at the Skydome and began watching the players before the scrimmage, I remarked to Dave how I had been watching Randolph warming up behind the arc and how he kept draining shot after shot. In fact, I even tweeted it.
One thing of note is that Shavlik Randolph has been nailing jumpers from above arc during war ups, 1 after the other. pic.twitter.com/9kkvLi1rcn— BrightSideoftheSun (@BrightSideSun) October 4, 2014
Randolph wasn't kidding when he said he had been working on his outside shot this off-season, he looked almost automatic. But still...this was only warm-ups, and Randolph had only hit one three-point shot in his entire eight-year NBA career.
When Randolph entered the game, I noticed him hanging around the arc on offense...that was certainly different from last year. His first shot was also a three, and he nailed it.
He also got inside for a few more baskets, grabbed a bunch of rebounds, and hit another three before it was all said and done. Randolph ended up going two-for-two from beyond the arc, while scoring 13 points in all...along with a team high 9 rebounds.
Nobody saw that coming.
Of course, this was only a scrimmage. You cannot take anything you see in a scrimmage as an indication of expected performance during the season. Everyone is playing loose, rotations are all over the place, and nothing counts. It's the perfect time and place to experiment without repercussions.
However, with Randolph talking about working on his shot as his main focus during the off-season, and the way he looked in warm-ups and the scrimmage, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could get a chance to play this season in a new role.
So, could he end up being this year's Miles Plumlee, and playing a major role with the team?
No. Even Shavlik himself understands that his role will be much more limited than that.
As he told me at Suns' media day, "I know that there are two centers ahead of me that they want to develop, young centers that have the ability to be elite." He continued, "It's the same thing as last year, I just have to stay ready...Whether I play or I don't play, I just have to keep a good veteran presence and a good attitude in the locker room and when my number's called to be ready to go out and do what I do."
But, if he does get a chance to at least crack the rotation as a back-up four/five--in order to provide spacing, help rebound, or complement certain line-ups--he may just surprise some people with the improvements he's made to his game.
Regardless of what happens, you can bet that Shavlik will be ready to help in whatever way he is needed.