We found a Cotton Fitzsimmons poster.

If you're an adult, you probably shouldn't be hanging posters of NBA players in your bedroom.  This is great man cave material though.  If you're like me, you had Suns posters on your walls as a kid.  This is the one I can most vividly remember. Posters of the Chuckster were pretty common though.  Here are some Phoenix Suns posters from different eras that deserve a spot on your wall.  Maybe in the garage, anyway.

Autographed Rex Chapman Poster

Sexy Rexy spent two years at the University of Kentucky before declaring early for the NBA Draft. Chapman was with the Bullets, Hornets, and Heat, before landing in Phoenix in 1996.  Rex quickly became a fan favorite, spent four years with the Suns, and gave you this. Several of these come up for bid on eBay, and based on past auctions the autographed poster with a COA after shipping can be yours for a twenty dollar bill.

1980's Kyle Macy Poster


Like Chapman, Macy was also a Kentucky Wildcat, having transferred after spending his freshman year at Purdue.  He was a three-time All-American with the Wildcats, and was drafted in the first round with the 22nd overall pick by the Suns in 1979.  Macy played out the '79-80 season with UK before joining Phoenix.  In five seasons with the Suns, Macy averaged 10.6 points and 4.0 assists.  He would later spend one season each with the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.  He was one of the original participants in the NBA's Three Point Contest when it premiered in 1986.  This classic can again hang on your wall for $37 after shipping.

1998 Antonio McDyess Poster

Most Suns fans will be familiar with the journey of McDyess, one that involved seasons spent in Denver, rather than in Phoenix, thanks to Dan Issel and the Colorado Avalanche.  Despite multiple knee injuries, the explosive McDyess carved out an impressive NBA career peaking with the Nuggets between 1998 and 2001, averaging 20.3 points and 10.4 rebounds in that span.  In total he spent just 109 games in Phoenix, making this poster somewhat of a rarity.  Reminisce on what could've been for just sixteen bucks after shipping.

Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor Posters (1) (2) (3)

Three of these are available on eBay, and yes I deliberately chose the goofiest picture to use.  Induction into the Suns Ring of Honor evidently means poster night as well.  The other two are Dan Majerle and Cotton Fitzsimmons.  Same seller, all listed for 10 bucks after shipping, but I'm willing to bet that if you email him he'll cut a deal with you.  The posting does mention that there are staple holes in the corners of each poster, which means that someone at one time did indeed hang up Jerry Colangelo and Cotton Fitzsimmons posters.  Hopefully next to each other.

Paul Westphal 1979 Poster


This is a classic.  Fans of a certain age will remember the Sports Illustrated posters.  I had Don Mattingly's hanging in my bedroom.  Westphal ranks up there with the all time greats in Phoenix Suns history.  Seller claims that the poster is in excellent condition and it's yours for $21 after shipping.  I may need to buy this myself.  Westphal spent 12 years in the NBA out of USC, half of those in Phoenix.  He was a five time All-Star, three time All-NBA First Team, and had his number 44 retired by the Suns.  As a rookie head coach he also led Phoenix to the 1993 NBA finals.  Currently Westphal is an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets.

With the likely trade of Kevin Love to Cleveland, the Phoenix Suns can nearly close the books on 2012 with a sad thud (and bury said books alongside the 2011 and 2013 books). It appears as if the promised first round pick from the Robin Lopez trade will never materialize.

Remember when the Phoenix Suns acquired a future first round pick (and Wesley Johnson) from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a three-way trade that sent Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to the New Orleans Hornets?

With apologies to Smilin' Wes, the prize return on that trade was the lottery-protected pick from "rising" Minnesota, a team who appeared destined to return to the playoffs in the near future on the back of All-Star Kevin Love and young prodigy Ricky Rubio.

I mean, that team was going to win big, right? All-Star Kevin Love. All-time-beautiful passer Ricky Rubio. Clearance of the riffraff (Michael Beasley). What could go wrong?

How about bad coaching and bad injury luck. Love missed most of the 2012-13 season due to a hand injury (the Wolves kept the pick, taking Shabazz Muhammad). But even when he returned in 2013-14, the Wolves set league records for ineptitude in closing out close games (again, they kept the pick and took Zach LaVine).

But the Suns had WON that trade, dammit!

Getting a future mid-first pick back in exchange for a disappointing extra center who wanted out while also dumping Warrick's $10 million remaining was seen as a coup for the Suns.

In July 2012, Lopez had just finished his fourth season in the valley - his worst season yet. He injured his back late in the 2010 season and never really recovered his explosiveness over the next two seasons. When he became a restricted free agent on July 1, the Suns made a gesture toward him but really looked forward to trading him for something else.

The Suns no longer needed Lopez anyway. They already had high-producing Marcin Gortat who had won the starting gig by outplaying Lopez at every turn, and everyone (except xCasx) knew that Channing Frye was best used as the backup center.

So they traded Lopez for that first round pick. But trades don't always work out the way you want them to.

Lopez eventually found his game - a reality that was prophesied by our own Seth Pollack - and has had a solid career since leaving Phoenix. He was eminently replaceable next to Anthony Davis in New Orleans (traded for a second round pick the next year), but blossomed in Portland beside All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge last season.

He has played and started all 164 games since leaving Phoenix, putting up career highs in points (11.3), rebounds (8.5) and just about every other category over the past two years. In Portland, he became the player the Suns always wanted him to be. He even became a better rebounder - something not expected after four lackluster years in Phoenix.

For their part, the Suns have cycled through four centers since Lopez left (Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee and Alex Len), but none have dramatically outplayed Lopez these past two seasons. Plumlee and Len have potential to excel, though.

Meanwhile, the prospect of that shiny first round pick is looking dimmer and dimmer.

Minnesota has been a colossal disappointment since the trade and now might start a rebuilding process with the proposed trade of All-Star Kevin Love to Cleveland later this month.

The remaining protection on that prized pick is top-12 in each of the next 2 years. After that, it turns into a pair of pumpkins second round picks in 2015 and 2016.

Luckily, the Suns didn't sit around waiting for that pick all this time. They've taken five picks in the first round of the last two drafts since that trade, plus two more coming in the 2015 Draft. All without that Minny pick. They also won 48 games last year (more than Minny) and plan to continue rising back into the annual playoff picture.

Still, the Suns had that trade in the win column. Now maybe that's moving to the loss column.

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What are the Suns going to get from the newly acquired Isaiah Thomas?

Last season, the strength of the Phoenix Suns was its backcourt - when healthy together, the Slash brothers of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe tore up the NBA. Unfortunately, those two were only healthy together for 24 games.

Jeff Hornacek's two-point guard system relied on having two dynamic guards on the floor at the same time, and as hard as Ish Smith played, the drop-off from Bledsoe to Smith was significant. To adress this, the Suns went out and signed Isaiah Thomas away from the Sacramento Kings on a favorable contract.

Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game last year for the Kings as a part-time starter. For the Suns, Thomas will play the sixth man role as a sparkplug off the bench. How does his game compare to Dragic and Bledsoe's? How does he fit into Hornacek's system?

From what I've seen, the answer to those questions is "very well."

The vast majority of the Phoenix point guards' offense came on four play types: pick-and-roll, transition, isolation and spotting up. Taking a look at Tomas' numbers via MySynergySports.com reveals a very similar play distribution, and also shows that Thomas does very well in all these areas.


Thomas ran the pick-and-roll on over 40 percent of his possessions, shooting 44.3 percent from the field and scoring 0.89 points per possession, a number that places him inside the top 30 in the NBA.

In comparison, Bledsoe scored 0.85 points per possession on 42.8 percent shooting and Dragic scored 0.98 (top 10 in the NBA!) on 51.5 percent shooting.

It was quite impressive that Thomas was able to be as effective as he was in a situation like the one in Sacramento, where spacing is virtually nonexistent and Reggie Evans was often on the floor.

Thomas' greatest asset is his quickness. With his speed and agility, and a screener to give him some seperation, Thomas is able to get anywhere he wants on the floor. Often enough, Thomas catches the defender off guard by rejecting the screen and using his quick acceleration to blow by his defender.

Here's an example from a game against Minnesota (he actually made the same play twice in the game).

Thomas brings the ball up and waits on the right wing for DeMarcus Cousins to set the screen.

As Cousins gets closer, Thomas takes a step towards him, and when Ricky Rubio takes a peek to find the screen, Thomas takes advantage and explodes.

Thomas had Rubio beat the second he looked for the screen, and he easily sidesteps the lackluster attempt at help from the corner.

Then elevates and finishes. As if Kevin Love was going to block him.

Thomas has been short for a long time, and has developed an arsenal of shots to compensate for his lack of height. He's very explosive and has good touch around the basket, using a lot of floaters, short pull-ups and difficult layups around the rim. However, even with his skill it can be difficult for him to get good looks off once he gets into the paint.

Thomas is definitely a scoring point guard, but with his quickness he can really force the issue, collapsing defenses and drawing double-teams. When he does that, he's more than capable of dumping the ball off to the roll man or kicking it out to the popping big for the open jumper.

Sacramento's lack of spacing isn't the best situation to learn about shot selection, but Thomas' biggest downfall in the pick-and-roll is his inconsistent jumper, and his over-reliance on it.

Thomas is not a strong shooter off the dribble. He is often off-balance when he rises up to fire, either leaning forward or falling back, and that makes it tough for him to be consistent. He also settles for too many of these jumpers, although part of that could be due to the less-than-iseal situation in Sacramento.


Phoenix is one of the fastest teams in the league, and with the addition of Thomas, the Suns only got faster. In Sacramento, Thomas didn't run quite as much as our guys in Phoenix, but it was still his second most common play type at 17.8 percent.

Thomas shot 55.1 percent and scored a respectable 1.17 points per possession on the break, placing him in between Dragic at 1.23 points and Bledsoe at 1.08 points per possession.

Thomas is as fast from end to end as anyone in the league. If you don't stop the ball early when he's in transition, he's running right by you and all the way to the rim. If someone does pick him up, he uses his excellent hesitation and change of speeds to still get to the rim.

Here's an example of Thomas' blazing speed in the open floor.

Minnesota's Alexey Shved tries to throw up a floater (silly Alexey Shved) that gets spiked right into Thomas' hands ...

and Isaiah is off to the races. Notice where the two Sacramento defenders are when Thomas takes off.

At this point he's already left Ronny Turiaf in his dust, and J.J. Barea is all that stands between him and the basket. Ha.

Good job, good effort Jose Juan. Two points for Thomas.

Unfortunately, he still gets blocked a decent amount despite his speed and athleticism, and he's not going to get any taller. That, and his tendency to settle for pull-up jumpers is why his field goal percentage is only 55, whereas Dragic and Bledsoe are both around 60 percent on the break.

Thomas makes up for this, however, by shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range in transition. He's quite good when he can step into the shoot, whether that be pulling up off the dribble or spotting up to catch and shoot.

Thomas is much more of a shooter than a distributor when he gets out on the brake. By my count (with the help of Synergy), he racked up 44 assists on the break last year, many of the highlight variety. He loves going for the lob down court, especially to big time leapers like Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore. Unfortunately, those are high-risk passes and it comes at the cost of turnovers, 28 of them to be exact.

Instead of blabbering on, I'll just drop the rest of my transition statistics into a table and move on.

Name Possessions Points per Possession Field Goal Makes Field Goal Attempts Field Goal Percentage Shooting Fouls Assists Turnovers Assist to Turnover Ratio Field Goal Attempt to Assist Ratio
Isaiah Thomas 263 1.17 114 207 55.1 16 44 28 1.6 4.7
Goran Dragic 351 1.23 167 264 63.3 39 65 42 1.55 4.1
Eric Bledsoe 187 1.08 78 128 60.9 18 79 35 2.26 1.6

Looking at that chart, Thomas is fairly similar to Dragic in the way he runs the break - fast and looking to score. Bledsoe is a different kin of player, instead looking to play point guard on the break and find others to finish. Jeff Hornacek has said how he is always encouraging Bledsoe to push the pace more like Dragic does, and the numbers show he really doesn't use his own ability on the break s much as Hornacek would like.


Thomas is also a very good isolation scorer, averaging 0.98 points per possession despite shooting just under 40 percent from the field. Dragic also scored 0.98 points per possession on 39 percent shooting, while Bledsoe scored a still respectable 0.92 points per possession. Each of them does it slightly differently, but all three get buckets when they have to.

Dragic is so effective because he almost always gets a shot off, turning the ball over just 15 times in 172 possessions. Bledsoe is really good at converting when he gets the shot off, shooting 50 percent from three-point range and 42.1 percent overall, but he turned the ball over one more time than Dragic in over 70 fewer possessions.
As for Thomas, his strength is scoring inside (47 percent shooting inside the arc) and drawing fouls (eight and-ones, 17 trips to the line for a pair).

Once again, Thomas' quickness is his greatest asset. He is already at an advantage against almost any defender, but he maximizes that with hesitations and head fakes that freeze defenders in their tracks and allow him to blow right by them. His agility and body control are excellent.

Here's an example against Golden State where Thomas used a simple ball fake to get his defender off balance.

Thomas is isolated at the top of the key, with Klay Thompson - a pretty good defender - checking him.

Thomas uses a ball fake, looks left, then crosses over and explodes left.

Thompson barely even moved before Thomas had him beat.

Thompson gets no help from Harrison Barnes or David Lee and Thomas flies in for the layup. Screen caps don't accurately portray how quick he is, but I'm no gif wizard.

Once again, his size sometimes makes it difficult to get shots off but even so he is still a crafty finisher. An added effect of his quickness is the amount of both shooting and non-shooting fouls he draws as opponents often have no choice but to reach out and grab him in order to slow him down.

He has a decent in-between game, with an arsenal of runners and short pull-ups, and he is pretty good at creating contact too. However, once again he settles for the jumper too often, although it's hard to expect a player to create good shots all the time in isolation situations.

Spotting Up

In a two-point guard system like the one the Suns use, it's important for at both players to be a threat off the ball as well as on it; there's only one ball to go around. Neither one of the Dragic or Bledsoe are naturals, as both do their best work with the ball in their hands. However, each of them adapted and both were effective in that role last season. In Sacramento, Thomas spotted up more than either one of them so this shouldn't be a problem for him.

Thomas scored 1.06 points per possession, placing him just outside the top 100. He shot 37.5 percent from deep and 41.4 percent overall, and also drew 11 shooting fouls.

Bledsoe scored 1.1 points per possession, a figure that ranks him in the top 70, despite shooting just 17-50 from 3-point range. His real strength was attacking out of the spot up, converting on 16 of his 26 shots inside the arc in addition to drawing six shooting fouls. Dragic was more of a straight shooter in these situations, making only five shots inside the arc and drawing only one foul. However, he still scored 1.04 points per possession because he shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range on nearly 100 attempts.

Just like in transition, Thomas is a good shooter when he has the time and space to step into his shot as opposed to having to create his shot off the dribble. He's also pretty good at moving around the arc to maintain floor balance, get himself open and create passing lanes. A quick look at his shot distribution chart shows he's pretty comfortable shooting from anywhere on the court.

Here's an example of how he might fit into Jeff Hornacek's system.

On this play, Thomas brought the ball down and is going to pass it off to Rudy Gay on the right wing. Imagine Rudy Gay is Goran Dragic for a moment.

Gay initiates a pick-and-roll with one of the Sacramento bigs - much like Dragic would do after receiving a pass from Bledsoe - while Thomas chills on the left wing.

Thomas' defender slides down into the paint to help on the roll man, while Thomas remains on the wing, maintaining spacing while staying roughly parallel to the play and within Gay's range of vision.

Gay makes the cross-court pass and Thomas rises up for the open shot before the defender can get back out to contest. Three points for Sacramento.

This is something I'd imagine we'll see quite often from Thomas on the Suns, with him playing both the shooting and passing roles.

Wrapping it Up

Isaiah Thomas is a very talented basketball player, and he's going to fit right into Jeff Hornacek's system. Everything he does is very comparable to what Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe did last year. He's a massive upgrade from Ish Smith on the offensive end and will allow the Suns to keep up the pressure for 48 minutes every single night. Thomas can score from everywhere on the floor on every relevant type of play, and Suns fans are going to really enjoy watching him do his thing.

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