Could the best player of this generation wind up in Phoenix?
While watching LeBron James dominate the beginning of game 5 of the NBA Finals, my friends and I hypothesized what we would do to see LeBron don the purple and orange next season. From spending time in jail to things that are not appropriate enough to post here, it got pretty far. We couldn't really tell if it was pathetic or not that this would be the best day of our lives, but that's the reality of sports fandom and one of the greatest players of all time in his prime coming to your favorite franchise that has yet to win a championship.
A small disclaimer first. This is clearly a hypothetical situation I am divulging on. The logical thinking for me is to see LeBron to Phoenix as a great fit and ranking it as the best one in my opinion (more on that later), but I'd be shocked if he even got near a meeting with the Suns. Besides, we all know that with the magic of McDonough that he would have LeBron as soon as he entered the room like an in his prime Don Draper.
Now we take a look at why the Phoenix Suns are the best option for LeBron James in 2014.
Being the man on a team is simple, as you are the clear leader of the team and are unquestionably the best player. Dwyane Wade quickly learned during the start of the Big 3 era that this point of his "leading man" career was now over, and it was going to be LeBron running the show. While I love Goran Dragic and thought his All-NBA placement was well deserved, there is a vacancy for "The Man" at the Suns in my opinion. They lack a true alpha and superstar player, and who better for the job than the best athlete in the world? With veteran leaders like Channing Frye and PJ Tucker, LeBron would fit right in and be able to lead. A team like the Bulls already has a messiah in Derrick Rose (start debating his injury I guess) which is why people believe LeBron passed in the first place for The Decision.
Here is what will cause the most debate and where we really get into this. I believe the Suns are the best fit for LeBron if he wants to win a couple more rings to truly make him and MJ a debate. First of all, the backcourt is set. Dragic is in his prime right now at 28 years old and has proved that he is an All-Star combo guard. Ditto for Eric Bledsoe, who could have easily debated a spot on the All-Star team had he been healthy. Bledsoe is also just 24 years old somehow, and in terms of volume and efficiency was one of the top 5 drivers in the NBA last season. Him and LeBron attacking the rim consistently would be frightening. PJ Tucker is the best and I love that man, but him testing free agency this season would leave the spot wide open for LeBron to step in. While some teams will try to pad their resume over the Suns roster with a solidified NBA head coach, our wonderful Rollin J. Mason has already given you the rundown on the best new coach in the NBA Jeff Hornacek.
While LeBron is struggling with Chris Bosh and the ten years later Sonics combo of Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen to be his perimeter shooters, the Suns would thrive. We've all seen how absurd LeBron's vision is while slashing the lane, and you could surround him with shooters like Dragic (40.8%), Bledsoe (35.7%), Gerald Green (40%), Frye (37%), and Marcus Morris (38%) from three. To spin that the other way, you would have two combo guards in Dragic and Bledsoe consistently finding LeBron in the right spot and from three (38%). This would also help improve the worst team statistic for the Suns last year, assists (29th in the NBA).
Defensively, the Suns would have two athletic freaks in LeBron and Bledsoe able to lock down the two wing weapons for a team and the consistently improving rim protection of a true center in Miles Plumlee (only 25). In terms of another prime defender to help LeBron with a timeshare, the Suns could look to the draft for that (cue K.J. McDaniels lovers freaking out) and still have some young guys trying to get better there. It wouldn't be the perfect fit for LeBron as a fit for a defensive team, but we all saw how surprisingly well this defense played despite being a brand new roster and it would get significantly better with LeBron.
The Rings and The Future
LeBron wants to be known as the best ever, and while I will definitely leave that argument to someone like Bill Simmons, LeBron needs a couple more rings before it can be a debate between him and MJ. I believe the Suns are the best fit for that. As I stated with the roster, this is the best mix of a current roster in terms of their age and ability right now. Now I'm no expert, but I think Dragic would do whatever he could to re-up in 2015 and win with LeBron and company. This would give the Suns a true "big 3" in LeBron, Dragic, and Bledsoe, with some humongous potential developments in youth.
Miles Plumlee is a bargain right now whether or not you are Team Alex, and it gives the Suns a true center while Len continues to develop. By the time Plumlee earns his payday or possibly earlier than that, Len would be ready to be an even better center than Plumlee ever could be based on his potential out of the draft. Archie Goodwin would continue to work out his combo guard quirk (he's only 19) while the Suns have five first round picks for the next two years. Either use those picks this year to grab a future of contributors now and later, or trade a bundle of them to move up and grab one of the lovely Randle/Gordon/Vonleh pieces at power forward.
Whatever scenario goes through in the draft, LeBron is getting the most young talent he has EVER had around him, and who better to help those players develop than him? The best part of this is that the Suns have the right mix of good enough players WITHOUT those young players (48 wins last season remember?) to make a serious run at multiple championships with LeBron right now and even in his twilight years. Adding in the eventual contributions of Len, Goodwin, Rookie X, Rookie Y, and Rookie Z (2014 trade up, international pick at 27/50, Lakers pick), and it looks to be a dynasty (gasp!). This is what separates the Suns from teams that aren't ready right now like the Sixers, Cavs, Celtics Knicks, and Lakers (HAHAHAHAHA), and teams like Miami, Houston, and the Clippers who would only be able to give LeBron his run right NOW (Miami PTSD).
Lastly, LeBron would be a Phoenix Suns and Arizona legend for the rest of his life. He'd be the best player to ever play for the Suns and would be seen as the lord and savior of a franchise that has never won an NBA Finals and a state that has had more arena football and WNBA titles than major sports titles. I don't need to explain how much everyone loves it in Phoenix and always finds a home here after their career is over. LeBron wouldn't face any scrutiny because the situation would quite simply be too good to fail and he could end his note on a couple more rings with a fantastic fan base that deserves to see their purple and orange jerseys hold up an NBA championship.
All in all, like I said, I'd be shocked if LeBron decided to even consider the Suns. He's got options like Houston and Cleveland that make a lot of sense both in narrative, a capable enough roster, and the legacy. I think he is far too tunnel vision on the option that first comes to mind. If he takes a step back though and considers all the options, I'd probably black out and wake up to the Suns finally winning a title. We can all dream right?
Image Credit goes to Daniel Kraus (@DanielNBA77)