By producing the franchise's 2nd worst record ever, you would think most of last year's Phoenix Suns would be out of the league by now. However, no less than 12 of 16 players are playing significant roles this season on NBA teams.

At the moment, the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns are 30-20 - their best 50-game start since 2009-2010. The Suns currently sit in 6th place in the Western Conference with 32 games to go.

Last year's 25-57 record is a distant memory, one that only gets conjured up when a reporter asked a "then and now" question or a visiting player happens to have played on that team.

"We're all happy now. It's really painful to me that...everybody wanted to forget that year, including me. That's hard for me to swallow."

These words could have been said by any of the twelve players on last year's roster that have moved on, but they were uttered by Luis Scola when the Pacers recently visited the valley. Scola was a great guy who really meant well and wanted to win games, but he was part of the team-wide frustration that enveloped the team and dragged it down.

Let's take a look at what's happened to the worst team in the Phoenix Suns franchise history.

Four who remain

You may not want to associate these guys with the dark days, but Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris have made it all the way through these downs and ups. They have slugged through the dark side of basketball and are now experiencing the sun-shiny side. Some might call it the Bright Side of basketball.

Statistically, Goran Dragic had the best season of his young career last year, setting career bests in minutes, points, free throws, assists, steals and every other category thanks to starting every game he was healthy. He even picked up his play in the second half despite the team falling apart around him.

This season, he is playing at nearly an All-Star level (20.4 points, 6.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game). Dragic has six 30-point games this season as the Suns' #1 scorer, including a career high 34 on only 13 shots on Saturday night.

"Yeah, it wasn't like we played bad defense on any of those shots," said Steph Curry after the game. "They were dagger shots, a big-time player made big-time shots so we'll tip our cap to him."

"He's a guy that, I talked about before the game," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said after the game. "He's got a case to be made that he should be in the All-Star Game - the way he's playing. He's making great decisions out there, whether it be scoring for himself or making plays and he made it tough on our defense."

P.J. Tucker is another who had a career year last season in every category, thanks to getting the minutes he earned through hard work. But he couldn't lead the team to victories, mainly because he wasn't an offensive force. Ideally, Tucker is that unheralded guy who helps a good team win games.

As proof, Tucker has started all 50 games this season for the 30-20 Suns. He's not an offensive force, or a defensive stopper or rebounder extraordinaire, but he's a little of everything. Last night, he became the first Suns player since Shawn Marion (in 2007) to post 15 points, 15 rebounds and 4 steals in a game. In Suns franchise history, Tucker is joined only by Shawn Marion (10 times), Amare Stoudemire (once) and Charles Barkley (seven times) to accomplish that feat.

"PJ is always a monster. He is such a great guy and player. He is an energy guy. He is going to defend. He is going to rebound. Even when we need the basket, he can score. Most of the time, they put JO on him and he spaced the floor and made a three."

-- Goran Dragic on his teammate for 1.5 seasons, after the win Saturday night.

After those two, the team struggled mightily last season. Markieff Morris is the only other Suns player to make it all the way through last season and remain on the roster this year. His year was utterly forgettable, showing a decline in nearly every category despite being given an opportunity to shine as a young player on a bad team. But this year, Markieff is in the conversation of 'Sixth Man of the Year' with career highs in points (12.5), rebounds (5.8) and shooting percentages in 25 minutes per game off the bench.

Brother Marcus never meshed with the coach (Hunter) and eventually made his way into a 30-game doghouse. He, too, has had a resurgence this season, putting up career highs in points (10.1), rebounds (4.3) and shooting percentages in 22 minutes per game off the bench.

12 who were traded/released


The proof is in the pudding. Last year's team was not the least talented team in the NBA, as many purported. The talent was there.

  • 12 of 16 players are either starting regularly this season or playing key rotation roles for playoff teams (the next 10, plus Johnson and Marshall)
  • 10 players from last season's squad have played minutes on playoff-positioned teams this season (Dragic, Tucker, Morris, Morris, Dudley, Gortat, Scola, O'Neal, Beasley, Brown).
  • Four of those 10 on playoff teams are regular starters (Dragic, Tucker, Dudley, Gortat) all season long
  • Five of those 10 on playoff teams are regular backups (Morris, Morris, Scola, O'Neal, Beasley)
  • Two of those last five are considered among the best backups in the league (Scola, Markieff Morris)
  • None are All-Stars

This recap should just reinforce what we already knew. Last year's team had plenty of NBA talent, but there was no clear leader, direction or work ethic to get the best out of the players. Last year's team is proof positive that you can't just cobble together any 10 rotation-caliber players and expect them to play well together.

We all knew this. But it's good to see that, despite the terrible season, they have (nearly) all gotten back off the mat and produced at a high level this season.

"We're all happy now."

PHOENIX – Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek called a win over the Golden State Warriors a goofy one because Mark Jackson’s team was without two starting big men, but the Saturday night game was...

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The Suns beat the Warriors in Phoenix with great offensive nights from several players, including Goran Dragic.

Goran Dragic is a star. Tonight, he played like a superstar. But according to the NBA, he's no All-Star.

Goran Dragic scored a career-high 34 points on just 13 shots to power the Suns to a victory against the Warriors, 122-109. His son, Matteo, was at the game to see his father play for the first time ever, and Goran responded by playing arguably the best game of his career.

Here's an unofficial paparazzi shot of Goran's wife and son:


First Half

The Suns came out sharp to begin the game and shot the ball very well in the first period. Unfortunately, so did the Warriors. Both teams finished the first quarter shooting over 50% from the field. Dragic ended the period with 10 points and 2 assists on perfect shooting from the field and the free throw line, while Curry had 6 points and 2 assists. The Dragic vs. Curry matchup had gotten off to a very promising start.

The Suns also took advantage of an undersized Warriors team that was missing David Lee and Andrew Bogut by crashing the boards and establishing their force inside. Phoenix finished the game out-rebounding Golden State 45-34.

The Suns led 63-59 after a high-ocatane first half. The Warriors' hot shooting kept them in the game despite a disadvantage in size, thanks to Harrison Barnes having an uncharacteristically good game off the bench, Klay Thompson's shooting, and of course, Steph Curry's brilliance.

Second Half

Phoenix got off to a good start in the third quarter and briefly took a 14 point lead...which was cut in half in less than a minute:

Golden State cut the Suns 14 point lead in half in 51 seconds.

— Scott Howard (@ScottHoward42) February 9, 2014

The Suns were able to maintain their lead throughout the quarter, however, thanks to strong play from Dragic, Gerald Green and PJ Tucker, and some very smart decision-making from Channing Frye. The Warriors went with Draymond Green at the four spot and Channing took advantage by playing inside much more than usual and finishing some strong moves inside with ease.

The Suns took a 95-90 lead into the final quarter, at which point Goran Dragic already had 21 points and 8 assists while Gerald Green logged 23 points and 5 rebounds. That's 43 points from the starting backcourt in three quarters. Not bad.

The game was a back-and-forth effort throughout much of the fourth quarter and the Warriors cut Phoenix's lead to two points on more than one occasion. The Suns made the right plays when it mattered, however, and were able to distance themselves late in the quarter thanks to Goran Dragic's brilliance.

The Dragon had 13 points in the fourth quarter tonight and was simply unstoppable. The put the Warriors away at the end of the game with a series of shots and finished the game with 34 points and 10 assists on 10-13 shooting from the field, 6-7 from three and 8-10 from the charity stripe. 34 points on 13 shots is just stupid good.

Meanwhile, Steph Curry finished the game with 28 points and 9 assists on 10-20 shooting from the field. However, he was just 3-10 from the three point line and went scoreless in the final period.

Year of The Dragon

Goran Dragic was nothing short of amazing tonight. The level of efficiency he displayed tonight is incredibly rare, and didn't go unnoticed:

#StatLineOfTheNight goes to Goran Dragic, whose career-high 34p + 10a, 2r, & 2s led the Suns to an impressive 122-109 win over the Warriors

— (@nbastats) February 9, 2014

Dragic having a Dragic kinda night RT @juliephayer: Dragic having a Steph Curry kinda night

— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) February 9, 2014

Here's the case for Dragic as the best non CP3 guard in the NBA:

— The man with the #'s (@ArturoGalletti) February 9, 2014

Dragic...FROM THE PARKING LOT. Career-high for Dragic with 34 points. That man is a star.

— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) February 9, 2014

I think this picture is a pretty appropriate representation of what Goran Dragic looked like tonight:

— Sreekar (@sreekyshooter) February 9, 2014

Goran Dragic with a career high 34 points on THIRTEEN shots. And one giant middle finger to the All-Star game.

— BrightSideoftheSun (@BrightSideSun) February 9, 2014

Non-Dragon Players of the Night

  • PJ Tucker: Tucker was huge against the Warriors' undermanned front-court, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Yes, that's a 6'5" player grabbing 15 boards.
  • Gerald Green: Green scored in a variety of ways tonight and ended the game with 25 points and 5 rebounds on 10-15 shooting from the field. He only shot four three-pointers (hit two of them) and spread his offense around very well tonight. Dragic and Green combined for 59 points, easily outscoring Golden State's "Splash Brothers," who had 45 points.
  • Marcus Morris: The Morris twins entered the game together in the first quarter and it was immediately evident which of the two was in store for the better night. Marcus scored on his first touch, while Markieff passed to an invisible teammate and turned it over. While the latter struggled after a recent string of strong games, Marcus was the Suns' best player off the night, with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
  • Channing Frye: Frye had a decent game statistically, finishing with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assits on 6-13 shooting. However, only three of those 13 shot attempts were from the three-point line, as he really made a conscious effort to take the ball in the paint against a Lee and Bogut-less Golden State squad. It's easy to forget that Frye played significantly in the post when he was in college and in his first couple years in the NBA, but he reminded us tonight.
  • Steph Curry & Harrison Barnes: Curry and Barnes were Golden State's best performers tonight. Curry finished with 28 points but was visibly gassed at the end of the game. Meanwhile, Barnes, who has been struggling in his sophomore year (shooting under 41% from the field on the season), had his best game since December.

All in all, this was a much-needed win for a Suns team that had lost two straight. Phoenix now sits at the 6th spot in the West, while Golden State is tied with Dallas for 7th. Huge win tonight, with an MVP-level performance from Goran Dragic.

But he's not an All-Star.

PHOENIX — For another example of why the Suns have overachieved this season, head to the third quarter of the Phoenix Suns’ 122-109 win against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The...

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PHOENIX — It’s getting to that point in the season where labeling these intra-conference matchups aren’t just a ploy by making something more than it is. The Phoenix Suns seem...

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