PHOENIX — When speculating the Suns’ final cuts before the Marcin Gortat trade, the mere possibility of said trade made center Viacheslav Kravtsov a player Phoenix was unlikely to cut....

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"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will be shown Thursday, October 31st on ABC at 8:00 ET. The classic Halloween special based on the Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles M. Schultz, first aired in 1966 - predating the Phoenix Suns by two years. If you haven't seen this, I encourage you to do so... it's iconic American culture.

But what exactly does this have to do with the Phoenix Suns?

Well, as Linus would say, "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the tanking/rebuilding strategy Great Pumpkin."

The Great Pumpkin is essentially a Santa Claus like figure that Linus believes in and waits for at a pumpkin patch on Halloween. Shockingly, the Great Pumpkin is a no show. *Editor's note - The Great Pumpkin is in no way related to a Pumpkin Clause in a contract and neither exists.

But Linus's belief in the Great Pumpkin symbolizes an unflappable conviction in an ideology even when it may not be popular with the opinion of the majority. Linus, I believe, is a tanker. And Linus and I are cohorts.

There has been much discussion on the concept of tanking relative to the Phoenix Suns over the last few seasons. The word has become trite from overuse and at the same time is still nebulous in that people interpret its meaning in different ways. While the simplest definition to some may be "losing on purpose", it's just not that simplistic. By this logic a team can never take a step back to take two forward. A team can never lose the battle to win the war.

A mantra that a team should do anything and everything to win as much as possible and avoid the pitfalls of losing was prevailing (from my perspective) on this site in the not so distant past. Many told precautionary tales that once a team bottoms out it's easy for them to stay that way for a long time. The culture deteriorates. The fans become apathetic. Losing breeds losing. It becomes a vicious, unavoidable cycle. But now, the Suns have been blown to smithereens and people are pleased as punch. Is it possible many of them have been proselytized into sitting with Linus and me in the pumpkin patch?

Just as tanking is a multifaceted concept, rebuilding is a polysemous word and the process can take many different forms. In fact, what some people call tanking I call rebuilding. I don't see the terms as mutually exclusive.

I have supported this rebuild (that's what I see happening here) since the time I was pining for it long before it commenced. And now, with the reigns of the Suns changing hands from oft-maligned Lance "shooting" Blanks to Ryan McGettingitDonough, it appears that I am in the majority. While the team was rolling out its "Ignite the Future" theme Ryan was busy igniting the fuse to fulminate what was left of "Next Starts Now." All that remains in the wake of this carnage are a scattering of young assets, a slew of first round draft picks and a focus on the future past this season.

The Suns have made it completely transparent where they currently stand in terms of trying to win as many games as possible while transitioning between eras vs. stripping the carcass down to it's skeleton. So how exactly have the Suns went about vindicating team Linus in preparation for the 2013-14 season?

April 22, 2013 - Fired GM Lance Blanks.

The first, and predominant, domino of the off-season. After the quagmire of the last two seasons, this decision was not only refreshing, but imperative to establishing a clear new direction.

May 7, 2013 - Hired Ryan McDonough as new general manager.

This hiring was universally well received as McDonough was viewed as somewhat of a prodigy and his ambit in his new role has been far reaching. Ryan has been playing a game of speed chess since his introductory news conference in his attempts to reshape the roster in his vision.

May 26, 2013 - Hired Jeff Hornacek as new head coach.

The Suns decided to part ways with Alvin Gentry at the midpoint of last season as he was viewed as more of a veteran friendly coach and this team was going in a different direction. The situation was botched, but the reasoning was sound. Enter interim Lindsey Hunter armed with his questionable qualifications draped in ulterior motives. Alas, the affable Hunter and his throwing players under the bus philosophy was ephemeral and his bid to secure the full time coaching gig failed. Gentry was the wrong coach for this team. Hunter was the wrong coach for any team. Hornacek has a chance to be the right guy if he can get the players to adopt his nature.

June 27, 2013 - Drafted Alex Len with 5th overall pick. Drafted Nemanja Nedovic with 30th overall pick and traded him to Golden St. Warriors for Archie Goodwin (29th overall pick) and Malcolm Lee. Drafted Alex Oriakhi 57th overall.

In lots of cases, a team bad enough to finish with the fourth worst record in the NBA is looking for instant help from their lottery selection. Not so with the Suns. Alex Len appears to be behind 25 year old Miles Plumlee, he of 55 minutes of NBA experience, and may be fighting for playing time with the incomparable Slava at the beginning of the season. These picks are win later moves, as the precocious duo of Len (20) and Goodwin (19) may not crack the top eight in minutes played this season. Although the Suns former incredible vanishing GM deserved his share of derision, he was at in the vicinity of the helm when the Suns traded with the LA Lakers for the draft pick that eventually became Goodwin. But since all accounts report that Sarver himself gave the final blessing on that deal, I'll dole out the credit to him.

June 29, 2013 - Waived Hamed Haddadi.

A minor move, but a cap space move. Only 200K of Hamed's $1.4 million was guaranteed, netting the Suns $1.2 million. Flexibility moving forward has been of paramount importance under the Suns' new management.

July 10, 2013 - Jared Dudley traded to LA Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. Suns send 2014 second round draft pick (via Toronto) to Milwaukee Bucks.

This began the real cataclysm, but this, viewed independently, wasn't necessarily a step back move. It would be easy to argue that this actually improved the Suns immediately since they just added two potential starters at the expense of one. It was also a building block towards the future, as Bledsoe became the team's best young prospect who could be expected to contribute immediately.

July 27, 2013 - Luis Scola traded to Indiana Pacers for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and top 14 protected 2014 first round draft pick.

Although this was widely viewed as a talent dump for future asset move, it may not be that clear cut. While Scola's presence and production will be hard to duplicate, the incoming tandem have a chance to be rotation players this season. So while this move still apparently makes the Suns worse, it doesn't appear to be a starter for warm bodies swap. Of course the crown jewel is still viewed as the incoming pick, but is it impossible to conceive that Plumlee may end up being better than the player that pick eventually becomes?

August 29, 2013 - Caron Butler traded to Milwaukee Bucks for Viacheslav "Slava" Kravtsov, Ish Smith and $5.6 million of cap space.

This was a talent dump. Butler was incongruous with the team's direction and fostering good will with player relations was a boon in addition to the $5.6 million in cap space this move created. Slava and Ish do seem to fit the description of barely warm bodies, though, so trading a potential starter for them had the effect of making the team instantly worse.

September 3, 2013 - Waived Michael Beasley.

A necessary end to a failed experiment.

October 25, 2013 - Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee traded to Washington Wizards for Emeka Okafor and top 12 protected 2014 first round draft pick.

More attrition. The Suns traded a quality starting center for the expiring contact of a player with a toe tag. Basically the Suns traded Marcin for the Wizards pick. The Suns were able to get Washington to take back some contracts, though. The deal would have worked financially with less going out from the Suns. More small victories.  Not only do the Suns preserve some cap space after this deal, but (by virtue of Marshall's egress) it appears that Smith will now make the team... keeping alive my hopes of hearing Al McCoy proclaim, "Ish with the swish."

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Ultimately the Suns maelstrom of activity has culminated in the exit of three of their top four rotation players from last season for unproven, low ceiling talent and draft picks. The totality of the moves make the Suns worse now while arming the team with assets to become better in the coming years.

Which leaves us with the Phoenix Suns Charlie Brown still trying to finally win kick that damn championship football.

Charlie_brown_suns_ii_medium

And despite Lucy's uncanny ability to stultify him and stifle his quest, Charlie Brown still hasn't given up.

Which leads me back to the Great Pumpkin. Charlie Brown is still trying to kick that football just like Linus is still sitting out in that pumpkin patch. The Great Pumpkin story can symbolize this as well. It is a story of belief and hope, not just divisiveness over ideology. Don't we all have our Great Pumpkins as far as this goes? Don't we all have faith in something?

So maybe the Great Pumpkin analogy is most fitting to the renascent belief that the Suns are back on track under the watch of new GM Ryan McDonough. And as the new season kicks off in just a few days there are a lot more of us out in that pumpkin patch. Considering the paradigm shift from last season's woes to the present day optimism it certainly seems like a Halloween McMiracle.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Who is the most important person in the franchise for the 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns? We count down 25-1 to figure out just that...

In the summer the most important thing for NBA fans is simple; Rankings.

Not singling out the mother-ship, because all major outlets do these, but ESPN.com had their yearly rankings going 500-1 previewing the NBA by having a panel of experts rank every player in the NBA and then put together a composite. Two things from the rankings stood out as obvious. One, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA and 26 teams saw a player named before the Suns had their first in the 60's with Eric Bledsoe.

There were 26 teams that had a player named before the Phoenix Suns heard their best players name called. Teams including Sacramento, Toronto, Boston, Dallas, and Charlotte. Charlotte.

Of those 26 teams there were 19 that had at least two players ranked ahead of Bledsoe and the Suns. This all means very little considering each individual franchise goes on their own path to get to the same ultimate goal. There are a few teams that are one or two players ahead of the Suns at this point in the game. The organization as a whole is realistic. They want to compete, progress as a team, and develop the type of team that will eventually be at the adult table (more on that here) making waves in the playoffs again.

For #SUNSRANK as we are dubbing this five part series the entire BSOTS staff ranked what we considered the most important 25 figures in the organization 1-25 to create a composite.

This is 100% original and in no way is copying (or mocking) other rankings. Seriously.

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25-21 << 20-16 << 15-11 << 10-6 << 5-1

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No. 25: James Nunnally (23.0)

Profile: 6-7 205 lbs. Small Forward -- Rookie UC Santa Barbara

Stats: (Pre-Season) In 10.3 MPG 3.0 PPG 1.3 APG 1.3 RPG 37.5% FG 33.3% 3PT (2-6)

Interesting Fact: Avid bowler.

Profile: Nunnally has earned the dubious distinction of finishing dead last in this diversion. Somewhat surprising considering he's scored a grand total of nine points through five preseason games. We could dress it up with a litotes and assert that isn't terrible in the least considering he at least made it into the conversation, but it's still last and it's still the Suns. At 23 (which, coincidentally, is where I ranked him - I cleverly used alphabetical order of the first names of the final five... Dionte, Ish, James, Malcolm and Viacheslav... due to their relatively similar "value") years of age Nunnally will likely still have opportunities to make a roster at some point if he doesn't do so here... After all there's always Philadelphia, right? - Jim Coughenour

Important Question: Where will he end up playing this season? I actually had this typed before the news he was waived. It was funnier then...

(Editors Note: Nunnally was waived by the team Thursday, October 24th)

No. 24: Ish Smith (23.0)

Profile: 6-0 175 lbs. Point Guard -- Fourth Year Wake Forest

Stats: (Pre-Season) in 12.4 MPG 2.8 PPG 2.5 APG 1.8 RPG (0 total steals) 27.8% FG 20.0% 3PT (1-5)

Interesting Fact: Brother-in-Law is a former Deacon, played for the Demon Deacons, and graduated with a degree in "religion."

Analysis: The Suns ended up with Ish Smith as part of the Caron Butler trade that saved the Suns over $6 million in salary. Smith was never a need for a team with an already crowded back-court, but they gave him a shot in preseason just to see what they had. Unfortunately, it seems as though Ish is destined to be cut as he doesn't seem to bring anything unique to the team. The only way he may stay is if the Suns find themselves in need of a another point guard if they happen to trade Marshall, but even then, the odds aren't in his favor. - Sean Sullivan

Important Question: Is an undrafted Ish Smith a better option than 2012 lottery pick Kendall Marshall?

No. 23: Viacheslav Kravtsov (Slava) (22.0)


Profile: 6-11 254 lbs. Center -- Second Year Ukraine

Stats: (Pre-Season) In 8.4 MPG 3.4 PPG 1.8 RPG 0.4 BPG 100.0% FG (6-6)

Interesting Fact: As basically a nod to the tough spelling of his name, Slava was referred to by some as "Ctrl+V" or "Ktrl+V" because his name is a candidate to be copied-and-pasted by people consistently.

Analysis: "Slava," as his teammates and coaches call him has been a quiet, steady presence in the paint for the team. He is not a flashy player or a prospect with a high ceiling, but he is a serviceable big man that plays the center the way it used to be played. If the team had not drafted Alex Len or made a move for Miles Plumlee then Slava would be higher up on this list as a rotation player. During the pre-season Slava and Plumlee have basically been auditioning against each other for the third big man slot on the roster and other than shooting the ball (dunking the ball) efficiently, Plumlee has won this battle... - Kristofer Habbas

Important Question: What does Slava do well that his peers at the center position do not?

No. 22: Malcolm Lee (21.0)

Profile: 6-5 200 lbs. Combo Guard -- Third Year UCLA

Stats: (Pre-Season) N/A

Interesting Fact: Lee's sister is an assistant women's basketball coach for the Oregon Ducks and was with the Army Knights before, Shandrika Lee-Gerch.

Analysis: Malcolm Lee has yet to suit up for the Phoenix Suns after the Warriors forced Phoenix to take him off their hands when the teams swapped picks so that the Suns could draft Archie Goodwin. He was drafted out of UCLA in the second round a couple years ago and has appeared in just 37 games and scored just 140 points in two seasons. Lee flashed some defensive potential in Minnesota as a combo-guard, but his career has been derailed by injuries and he still hasn't healthy. I wish him well as he continues his recovery and looks for a new team. - Jacob Padilla

Important Question: How many games will Lee play this year, over/under 10.5?

No. 21: Dionte Christmas (21.0)

Profile: 6-5 205 lbs. Shooting Guard -- Rookie Temple

Stats: (Pre-Season) In 9.8 MPG 4.5 PPG 1.3 APG 1.3 RPG 50% FG 50% 3PT

Interesting Fact: Out-dueled James Harden in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, despite the loss, 29-9 in Christmas' last college game and Harden's second to last. Things have gone different for each since then, but Christmas has that to hang his hat on.

Analysis: Despite Christmas' respect for GM Ryan McDonough, the only way he makes this roster is if the Suns make a many-for-one trade right before cut-down day and he's left standing. It's too bad, since Christmas is PERFECT for promotional stuff in December. The most likely outcome is that Christmas is one of the Suns' late cuts and is eligible to be drafted by the Suns' D-League team to allow the Suns to keep Christmas' rights this season for a later call-up. Christmas can shoot the rock as an instant offense off the bench, but he just can't beat out the other guys at that position. It's a logjam that Christmas loses. -- Dave King

Important Question: Can a guy named Christmas play on Christmas?

Come back tomorrow for 20-16 in the #SUNSRANK series and follow along on Twitter!

Ohhh....

Each ranking will also include one write-in ballot from the writers. We have five tremendous write-in's starting with Dave's:

Write-In Ballot: Dancing Dad's and Grannies (Dave)

Profile: A group of 15-20 fathers and 15-20 grandmothers that are so passionate about the art of dance that they come to most Phoenix Suns home games to entertain. And entertain they shall with an array of moves that are like the love child of Master P (see dancing with the stars the two minute mark should do) and a high school dance breaking into an impromptu Electric Slide with contemporary music playing.

Stats: Twenty old men dancing and no hamstrings pulled. Success.

Interesting Fact: They are actually the best dance team in the NBA.

Analysis: I've got the Gorilla and Suns Dancers ranked in the top ten, and I rank the Dancing Dads/Grannies higher than half the Suns current roster. The Suns need to entertain their fans at the highest level possible this season, and these crazy dancers, along with the other squads, can only help the cause. In full disclosure, I don't overrate all the Suns entertainment. The blow-up dolls (Hairy and Harrison) are way down the list, and Ced Ceballos' replacement Tom Zenner didn't even make it. -- Dave King

Important Question: Can the Suns keep the fans interested during timeouts?

With a heavy heart, we bid adieu to the Phoenix Suns best center since Shaquille O'Neal made the All-Star team in 2009. If you count more than one year, Gortat was the Suns best multi-season center since the turn of the century and one of the best centers of all-time for the franchise.

To wit (among forward/centers, NOT including Amare Stoudemire):

  • 4th most games started at Center in Suns history - 139 (leader: Mark West, 349)
  • 11th most overall games at Center - 182 (Alvan Adams, 988)
  • MOST rebounds per game among Suns centers who started at least 1 game - 9.3
  • 5th in points per game at Center - 13.3 (Shaquille O'Neal, 16.5)
  • 5th in field goal % among Suns centers who played more than 21 games - 54.7% (Steven Hunter, 61.4%)
  • 4th most Win Shares among Suns centers - 16.1 (Alvan Adams, 73.5)

In video

In quotes

"You know what, I ain't watching ESPN anymore. I ain't watching ESPN unless there's a game. When the Miami Heat had this losing streak, people started talking less about them, and that was the right time to start talking about the different teams who are really good like the Boston Celtics, San Antonio. Now you've just got to hope that this losing streak's going to start today." -- on ESPN's coverage of the Miami Heat, December 23, 2010

"It's just a little bit frustrating when you come in the locker room and people are talking about the offense. That's not the way you're going to win NBA games. I don't know if it's just me, or maybe I'm just different, but I came from a team where everybody's competing and trying to do the stuff that coach is saying. We're just totally changing our rotations, changing our stuff that we set before the game. We're not playing hard enough and I've just got to tell you, there's a lot, a lot of work in front of us. The positive thing is? It can't be worse." -- December 30, 2010 (two weeks after trade)

"I'm trying to get some rebounds and stops, but unfortunately there's not too many opportunities for me to rebound because the team is scoring 120-something points. It's just frustrating; frustrating as hell. I'm not going to lie." -- December 30, 2010 (again, just two weeks after the trade)

"I always had the feeling Perkins was still mentally fighting Dwight, even when Dwight would come out of the game. He's a physical guy who won't let anything go. He's like a little dog that will never let go of you. They'll keep barking and running around you. You keep throwing the little ball, and they keep bringing it back. He'll grab a hold of your leg and never let go. He keeps fighting. At some point, you say, ‘Dude, haven't you had enough?' Honestly, that's character, and I respect that."-- on Kendrick Perkins, January 28, 2011

"People talk about him like he's some sort of joker, but in my second year, he asked me how my dad was doing. It was impressive to me that a guy like Shaquille O'Neal knew about my dad. Since then, I always had fun playing against him. I took a couple of elbows, too!"-- on Shaquille O'Neal, January 28, 2011

"Rajon Rondo is a great point guard, but he isn't better than Steve [Nash]. As many passes as he gave me today I think I had so many passes the entire season a couple years ago. It's just a great feeling to play with him." -- January 31, 2011

"I know what frustrates this guy. I know what moves he likes to do. So I would say I have a little advantage over the rest of the guys in the league. But still, (at the) end of the day, it's still about having big balls and holding your ground when the guy's trying to kick your ass. Seriously, man. It's not easy when you have a 280-pound guy with a smile on his face trying to crush your face. You've got to be tough, I'm telling you right now. His elbows are hard (as) rocks." -- on Dwight Howard, March 12, 2011

"This guy (Lopez) had such a big chance, such a big opportunity, to play in the best league. When I was Orlando, playing behind Dwight (Howard), I was praying to get a chance to play and he (Lopez) has had this chance for two years and he didn't take. So I thought, when you don't want it, there will be 50 persons behind you, waiting to take this chance, and then I came by and I took (it). Sorry, that's business, that's life." -- on Robin Lopez, July 2011

"I would like to make the playoffs. That is the most important thing. Personally, I would just like to be better than last year. I would like to make another step forward and reach that point of being a double-double guy and set a couple small records." -- December 6, 2011

"I just have to be a simple basketball player. Try and dunk the ball, not try to be a finesse player, you know, finish with the hooks, finish with the backboard. Just got to go in and dunk the basketball, that's it. Just be the simple basketball player." -- April 12, 2012

"Basically, I am going to try and prove that I can play without him. There was a lot of talk in the offseason about how I'm going to play and how I'm going to handle the whole situation without him. I believe I'm an experienced player already. I've been in the league a few years by now, and I have other point guards. I have Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall. I have great passers. I'm quite sure I'll be fine." -- on not needing Steve Nash, October 1, 2012

"I'm 100 percent sure I've become a better player and hopefully I show it this season. I'm in incredible shape. I'm definitely missing a few pounds because I didn't have enough time to get in the weight room. But we've got the new nickname 'Polish Gazelle.' Trust me, I can outrun everybody, even point guards." -- October 6, 2012

"Unfortunately, I don't think I'm even an option for Gentry. He doesn't even take me into consideration. The situation is critical. We're playing the same thing we've been playing last year, but the truth is we have a completely different set of players. I don't think it really works." -- on being frustrated, November 19, 2012

"I miss Steve. I'm not going to deny it. I do miss him, I miss him a lot. I didn't believe it was going to be like that this year. Last year when we were finishing the season and people were talking about Steve leaving the team, I was like 'at the end of the day, if he leaves, I'll be fine anyway'. Well, it's different." -- on missing Steve Nash, January 30, 2013

"I think we need some changes. We need some serious conversations. First of all, I'm going to look at myself. Hopefully the management and personnel guys will do the right thing. We are missing character. We are missing strong minds in the team. We are just weak mentally. I would say that we need more talent, more athletic energetic guys, people who want to compete and fight. That's the most important thing." -- end of 2012-13 season, April 23, 2013

"I want to leave this country [Slovenia] with a medal. If we get it, I can tell you right now, I am going be missing training camp in the NBA. I am going to be partying for three weeks right after the tournament!" -- over in Slovenia for Eurobasket, September 3, 2013

"We all know what's going to happen. It's a business. I totally understand that. I totally understand the situation. There's no hard feelings. I will try to do everything that's necessary to win basketball games, and whatever happens happens. I'm grateful for everything I had in this team." -- September 30, 2013

"We all fighting for bread, we all fighting for milk. I'm not letting anybody take my job. I'm gonna come here, and I'm gonna fight these guys just like I'm fighting everybody else. I'm gonna do whatever I can to stay in this league, and on this team, as long as possible." -- September 30, 2013

As we creep closer and closer into to the Top 10 most important people in the Phoenix Suns franchise there are no more trades, signings, or moves that can shake-up what we, the Bright Side Staff, have delegated as the most crucial elements to the teams success.

Sometimes people (or players) are not put in the best position to be successful. That was the case for the team last year from the players to the front office.

This year everything is starting to fall into place and the pieces are fitting. The team has an owner, a president, a general manager, a coach, and players that all know their role with the team. One is not trying to be the other and the others are doing their jobs, and doing them well.

Before we head into the Top 10 there are a few names to check off of the list:

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25-21 << 20-16 << 15-11 << 10-6 << 5-1

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No. 15: Marcus Morris (14.0)

Profile: 6-9 235 lbs. Forward -- Third Year Kansas

Stats: (Pre-Season) In 18.1 MPG 6.7 PPG 3.3 RPG 1.3 APG 42.9% FG 42.9% 3PT (9/21)

Interesting Fact: Marcus is the fifth twin brother to play for the Suns

Analysis: I had Mook ranked as the 9th player on my list, behind Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, Marcin Gortat, Archie Goodwin, Channing Frye and his twin brother Markieff. I think that's pretty fair, although it's a toss-up with his brother. The other seven players ahead of him are either better now or will be more important to the team moving forward. Marcus has shown some potential as a corner 3-ball shooter, but his slow feet and spotty shot-selection means he still has a ways to go before becoming a regular rotation player and positive contributor. - Jacob Padilla

Important Question: Can Marcus become the third play-maker the team desperately needs?

No. 14: Lon Babby (13.0)

Profile: President of Basketball Operations -- Fourth Year Lehigh

Summer Stats: Fired Lance Blanks, Hired Ryan McDonough, and helped manage perfect game of a summer as the catcher to his general managers pitcher

Interesting Fact: Lon Babby was a defense attorney for John Hinckley Jr., the man who accused of attempting to assassinate Ronald Regan. Then, 30 years later, he defended Michael Beasley, the man accused of impersonating an NBA player.

Analysis: Babby is a numbers guy. He is a relationship guy. He is a people person. Agents, if you didn't know this, are very good talent evaluators for their sport. They are the scouts that found a different avenue to make money in the game they love. That is all relevant for Babby in particular because during his first few years he failed at leveraging his strengths and unfortunately that accentuated his weaknesses. He has an eye for talent that he knows will draw money, but in the role of deciding who will produce on the court for the Suns the past few years he fell short on evaluating the person, not the player, the fit, not the talent. Now he can step to the side and work with General Manager Ryan McDonough on the details, financial impacts, and value of a player. Right where he should have been a few years ago. -- Kris Habbas

Important Question: What kind of moves can the businessman make now that he has the flexibility and the basketball mind he needs?

No. 13: P.J. Tucker (12.0)


Profile: 6-6 224 lbs. Small Forward -- Second Year Texas

Stats: (Pre-Season) In 21.3 MPG 8.1 PPG 4.4 RPG 1.7 SPG 45.8% FG

Interesting Fact: Tucker's first name is Anthony Leon, but "P.J." stands for "Pop's Junior" after his father who was a hard hitting baseball prospect back in his time.

Analysis: Tucker is the embodiment of what hustle and hard work can do for not only the success of player, but a team as well. Tucker is essential in giving this group of young players a role model with a "never say die" attitude, and a shining example of how to play with a chip permanently embedded in your shoulder.  Tucker is a rare breed in the league, a rags-to-riches story of a player who earned his roster spot not on the merit of his talent or draft status, but through earning it consistently through pure effort and dedication.  Although Tucker won't provide the Suns with a game changer this season, I think he is an excellent example for the other young players around him....Which ultimately means more than just wins at this point. - Sean Sullivan

Important Question: Where does get his minutes with Green and Marcus Morris on board?

No. 12: Gorilla (11.0)

Profile: Mascot -- 34th Year The Jungle

Career Stats: Too many trampoline dunks to count...

Interesting Fact: Other than Slamson, an Evangelical Lion, the Suns are the only Pacific Division team with a mascot. Seriously, an Evangelical Lion?

Analysis: I ranked the Gorilla in the top ten, highest of all the staff writers, and I stand by that. While the Suns team loses, they need to keep their Brand strong. And the best way to do that is bring the Gorilla back to prominence. Back in the old days, the hairy SOB was THE timeout entertainment and he made himself a legend as the best mascot in the league. These days, he's getting lost amid the Solar Squad, dancers and Tom Zenner. He still has a role, but it's getting smaller and smaller. Make a comeback, G! Save us from the Zenner! - Dave King

Important Question: Can the Gorilla rise back to the top?

No. 11: Dancers/Hip-Hop Squad (11.0)

Profile: 18 Girls Dancing and 14 People Hopping -- Forever Phoenix

Stats: Dancing and hopping their ways into the hearts of fans for years.

Interesting Fact: One of the dancers, Carin Malm, is a former Miss New Mexico!

Analysis: I actually went on a run of six things, some were write-ins, that will make the games more interesting than (potentially) the Suns on court escapades.  I affectionately labeled this cluster the "making the bloodbaths more entertaining" section.  I actually went 6-11 with these and had the dancers a little bit higher.  Feel free to form whatever opinions you may knowing that other staff writers put them lower.  Music, verve and choreography from cheerful, scantily clad women with team spirit. They work hard and I enjoy it.  Sounds like a symbiotic relationship to me. - Jim Coughenour

Important Question: Do these girls have full medical to cover the depression medication they'll need to take to get through the season?

Come back tomorrow for 10-6 in the #SUNSRANK series and follow along on Twitter!

Ohhh....

Write-In Ballot: Michael Beasley's Empty Locker (Jacob)

Profile: About 6-7 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide, and full of the lifestyle of an NBA player.

Stats: Many memorable quotes, lots of negative energy, and a fair share of post-game meals.

Interesting Fact: The locker is now home to Eric Bledsoe.

Analysis: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Micheal Beasley was one of the worst players in the entire league last year and incredibly frustrating to watch (and play with too I'm sure). He's gone after agreeing to a buy-out (good luck to Miami, as he's their problem now) and that means the Suns made one of the biggest addition by subtraction moves in the NBA this offseason (I ranked it No. 3 on my list). The offense should be more free-flowing and the defense should be more cohesive without Beasley disrupting the Suns with his play on both ends. -- Jacob Padilla

Important Question: Has the stink worn off?

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