I know what you're thinking. Why would I want to bring back Jeff Hornacek when I have my choice of all-time greats such as William Bedford and Elliot Perry (who rates very favorably in the nickname category). Well... even Tom Gugliotta couldn't push this team back into playoff contention so I'm just going to have fun.
Obviously there are concerns with this line of thinking. If prime Hornacek realizes he is being coached by current Hornacek there could be disastrous ramifications with respect to the space-time continuum. That's why I have devised an ingenuous stratagem to forestall this type of revelation. We will simply have coach Hornacek wear a mask. Foolproof. After all, Superman just needed a pair of glasses to keep everyone in the dark. This should work twice as well!
The whole name thing might be a hitch too, so we will simply call coach Hornacek... coach Honracek. Problem solved.
Besides the hilarity of this situation, there are even basketball related issues that make this somewhat make sense. Hornacek was a pretty outstanding player in his own right. Was he Charles Barkley? No. Was he Steve Nash? No. But dude could still ball.
Hornacek was an all-star in his last season playing for the Suns in 1992. Deservedly so, considering he was a 20/5/5/2 player. Not exactly an easy feat. He did this on remarkably efficient shooting from the field (.512) and from three (.439). This was indicative of a high standard of offensive excellence throughout his career. Although he never accomplished the feat of a 50/40/90 season, he came as close as .003 off in free throw shooting (.897) in the 1990-91 season. He was literally one missed free throw away.
He actually had several narrow misses, as one might expect since his career numbers are close to the mark - .496/.403/.877. Jeff would even fit the mold of the Suns new system, as he fit the mold of a point two guard during his career.
Then there are intangibles. Hornacek played the game the right way and carved out a career based on work ethic. Talent aside, who would you rather have mentoring the young players on this team... Charles Barkley or Jeff Hornacek? Obviously the luminaries in the FO feel that Hornacek (Honracek) the coach is capable of this task, so it seems like he would also fill the role as a player and teammate.
And who would be more qualified to help run Jeff's new system than himself? He knows all about pushing the ball and would help make this team more exciting while the rebuild is still in full swing.
My entertaining (at least for me) diversion aside, this Suns team as currently constructed would be horribly mismatched with a star in his prime... at least any the Suns have had. All it would do is let the team fight for a low playoff spot. That's about it. If we play this game again in a few years it will likely be much more satisfying. Something along the lines of acquire some good young talent first and then sprinkle in a veteran star.
Or we could always just use Hornacek as trade bait to fleece some other team out of an MVP talent.
Or maybe we'd just be better off with Socks and stick to the top five pick in the draft approach.
As the Pacific Division Previews continue here on Bright Side of the Sun we take a look all the teams the Phoenix Suns will be competing with this season.
With Greg Wissinger we talk about the lottery bound Sacramento Kings and the Championship contending Los Angeles Clippers with Steve Perrin.
Then there are the Golden State Warriors who are somewhere in-between those two teams, but clearly closer to the Clippers than the Kings or Suns. Last season the Warriors were the kids that normally sit at the kiddie table, but forced there way up to the adult table. They brought their milk and Power Rangers Plate along with them the, surprising everyone, proved that they sort of belonged there...
What is next for the Warriors as they add some key pieces and basically bring the entire band back together for a run in a very deep, competitive Western Conference?
That question and more are answered thanks to Golden State of Mind's Nate Parham who joined me in previewing the Warriors this season. How does he feel about the potential of Stephen Curry? Do they like our leftovers in Jermaine O'Neal and Lindsey Hunter?
At about the 29 minute mark we discuss the Phoenix Mercury and the entire WNBA Playoff out-look this year.
Click here to listen: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 38 w/Nate Parham
As we all know, the Phoenix Suns are about to enter a season in which they are projected to accumulate the worst record in the Western Conference. This is by necessity because there is not one All-Star on the roster, so the Suns need to target the 2014 NBA Draft (in which they currently have up to 3 first round picks) for that next All-Star.
To borrow a phrase from Bright Side friend Amin Elhassan, Steve Nash (circa-2004) ain't walking through that door. Neither is 2005's Amare Stoudemire. Nor 2006's Shawn Marion. Or 1993's Charles Barkley, or 1992's Jeff Hornacek or any other former All-Star once employed by the Suns.
But what if they could?
SG: Bledsoe/Dragic, Archie Goodwin - Grade C
There's not a "plus" player in the lineup, or even one "plus" position. Not one guy is a sure-fire future All-Star. This lineup may be more exciting than the 25-57 group that played a year ago. They might hustle more. They might fight the better fight. But they are still woefully short of top-end talent in a league that historically demands 2 top-end talents to make the strong playoff run.
But is there a single, former Phoenix Sun who could step in and turn this franchise around RIGHT NOW?
Is there a guy who could turn back the clock to the highest point of his athletic career, and just by his presence turn this team into a contender?
it would have to be a true difference-maker. A player who can pick up a young team and carry them to the promised land.
That, to me, excludes former All-Star Suns as Charles Barkley and Walter Davis, neither of whom made a huge difference when placed on an average team. Charles Barkley demanded his way out of Philadelphia, while Walter Davis just didn't have the fortitude to carry a franchise on his back.
And, if you look at the roster as currently constructed, bringing back a 28-year old Steve Nash could simply bench the only strength on this current team. Nash's presence would negate the only value on this roster - Dragic and Bledsoe. Would it be worth setting the Suns back on the rest of the roster just to bring in the maestro at his peak? There's no Amare to run the pick and roll. There's no Raja to defend the other team's best player and hit the open 3s.
This player would have to be someone who could change the fortunes of an entire team. Someone who could own the ball, create for themselves and - directly or indirectly - make life a lot easier for the rest of their teammates.
What former Suns player could pick up THIS roster and make it a contender?
Check out the Suns all-time best season leaders here.
It's your turn, Bright Siders.
Imagine a scenario where you could take any one of those guys, put them in their PRIME, and drop them on the roster.
Which one would have the greatest impact? Which one would turn the franchise's future into a hot, boiling ball of sunlight?
Pick from the list and add your reasoning below. Or, add your own player not already listed. The only rule is that it must be someone who once played for the Suns and that you must give the reason you think THAT player will make the biggest difference.
We all know this is sort of an incondite roster... at least I hope we all know that. But it is transmutable and will soon undergo a metamorphism into something of much more illustrious grandeur (hopefully). The purple palingenesis peeps.
But for now... our team sucks out loud. Fact.
Goran Dragic is #88 and Bledsoe is #95. That's all we have at the top of the league, and deservedly so.
Actually, I think this is a little bit of a slight to Goran. Point guard is probably the most talented position in the NBA and if he's top 15-20 there he should be in the 70's... For those of you who remember the 70's, not so terrible, right? He has a skill package that projects well, and now that he is entering his prime I see some room for improvement. If he can be 80% of the player that finished last season he could even crack top 50.
Eric Bledsoe, on the other hand, gets most of his props based on potential and what the "gurus" think he might be capable of next season. Yes, he has top 100 talent (undoubtedly), but will he realize his potential? Throw a dart. I don't know. Sometimes nurture beats nature and we still don't know how "fertile" our soil will be this season. I'm guessing that the Suns might be able to grow something, though, now that they've tilled the land.
Conspicuously absent from the top 100? One Marcin Gortat. I think the consensus is that he benefited from playing in a Steve Nash system (think Tim Thomas) and isn't more than a below average starting center. Really, can you think of how many games he changed through his indomitable force last year? Right. Add in that he's been given the label of being a malcontent, at least to some degree, and he's become a player that just isn't that coveted. Please McMiracle, get to stepping on moving him...
Although the Suns fail at the top 100, they succeed in epic fashion in the bottom 100 according to ESPN's #NBARank... and they already ditched
a horribly misguided player Michael Beasley. That's how the Suns roll. In fact, FOUR of the Suns' recent acquisitions (that's a neutral term right?) are in the bottom 107. Like I said, incodite roster. Malcolm Lee (#396... Can you believe his ranking went up?), Miles Plumlee (#404), Ish Smith (#445), and Kravtsov (#453) all hit rock bottom in the league. At least they won't be demanding minutes next season.
Still to come are the middle guys. Where will the Morrii fall? Gerald Green? Archie Goodwin and Shannon Brown are still to be found - very soon I expect. And then there's wasnt-even-an-NBA-player-12-months-ago P.J. Tucker.
Inquiring minds want to know... just how bad it will get before it gets better.