Throughout my five seasons running ValleyoftheSuns I have marveled at the fact that teams often take the worst shots with the game on the line in the final seconds of a one-possession game. You could...

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Seriously, I hate lists like this but here we go.

ESPN's latest edition of it's Future Rankings has the Phoenix Suns in 29th position ahead of only the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets. In fact, in his "analysis" ESPN Draft "Expert" Chad Ford says the only thing keeping the Suns from the last and worst position is the "complete and utter disaster known as the Charlotte Bobcats."

Ford also doesn't fail to mention the Suns selling draft picks which last happened about half-a-decade ago under a completely different front office. There's nothing like using ancient and irrelevant history to determine one's future.

Whatever.

It's just another stupid list.

This stupid list is supposed to give insight into how a franchise will fare over the next three seasons based on these categories: Players, Management, Market, Draft, Money.

The Suns, understandably, ranked dead last in the "Players" category. I dare you to find a current NBA roster with less talent. So yeah, the current roster is bad with no All-Star vets and no young players that you could even project as starters.

On the plus sides, the Suns ranked 11th in "Market" and third in "Draft" thanks to their six first-round picks over the next three years.

That all makes sense. There's a lot of draft picks and Phoenix is an above average market but not California, New York or Income Tax-Free Texas. (Although I'd still rather live in Phoenix than Houston or Dallas despite the taxes.)

Where things get more puzzling is the last two categories.

The Suns were ranked 29th in "Management" despite the moves they made this offseason. I suppose you could justify this, since Ryan McDonough is unproven and Lon Babby hasn't exactly impressed the national media Chad Ford. But would you really rate the Suns management behind the mess in Detroit or the complete unknown in Sacramento?

But the worst ranking is "Money" where the Suns come in 25th despite being about $10m under the salary cap this summer and having only about $22m in guaranteed contracts for 2014. More importantly, the ONLY bad contract the Suns have on the books is the ~$9m owed to Michael Beasley. The Suns should have no problem moving guys like Dudley, Frye or Gortat should they have a reason to.

Compare that to the Toronto Raptors (ranked 22nd) who owe about $60m to Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay over the next two seasons. Who's balance sheet would you rather have?

Anyway, we can't let "facts" get in the way with our lists or people like us would just ignore them.

NBA Future Power Rankings: 26-30 - ESPN
The only thing that saves the Suns from dead last in our rankings is the complete and utter disaster known as the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats have been last in every Future Power Rankings we've ever done and don't seem much closer to losing their grip on the bottom spot. But, oh, how the Suns have tried. With bad draft choices, selling draft picks, horrible free-agent decisions and misguided trades, the team has fallen apart over the past few years. The good news? They've probably already hit rock bottom, and with a few rays of hope. The Suns have the No. 5 and No. 30 picks in this year's draft and have a total of six first-round picks in the next three years. They also got a small bump in Management thanks to the hiring of former Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough. But other than that? Not much. With no cornerstones for the Suns to build around, it's going to be grim for a while. The loaded 2014 draft might be their best way out of the mire.

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New Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek always wanted to coach, but never thought that would happen in the NBA.

"My goal was never to be a coach in the NBA," Hornacek said. "I always felt I would coach, but I thought that would be on the college level. I felt that what I'd learned over the years would be too much for high school, but the pro guys... they already know everything, so why would I do that?"

Back in Jeff Hornacek's days, most players went to college all four years and the unstructured AAU ball mentality wasn't as prevalent amongst future NBA stars.

"The view when I played," Hornacek said. "Was when you got to the NBA, it was all about strategy, all about the offense, all about the defensive schemes that you're going to use. Those guys already had the fundamentals."

Not so much anymore. That was the biggest lesson Hornacek took away from his two years on the Utah bench. The team tried to integrate lotto picks Enes Kanter (no college), Derrick Favors (one year), Gordon Hayward (two years) and Alec Burks (two years) into the lineup, but head coach Tyron Corbin repeatedly deferred to his veterans as they pushed for the playoffs.

But even many of the Utah vets came into the league with the same deficiencies. Utah SF Marvin Williams, in the league for eight uninspiring seasons now, only spent a year in college before jumping to the NBA. Nine-year veteran C Al Jefferson had no college, coming straight to the league from high school.

"There's so many pro guys that are one-and-dones," Hornacek said. "Or didn't get the teaching in college on how to play the game, and they don't know a lot of this stuff.

"That's one thing I've learned over the last couple years being on the bench is that you can't assume these guys know some of the stuff we learned back in college because they didn't have the same experience."

Hornacek goes back to his own playing days for inspiration as a playmaker at both the PG and SG positions.

"When I was drafted by the Phoenix Suns and played for John Macleod, I would call a lot of plays," he recalls. "I kind of always knew what everybody was going to do. My advantage as a player was to really see and know what the other players wanted to do and use that to my advantage.

"I feel with guys nowadays I can get a pretty quick idea of where they like the ball, what would put them in the best situation to succeed. Once they get that little taste of success, the trust comes and guys will go to battle for you."

When asked what to do when there's a discrepancy between where the player likes the ball versus where he's actually good with it, Hornacek said it's a group effort between the coaches, the player and the tapes.

"Showing them that when they make bad plays, the effect it has on the team," he replied. "All the best teams I've played on, every guy on that team wanted to do something to make another teammate better."

After watching the Phoenix Suns last season, Hornacek might get a rude awakening with this roster. Interim head coach Lindsey Hunter had that same awakening last spring. When Hunter started in January, he vowed to spend a lot more time teaching them the nuances of team defense and making sure guys were paying attention. Practices became harder and longer. Team leaders expressed guarded appreciation for the tougher environment, admitting that the young guys needed someone to get on them more than the prior regime had done.

But Hunter never got through to many of the guys he was trying to reach. When longer practices didn't work, he punished players by fining them, by taking away their playing time. When that didn't work either, his frustration boiled over and he eventually started calling them out in press conferences.

Quiet, unassuming guys like Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall and Wesley Johnson flourished because they wanted to work hard to get better. But Hunter's tactics failed miserably with tough-minded players who felt they were better than they really were. Those players tuned Hunter out.

Hunter was partially tuned out because he was only the interim coach. He was in a no-win situation, with the losses piling up and the kids thinking more about next season (without him) than this season. There was no chemistry, even when chemist Alvin Gentry was the coach.

And when players tune out the coach, everyone loses. Fans stop buying tickets. The GM gets fired. The coach gets fired. The players ruin their own reputations. Just what did Beasley and the Morri gain from their mini-revolt? Shorter NBA careers, that's what.

Hornacek's success will hinge on whether he has the moxie and the patience to get through to today's NBA youth - whether it be Beasley or the Morri or any other youngsters - who feel they already know everything when they really don't.

"When you see these players," Hornacek says, undeterred. "They may look at you and look like they're not paying attention, but they really do want to learn how to play. They want to improve, they want to get better and get to that top level."

Hornacek spent the last two years watching several lotto picks struggle to play team-first winning basketball, and that has only made him hungrier to be an NBA coach.

"I think it works out perfectly these days because I really enjoy teaching the kids," he says. "I'm inspired to get guys to play team basketball."

With the Suns going through a youth movement of their own, including four players under 25 and six first round draft picks in the next three seasons, his ability to get through to these kids will make or break his NBA career.

If it breaks him, he might just try college after all.

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We will never forget everything Steve Nash did on the basketball court. He was a magician with the ball and gave Suns fans countless memories of supreme excellence. Making Nash's time in Phoenix even more "special", was his reputation as a stellar citizen (albeit a Canadian) who avoided the brushes with the law and other off-court/field scandals that marred so many others.

(Yes, we remember you, Charles Barkley, and the many times you ended up on the police blotter.)

Now, however, there might actually be something to the various rumors and general smelliness surrounding Steve Nash's abrupt divorce which was announced literally within hours of the birth of his son.

Super Steve is back in town and took the stand so he could fight to keep his wife from moving from the Valley to be near his new home in Los Angeles. The ex-wife wants to bring their three kids to California so they can be closer to their daddy. Nash....well, Steve has a different priority:

Former Sun Steve Nash in Phoenix for court hearing
Nash said in court he would like to have his children attend school where he lives, but he also has contended Menrath’s proposal to move to California is about getting child support from him. [emphasis added]

Catch that? Steve Nash, the same guy who talked about picking the Lakers so he could be closer to his kids, doesn't want his ex to move his kids closer to him because he might have to pay child support in California. For some reason, he doesn't have to pay child support with the kids living in Arizona.

Kids close to daddy or pay more in child support. hmmmmm

Nash, it should be noted, has made at least $100m playing basketball and countless millions as a pitch man for Nike and other companies.

So, is Nash just a good daddy who doen't want his ex-wife to get more money out of him or is he just another dirtbag?

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The Coliseum served as the home of the Suns from their inception through the 1991-92 season. It may have resembled a dungeon in some respects, but it was still a great place to watch a basketball game. In the waning years of its capacity as the Suns' home court the Madhouse was involved in the a new brand of exhilarating basketball in the desert. On the heels of a cocaine scandal the Suns had one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NBA history.

After winning just 28 games in the 1987-88 season the renascent Suns rose from the proverbial ashes and let slip the dogs of war to the tune of 55 victories. This team was the original Suns' version of seven seconds or less. Maybe they should historically be donned as six seconds or less, because the 1988-89 team averaged a league leading 118.6 points per game. The inferior imitators led by Steve Nash never averaged more than 110.4 point per game.

The roster of that team included a star studded cast of Suns' greats... and some others who were at least notable for various reasons.

  • Tom Chambers
  • Kevin Johnson
  • Eddie Johnson
  • Dan Majerle
  • Tyrone Corbin
  • Mark West
  • Tim Perry
  • Andrew Lang
  • Steve Kerr
  • Craig Hodges
  • and some guy named Jeff Hornacek...
24 seasons ago. Podcast 24. Coincidence? I think not. The Suns have had a habit of sending away players only to have them return as heroes. Let's hope the new hiring follows form.

This week's edition focuses on the hiring of Jeff Hornacek as the Suns' new head coach, some lottery and draft discussion, as well as some playoff talk.

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