It is that time. It is time for the Top 5 in #SUNSRANK for the 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns. This has been an emotional roller-coaster of a ride that led to the team saying good-bye to some friends.
With all the moves, changes, and new direction that the team is headed in they did one thing that is very similar to last summer. They brought in nine new players. The roster is at 14 total players after waiving James Nunnally with only four players that logged a minute for the Suns last season. For a second straight season this is a brand new, again, with a clear path.
Importance is not created equal and the top five players on this ranking there were three individuals that were a consensus top six. Not quiet a consensus top five, but close.
For the most part the staff was in agreement on who are the "who's who" of the 2013-2014 Suns.
There is no disagreement or alternate opinion. This is definitive. All pre-season rankings that are done with no proof, nothing tangible, and pure opinion are clearly the most relevant analysis of a team or player. This #SUNSRANK is another example of just that. Or just the opposite...
Here is the Top 5!
No. 5: Goran Dragic (6.6)
Profile: 6-3 190 lbs. Point Guard -- Sixth Year Slovenia
Stats: (Pre-Season) In 20.7 MPG 11.5 PPG 4.2 APG 0.67 SPG 58.3% FG
Interesting Fact: The Dragon is in a class with Reggie Miller (25 points) and Sleepy Floyd (29) in terms of fourth quarter scoring in the playoffs. His 23 against San Antonio in 2010 will never be forgotten.
Analysis: I actually had Gogi #17 on my list (#11 not including all the write-ins that Kris made me delete - he can be a cruel taskmaster). Call me a hater, but I just don't see the current players being that important in a season that mostly serves as a vessel to the 2014 lottery. Talent acquisition, player development and trying to squeeze a scintilla of excitement out of a lost season are more important to me than players who very likely have no role in the next competitive version of Suns basketball, which is very likely several seasons away. To me Dragic is more moveable asset than point guard of the future. This is the blown up version of the team. The players aren't supposed to be that important. - Jim Coughenour
Important Question: Will he defer to Bledsoe as the on court leader? Dragic has always struck me as more passive than assertive...
No. 4: Aaron Nelson (5.6)
Profile: Trainer -- 13th Year Iowa State
Stats: Helped keep Steve Nash healthy to a tune of playing 94.8% of regular season and playoff games combined. Nash played in 60.4% of his games with the Lakers last season...
Interesting Fact: Nelson is Head Coach Jeff Hornacek's brother-in-law
Analysis: I personally had Aaron Nelson No. 1 on my list. The Suns' head athletic trainer the only member of the Suns organization that can be called the best in the business with little to no argument otherwise. He's proven how good he and his staff are over the course of the last several years. He rejuvenated/improved the careers of Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal among others, and although the team doesn't have as many old guys as the last few years, that doesn't take away from how good Nelson is at his job. Therefore, on my mostly arbitrary rankings, he takes the top spot. - Jacob Padilla
Important Question: When will Nelson have Channing Frye and Alex Len on the court at the same time?
No. 3: Jeff Hornacek (4.4)
Profile: Head Coach -- Rookie Iowa State
Stats: (Pre-Season and Summer League) 11-3 record and a trip to the first ever Summer League Championship Game
Interesting Fact: The pick that was used to draft Hornacek was traded by the Lakers, Clippers, and Pistons before the Suns decided to keep it. Players involved? Byron Scott, Ricky Pierce and David Thirdkill.
Important Question: Can he reach the young players?
No. 2: Eric Bledsoe (4.2)
Profile: 6-1 195 lbs. Point Guard -- Fourth Year Kentucky
Stats: (Pre-Season) In 26.0 MPG 13.0 PPG 5.9 APG 2.71 SPG 45.8% FG
Interesting Fact: Bledsoe averaged as many blocks per 36 minutes as Markieff Morris last year. Markieff is nine inches taller and plays power forward.
Analysis: I ranked Bledsoe lowest on the SunsRANK simply because I listed McDonough, Aaron Nelson, the Gorilla, Al McCoy and Jeff Hornacek above him on the totem pole. This year is about building the next great Suns team, and that effort must include the Brand and Culture of the Suns even more than the current player roster. If everyone, including Bledsoe, is available in the right trade, then they can't be more important than the Suns brand. Bledsoe has the chance to be a great all-around player, but rarely does a PG excel in the NBA without the ability to score when he wants to score. For every Rajon Rondo there's a Tony Wroten. Bledsoe will be fun to watch, but very frustrating at times too. Dragic may be better right now, and Goodwin and Len might be better in the future, but Bledsoe has the greatest combination of potential and production right here and now, so he's the best Suns player/asset on the roster. However, the moment he starts making $12 million per year is likely the moment he's being overpaid. - Dave King
Important Question: Can Bledsoe hit a jumper with consistency?
No. 1: Ryan McDonough (1.2)
Profile: General Manager -- Rookie North Carolina
Summer Stats: Traded (7 players) Let Go (5 players) Acquired (9 new players), New Coaching Staff (4 new coaches), and a renewed sense of direction.
Analysis: Since Nelson took No. 1, I only had McMiracle at No. 2. I am apparently alone in this opinion. I mean no disrespect as he has gotten off to a tremendous start as general manager in Phoenix (acquiring Bledsoe, getting rid of Beasley, trading Butler for cap flexibility getting a first round pick for Luis Scola, and so on), but I had to go with Nelson. Here's to McDonough taking that top spot on my list next year after drafting Andrew Wiggins and trading for Kevin Love. As for now, I have no problems with my fellow writers ranking him No. 1. - Jacob Padilla
Important Question: Does he have any more bullets to fire?
Tell us what you think about #SUNSRANK. What did we get right? Wrong? Who did we miss?
Write-In Ballot: Ping-Pong Balls (Jim)
Profile: White balls bouncing in a locked room with no surveillance that determine the future of 10-14 teams a year.
Stats: Worst team in the NBA winning the lottery, two times. Second worst, three times. Once before a team tied for the worst record won the lottery, so technically the worst or second worst.
Interesting Fact: Potential worst pick for the Suns if they finish with a bottom two record; the fifth overall pick.
Analysis: That's easy. It's the ping pong balls. More specifically that one magical ping pong ball that acts as a cantrip to the Suns drafting their next franchise player (sorry Alex). I know it's number combinations, but ping pong balls just sounds sexier. Maybe we can call the computer Ping Pong? You may argue that the lottery is not part of this year/season... allow me to retort. The lottery selection show actually takes place during the playoffs, plus... the end of the NBA year is prior to the free agent period - which means this is in fact part of the 2013-14 season. This is easily the most crucial part of the season. A #1 pick could be a franchise altering event considering this draft class, while another number four finish that culminates in another number five pick would likely feel a whole lot like kissing your sister. So maybe you're looking forward to a bunch of other factors being the highlights of the season, but those pale in comparison to what could be one of the most memorable events in franchise history - a #1 overall pick. While you're #ignitingthefuture I'll be #playingpingpong. BTW, I picked draft day #2... -- Jim Coughenour
Important Question: With David Stern out of the picture will the balls finally bounce our way?
What did you think about the 25 Most Important Members of the 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns? Did we leave anyone out? Difference of opinion in the rankings? With that, #SUNSRANK is over...
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