The Colangelos will recognize the makeup of this Phoenix Suns team because it emulates the formula of 46 years of Suns basketball to a T.

Excuse me if you've heard this one before. The Phoenix Suns have spent 46 years "going small" and plan to continue that trend into the future.

You would think at some point in 46 years, the Suns would have been "going big", but since the team lost the coin flip for Lew Alcindor (later, Kareem Abdul Jabbar), it appears the franchise has determined to be undersized.

Over those five decades, the Suns have gone through three owners, six general managers and 19 head coaches. Actually, when you think about it, having just six general managers in 46 years is not very many. Jerry Colangelo was the GM for the team's first 27 years (1968-1995). He organized a group to buy the team after the drug scandal in the 80s, and installed his son Bryan as GM eight years later. In 2004, Jerry sold the team amid health problems from which he later recovered. Bryan left two years after that to run the Toronto franchise. All tolled, a Colangelo was GM and/or owner for the team's first 38 seasons.

Over those 38 seasons, the team has attempted to acquire outsized big men (6'11" plus), but those acquisitions have been doomed. Lew Alcindor was lost on a coin flip. Neal Walk was servicable. Nick Vanos died in a plan crash. William Bedford had a drug problem. Jake Tsakalidis had talent issues. Robin Lopez had back (and rebounding) issues. Shaquille O'Neal had age issues. Marcin Gortat had rebuilding issues.

In fact, arguably the greatest big men the Suns have employed were 6'9" center Alvan Adams (draft) and power forwards Paul Silas (trade), Larry Nance (draft), Tom Chambers (free agency), Charles Barkley (trade), Shawn Marion (draft) and Amare Stoudemire (draft).

Only Silas, Barkley and Marion averaged more than 10 rebounds per game for their Suns career and none of the three was over 6'8". Other big rebounders made valley cameos for 1-3 seasons but didn't stick, including Maurice Lucas, Truck Robinson, Marcin Gortat. Even Silas and O'Neal fit that short-timer description.

The Colangelos had a penchant for drafting and acquiring players based on skill set rather than size or rebounding. After a slow start, the Suns made the playoffs in 23 of their last 29 seasons running the team. Those playoff seasons included 2 NBA Finals appearances and 8 more Conference Finals appearances.

In the eight seasons since a Colangelo has run the show (2006-2014), the Suns continued to use the core of the last Colangelo-built team for six of them, translating into three playoff appearances including one trip to the Conference Finals.

Deviations

The Suns did dip a foot into the "going big" pool after the Colangelos left.

They traded Shawn Marion for 7'2" 350-pound Shaquille O'Neal in 2008 to field the biggest and most talented Suns front line in franchise history with 6'10" Amare Stoudemire at his side. But the two never meshed, and the valley never bought into it. Fifteen months later, the Suns said "sorry" by effectively swapping out Shaq for Channing Frye. And the people rejoiced.

Another attempt go at least "normal sized" was to draft 6'10" power forward Markieff Morris in 2011 and trade for 6'11" Marcin Gortat six months later. Morris and Gortat both came to the team with a reputation of being tough and rebound-minded. Gortat lived up to that for at least the first 1.5 seasons, bringing a 15/10 full-season stat line to the center position for the first time in the Suns history.

But the Suns promptly tried to turn Morris into a stretch-four he wasn't ready to play. Morris has been the franchise's most accomplished draft pick in the past decade over his first three seasons, yet the collective fanbase has never totally taken to Keef. Some of that is Keef's personality and performance, but some of it must be attributed to Keef not fitting the traditional Suns mold of player. He's not a stretch four, and neither is he an undersized rebounding demon like Marion. Many Suns fans would rather the team had drafted Kawhi Leonard or Kenneth Faried in 2011, who both profile much more closely to Shawn Marion than Morris does.

The fact that we identify more closely with Faried, Marion and Frye than a sure-fire Hall of Fame player in Shaquille O'Neal is a testament to how ingrained our love for "going small" has become.

The Suns are the winningest NBA franchise not to win an NBA title. "Going small" has become synonymous with "pretty darn good".

Back to the future

So it's no surprise that Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek - who was a player during one of those successful "going small" runs - has no problems going small again this season.

"Sure. But I'd rather do in an outsized situation to see how they do," coach Hornacek said the other night about possibly playing the three point guards at the same time this season.

The 2014-15 Suns have three of the league's best players in point guards Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas but none of the league's best big men.

Following franchise tradition, the Suns have a servicable center (Miles Plumlee) who comes out in smaller lineups and a "could-someday-be-great-if-everything-falls-into-place" center prospect (Alex Len) who better fits the mold of Walk, Tsakalidis and Lopez than anyone named Alcindor.

In fact, the only thing separating this Suns team from the best teams in franchise history is the lack of All-Star power forward more talented on offense than defense. (insert wistful Kevin love here)

This season, the Suns most effective lineup appears to consist of an undersized power forward who can spread the floor (Anthony Tolliver) who "might lead the league in three point attempts and makes" but is otherwise limited in the areas of defense and rebounding.

Markieff Morris will share the power forward minutes, but likely won't get more than 26 minutes a game unless can make 38+% of his three pointers.

Sound familiar?

Depth is a good thing. Having depth wins you championships. The Phoenix Suns have depth, and lots of it. But is it too much? Is too much depth even a thing? Whether it is or isn’t we sure are going...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Put down the fork, Boris.

2014 Phoenix Suns Dress Rehearsal. Here's an update on the study of "rotational balance."

A helpful breakdown of the Suns option at the center positions for the upcoming season.

David Aldridge takes a look at eliminating the max contract, and what that could mean for the future of the Association.

T.J. Warren's focus in the preseason: playing some D, shooting the 3.

Eric Bledsoe's focus? The mid-range game.

Former Sun Boris Diaw has some interesting incentives related to his weight in his contract with the Spurs. Also included is the following statement: "Contract contains $500,000 in annual performance incentives currently listed as unlikely." I wish this was making reference to the weight goals. Sadly it is not.

A "fluke accident" has sidelined Alex Len indefinitely, though head coach Jeff Hornacek fully expects him to be ready for the regular season opener on Oct. 29th against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Grant Hill spoke about the burden of expectations that the Suns will deal with in the 2014-15 season.

This season Anthony Tolliver may lead the league in three-pointers made and attempted according to Anthony Tollliver.

Free hoops! Suns to hold an open practice on October 18th.

In former Suns news, Steve Nash has a believer in Steve Kerr.

Just in case this double alley oop has not yet crossed your radar. Enjoy. In you've already seen it, the link also includes plenty of Gerald Green.

A Phoenix judge has dismissed the shoplifting charges against former Sun Richard Dumas. Dumas still faces seven felony allegations.

This guy is really good so it's worth mentioning. Kevin Durant hurt himself, he'll be unable to play basketball for awhile.

The Suns dropped their first of three preseason games on Monday. Lay out most any excuse for it, and it was likely partially to blame. Phoenix hit 5-of-25 three-pointers, turned the ball over 25...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Phoenix Suns lost a very sloppy game to the Houston Rockets by the score of 95-92 . Both coaches chose to play most of their reserves, as only three of the ten starters in the game reached 20 minutes and only Terrence Jones and Kostas Papainkolaou for the Rockets played in the fourth quarter and closed out the game.

This game started off with an extremely sloppy first half. The Suns had nine turnovers in the first quarter and the two teams shot a combined 4-25 from three in the half. The leading scorer for the Suns was Eric Bledsoe with 7 and Goran Dragic didn't score again in the first half after scoring five quick points in the beginning of the game.

In my opinion it looked like everyone was off. The Rockets were missing a lot of good looks from three and the Suns were just extremely out of rhythm offensively. Both teams weren't all that bad defensively, but that wasn't even close to what led to this line at half. The Suns also missed eight free throws in the first half.

We saw the debut of Joe Jackson in this one. As our own Dave King pointed out, this is likely Jackson getting some time on the floor before his release like Jamil Wilson had last week. Jackson had a rough going of it and a lot of that had a lot to do with him matching up with Pat Beverley. He showed off his extreme speed, but ironically enough the speed of the NBA was what looked to have him rushing his play and turning the ball over.

The second half started with a quarter of runs. The Suns came in with a lot of energy and a handful of plays from P.J. Tucker saw them reclaim the lead. It wasn't long thought before the reserves came in for the Suns and that saw the Rockets go on a monster run to take the lead once again. You're not going to believe it, but the Suns made it the third run of the quarter at the end to head into the fourth with a six point lead thanks to a nice scoring spurt by T.J. Warren.

The fourth quarter started with a great display from Isaiah Thomas and Anthony Tolliver. Thomas did a great job of taking what the defense would give him and didn't force any shots, as he would even take his shooting form in mid-air and still pull off a pass. Thomas is still getting used to where his teammates are on the floor and we can check Tolliver off the list. Tolliver hit three from deep in about a 4 minute span in the second half. It looks like Tolliver and Thomas will be running a lot of pick-and-pop action for Hornacek this year.

Hornacek couldn't find a lineup to work all night until this point where Thomas/Goodwin/Warren/Tolliver/Barron played with each other for the first eight minutes of the quarter. To be honest this lineup was just playing basketball. They weren't doing anything too special on either end, but were solid enough to give the Suns a cushion. Thomas in particular was the standout as well as Barron doing a decent enough job in the key.

This game would have a preseason ending to it as Tyler Ennis checked in for Thomas around the 4 minute mark to close the game out. Ironically enough this is one of the biggest skills that Ennis has in being a clutch late game performer so I was eager to see how it would go.

Ennis brought that quick and methodical playmaking to the point guard spot, but it didn't produce anything. The Suns went to Earl Barron in some situations to close this game out. Yes, you read that right. Barron, who I mentioned earlier, was probably the most impressive Suns player tonight. He finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The game would end as it should have, sloppy. Archie Goodwin had a humongous turnover on his own end on a drive which led to a Rockets fast break. The Rockets missed the open three, got an offensive rebound, missed that, and then T.J. Warren turned over the rebound as he tried to move it in transition. Isaiah Canaan got the ball right away with the and-1 and that gave the Rockets the 93-90 lead with 30 seconds left in the game.

That unit left on the floor didn't give the Suns any three-point threat except for Tolliver and that resulted in an ugly step-back three attempted by Archie Goodwin with 11 seconds left which he missed. The Rockets made one of their free throws and that would do it.

The Suns will be back in action on Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Page 16 of 1520

16

Sponsored Ads