The next few teams, #10 – #6 get the very honorable distinction of fringe League Pass Contenders. They almooost made it, and were League Pass a few more, I would be watching these guys night-in-night out, along with my top 5. Keep reading and drop a comment if you think any of these guys should jump up into my League Pass.
The Phoenix Suns were the League’s darling last year. A roster of cast-off misfits and unproven commodities, this was supposed to be a lottery team and the worst squad in the Western Conference (skip down to Prediction time. Also Ethan Strauss lolz) Instead first year coach Jeff Hornaceck used conditioning, three guard lineups, and 3 point shooting to run all over the league and bring his team within a win of reaching the postseason in the impossibly tough Western Conference. Goran Dragic emerged as the league’s Most Improved Player, and this team managed to stay afloat even after losing Eric Bledsoe for almost half of the season. Even if every other website out there lauded this “plucky”, “spirited” team, this author has to agree. These guys were fucking fun to watch.
Bledsoe is back after a long, boring stalemate of a summer between his agent, super-agent Rich Paul (yes, his name is Rich), and an organization that seemed desperate to low-ball the crap out of their young star. Bledsoe is once again joined by Dragic, or simply and cooler, the Dragon. The Suns must have really been enamored by the success of their double PG play last season as they signed Isaih Thomas away from the Sacramento Kings – a move that doesn’t seem to make a ton of success after ultimately retaining Bledsoe – and not to mention adding Tyler Ennis who was one of my favorite PGs in the draft this year. This team will be very deep at the 1.
Other than that, the roster is packed with young talent, featuring such quirky players as the Morris twins (who have expressed their willingness to take paycuts to remain together on an NBA team), the eldest of the Plumless, Mr. Heat Check Gerald Green, and the newly-drafted mid-range dinosaur TJ Warren. The team essentially exchanged Channing Frye for Anthony Tolliver to retain a stretch forward and look to build on their success last year with a postseason berth.
What’s hard to say is whether the Suns overperformed last year. This team was able to run with the best of the west, winning their series against the Thunder, Blazers, and Warriors. However, some of their success may be attributed to opposing coaches neglecting to prepare properly for them and other teams’ unwillingness to run at their pace. Whatever the case, the Suns were awful close to making the playoffs last year, and are well worth a close watch in 2014-2015.
X-Factor= Gerald Green
Tough toss-up here. Bledsoe missed a lot of last season and held up the whole organization before becoming one of the higher paid PGs in the league so the expectations are high. Green, on the other hand, had an ELECTRIC season. Its almost impossible to believe that this is his 8th (!!!) NBA team and he also spent time in Russia. This guy could carry the team in scoring and made some huge shots, particularly in a crazy win over the Thunder towards the end of the season. If this guy remains as hot as last year, this team is making the playoffs.