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Phoenix may struggle now, but has pieces to become future contender

Phoenix may struggle now, but has pieces to become future contender
Published On: Thu, Oct 05
Jan 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher talks with guard Sasha Vujacic (18) during the second quarter against the Phoenix Sun at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns, at least by record, were the second-worst team in the NBA last season, their 24 wins besting only the Brooklyn Nets' 20. That's somewhat deceiving, as Phoenix more or less scrapped the last quarter of the season under the guise of "strategic rest" -- notably sitting a healthy Tyson Chandler, who happened to be having a really solid year, for the final 25 games as the team lost 13 straight in the month of March.

Still, 24 wins is 24 wins. Any way you slice it, Phoenix was a really bad team last year, atrocious defensively and bottom third offensively while playing at the second-fastest pace in the league. The losing paid at least one major dividend, of course: The Suns landed the No. 4 overall pick, where they took Josh Jackson, who some people had ranked as the best player in what could end up being one of the most talented drafts in recent memory.

If we're being honest here, a similar outcome to this season would be a win for Phoenix: continued development for one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and, and another high lottery pick. If the latter were to come to fruition (and there's a very good chance it will), the Suns -- with a core of Jackson, Devin Booker and another elite 2018 prospect, to go along with two more recent lottery picks in 20-year-old Marquese Chriss and 19-year-old Dragan Bender -- would really have something cooking.

Does that mean we're encouraging tanking before the season has even started? Not necessarily. Let's see how it goes. Perhaps the Suns exceed all expectations, and come March, somehow find themselves in contention for the eight seed in the mercilessly loaded Western Conference. That's unlikely, but then again, nobody would've predicted that 48-win season back in 2013-14, when Goran Dragic and Jeff Hornacek nearly took the afterthought Suns to the playoffs.

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Kris Humphries PF
Tyson Chandler C
John Jenkins SG
Brandon Knight PG
Archie Goodwin SG
Markieff Morris PF
Sonny Weems SG
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Chase Budinger SF
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