What started as a ray of hope transformed the summer into promise.
Eventually said promise turned into reality.
A reality no one, except maybe a select few deep inside, knew would materialize so quickly.
It’s hard to believe…ok…nearly unfathomable to think at this time last year the Phoenix Suns were a mis-cast and more importantly, mis-guided ship with twice as many losses as wins. Around this time the organization “parted ways” with one of the only stable pieces in place. Alvin Gentry out, Lindsey Hunter in.
Now the laughing-stock of the league is no joke.
Raw. Athletic. Untapped.
Friday’s news of the 24-year old being out at least towards the conclusion of the regular season after going under the knife to remove meniscus in his right knee wasn’t a total meteor shower on Planet Orange. Some hinted he would miss the entire season.
So for now say goodbye to 18 points, nearly six assists, four rebounds a game and enough jaw-dropping plays to rewind the DVR a time or two to make sure it wasn’t Russell Westbrook. Some of the skeptics who jumped on the bandwagon can’t seem to get off it fast enough. The seventh-seeded Suns are expected to freeze faster than the midwestern temps on the current road trip.
My rule of thumb is this.
If we’ve learned anything about THIS team it’s to expect the unexpected and losing is no longer accepted under McDonough and Jeff Hornacek’s eye. No beer in the locker room. No playing cards on post-game flights after losses.
Players play. Coaches coach. Fewer distractions has led to more wins. The focus is once again on W’s and L’s and not Mike D’Antoni’s “making basketball fun again” approach which worked well but at a different time with a different group of players.
Fortunately Phoenix has Goran Dragic, Bledsoe’s partner in crime who will be asked to pick up the slack in the second half. History has proven, like when “The Dragon” played for Houston, he has the potential to put up big numbers late in the season. Dragic may not set the frenzied pace offensively but can get up-and-down in the open floor and attack the basket while creating opportunities for others.
Further, the Suns will have the benefit of playing at U.S. Airways quite a bit next month, hosting nine of 12. Phoenix is 12-5 at home after managing just 17 wins at the Purple Palace all last season. A forgiving break at a forgiving time when contending teams are desperate to “ramp up” for the final sprint towards the regular season finish line.
If we’ve learned anything over the past eight months it’s to believe.
This team certainly does.
Even when no one else did.