We aren’t talking about Joel Embiid. Before last season the Philadelphia 76ers before last season suffered through three consecutive seasons of fewer than 20 wins. The Suns have a combined 47 wins the past two, and have 18 now with 21 games remaining. While on track to be a little more respectable than the 2013-16 Sixers, Phoenix’s 18-44 is good (bad?) enough for the worst record.
There’s no way a team with Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Tyson Chandler and the young Suns core would have been imagined 18-44. And yet, here we are: Suns fans who had that idea going into this season appeared to be dreaming something that was far-fetched.
Even after the acquisition of Elfrid Payton, the Suns are winless, but some guys are still putting up terrific numbers, and the young guys have shown heavy flashes of improvement. This bares the question: are the Suns up to something? Are they plotting a process? Will the expected top-5 pick in the 2018 draft and the summer of be the final stretch?
The Suns may be tanking. Blowing a double-digit lead to Portland on Saturday and giving their bench tons of crunch time minutes the last several games dating back to before All-Star Weekend.
Sam Hinkie, the former 76ers GM showed the possibility that he was avoiding wins during his time in Philadelphia, and now five seasons later, the team is seeing the benefits. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are already proven cornerstones of the process taking place in Philly; although other guys like Jahlil Okafor didn’t quite make the cut.
Regardless, the 76ers are 32-26 which is just three games behind third place in the Eastern Conference. That is also without last years top pick, Markelle Fultz.
So is it too soon to blame Ryan McDonough? Are the Suns following this trend? Although woeful now, will the young Suns current struggles reap benefits? The 76ers proved that top picks, while not always successful, can come through powerfully, and the Suns with three top-10 picks the past two seasons are hoping the same, and they are on track for the top pick in the Draft this summer as well.
From top pick to playoff contention, the Phoenix Suns are trying to do what the 76ers have proven can be successful.