ESPN is currently running a fun interactive graphic in which fans can pick their all-time starting lineup from every franchise in the NBA.
With a team as successful as the Suns have been (fourth-highest winning percentage of all NBA teams), there are many ways to go. According to Sports Nation, the all-time Suns lineup is Steve Nash at the point (duh!), Paul Westphal at the two, Shawn Marion at the three, Charles Barkley at the four and Alvan Adams starting in the middle.
In coming up with my all-time Suns lineup, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that I’m 24. I became a basketball fan while Charles Barkley was leading the Suns teams of the mid-90s to greatness and I have witnessed every second of the Seven Seconds or Less and the subsequent Nash Era, but I know Westphal only as a coach and Adams and Neal Walk only from the history books.
This is one of the reasons Bill Simmons wrote The Book of Basketball. As years pass, we forget about the greatness of long ago players, so only particular indelible moments (like Gar Heard’s shot in 1976) and ridiculous achievements (like what Russell’s Celtics did in the ’60s) stay with us.
For my lineup I’m going to go outside of the box a little bit and eschew positions, which I think is fitting because that’s what the Suns have been about for almost as long as I’ve watched them. Small ball has been a staple of this franchise, from the four-guard lineup of Kidd-KJ-Chapman-Person to the recent vintage of small ball played by Mike D’Antoni’s team.
I also am going to go with one more Book of Basketball twist and specify the particular vintage of a player I want. This is most relevant for a guy like Amare, as I can choose from the explosive athlete he was during his first couple years or the more refined talent he was last season.
So without further ado, here’s my all-time Phoenix Suns starting lineup:
C — Amare Stoudemire (2004-05) — This is the guy who decimated a prime Tim Duncan in the playoffs. Having yet to undergo a knee surgery, he’s a ridiculously explosive athlete who will beat all the other fives down the floor.
PF — Charles Barkley (1992-93) — Barkley’s 1992-93 might be the greatest single season in franchise history, as it was a year in which he averaged a 25.6 and 12.2 on his way to MVP honors and a Suns Finals appearance. He will be this team’s crunch-time scorer and emotional leader.
SF — Shawn Marion (2005-06) — This was the year Marion peaked with Amare out for the year. I envision him being this squad’s do-everything guy, picking up some garbage buckets while making a big impact on the boards and doing all the little things defensively.
SG — Dan Majerle (1991-92) — Majerle was both a lights-out three-point shooter and a lockdown defender, and I love the toughness he will bring to this squad. Majerle was still at his athletic peak during this year and will be a perfect fit for this team.
PG — Steve Nash (2006-07) — Although he won MVPs during the two years prior, Nash shot higher from the field and three and averaged more assists and just as many points as he did in his MVP years during this season. The Suns have had some fantastic point guards, but he’s still the obvious choice to lead this offense.
Yes, this is a roster of players I have seen play extensively and some of the old-timers like an Alvan Adams (who starts at center if I have to stick with the positions specified by ESPN) get screwed a little bit.
But what I like most about this team is that it epitomizes what Phoenix Suns basketball has been all about for years.
First off, it’s a dynamic scoring unit. Nash and Amare have been played on the best offenses in NBA history, and this team has a little bit of everything on that end.
All of the players can shoot jumpers, and the guards are proficient from long range (Marion can hit some threes as well). Then you have quality slashers in Majerle and Marion and a dynamic post duo in Barkley and Amare, who can both thrive in the pick-and-roll game with Nash. This is a true pick-your-poison offense that Nash will exploit to the fullest.
It’s also not as bad of a defensive team as you might think as either Marion or Majerle could defend an elite point guard to mask Nash’s deficiencies and the other could guard the best wing. It’s a team built to run and then you have a go-to guy in Barkley to throw it down to when things slow down. Barkley and Marion will also help this team do OK on the boards despite being a bit undersized.
In summary, this team would score loads of points and be incredibly fun to watch, but it would be a bit of a liability when it comes to interior defense.
Yep, that sounds like an all-time Phoenix Suns starting lineup to me.