Phoenix Suns: 10 Takeaways From The 2014-15 Season (Part 2)

Feb 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (left) against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe at US Airways Center. The Celtics defeats the Suns 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (left) against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe at US Airways Center. The Celtics defeats the Suns 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phoenix Suns
Mar 27, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) and center Alex Len (21) and forward P.J. Tucker (17) and forward Marcus Morris (15) and head coach Jeff Hornacek and guard Eric Bledsoe (2) look on during the final moments of the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at US Airways Center. The Trail Blazers won the game 87-81. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

1. The Phoenix Suns Still Have A Bright Future

It’s no secret that the 2014-15 season was a massive disappointment for the Phoenix Suns, particularly from an internal standpoint. After winning 48 wins and being the league’s feel good story last year, the Suns became a trade deadline Greek tragedy and finished the year with nine fewer wins.

“I think with some of the differences between this season and last season, the good thing is they realize what we need to improve on and try to rectify going into next season,” McDonough said. “I think they weren’t satisfied with how the season went, and that’s a good thing.”

The 1-10 skid to end the season — the worst 11-game finish to a season since the team’s inaugural season — didn’t help build optimism heading into the summer. The team was ravaged by injuries after the All-Star break, the investigation of Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris in an aggravated assault case made matters worse and the whole Gerald Green melodrama just piled on more negative vibes.

But getting wrapped up in all the pessimism will make you lose sight of the biggest takeaway moving forward. Because as rough as this season was, the Phoenix Suns still have a bright future.

“My view of it is that the end was rough,” Babby said. “We were really decimated at the end by injuries and that leaves a very bitter and poor taste in our mouth. I don’t think that it truly reflects where we are and what kind of season we had so that’s one way to look at it.

“You can say that, you can point to the games we lost at the buzzer, you can look to all the games we lost that were close and you can come away with that feeling optimistic — and I do — but I don’t think you can use any of those things as an excuse or delude yourself to think that there isn’t a lot of work to be done and improvement has to be made.”

Babby also pointed out that it was only year ago that we were including Jeff Hornacek in the Coach of the Year conversation while Ryan McDonough joined the discussion for Executive of the Year. Both took their lumps this season, but calling for their heads after a few mistakes/growing pains is unreasonable.

Bledsoe is on the cusp of playing at an All-Star level with a little more help and consistency. Brandon Knight is a very good perimeter shooter who could spread the floor and complement Bledsoe well in the backcourt once they finally have some time together in training camp.

Len looks like a potential game-changer in the paint. Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren both showed positive signs when they got playing time this season, which is even more encouraging when you consider that only one of them is legally able to buy alcohol.

This team has a young core that needs to be molded and that takes time. The Suns are still one star away, but they have a very good, young starting point, not to mention quite a few future first round picks stockpiled. McDonough noted that the manner in which the Suns have gone about their rebuild is atypical, but that it’s with long-term goals in mind:

"“We’ve tried to do something over the past couple of years that’s not easy to do, especially in a very difficult Western Conference, and that’s to turn over the team, infuse the team with young talent, but also stay competitive. Most teams either do one or the other, they try to stay competitive and win with veteran players — and to be honest with you, you can win more games in a shorter amount of time, but it’s probably not sustainable. “Or, teams go the other way and really blow it up and play a bunch of young guys and usually the losses pile up and the lottery balls pile up and that takes longer. It’s more of a high-risk, high-reward situation, we tried to do both of those things and I think we did a very good job of it last year. This year I think we did okay, we were a little too young, a little too inexperienced, and I think we’ll correct that for next year.”"

The Suns have their young core under favorable rookie-scale contracts, which will still be the case when the salary cap jumps through the roof in two seasons. They have cap space, they have all of their own first and second round draft picks moving forward and they have three additional first round picks coming over the next few years.

“More draft picks” doesn’t seem like a phrase Suns fans want to hear considering how young this team already is, but those picks could be used as trade chips. And even if they’re not, it’s worth noting that over the last few decades, it’s been rare for a championship team to NOT be led by a player they’ve drafted and cultivated into a superstar.

“I think the best way to have a really good NBA team for a long period of time is to draft and develop good young players,” McDonough said. “If you add good young players who are 19-22 years old and they can continue to get better, you can hopefully have them for five, 10, 15 years and have a long window.”

McDonough admitted the team needs veteran leadership, size and rebounding. He owned up to his mistakes as far as having too much backcourt depth and not enough minutes to go around. He’s well aware this team is still a star away and that the 2014-15 season was a major letdown.

But this was never meant to be a quick turnaround, and that’s something everyone needs to keep in mind moving forward. Between the trade deadline drama, sending away Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, all the buzzer-beaters, young players taking on new roles and all the adjustment periods that came with each, it’s amazing the Suns were even within reach of the playoffs.

It may not feel like it, but that’s an encoring sign for this young team’s potential moving forward.

Next: Phoenix Suns: 10 Takeaways From The 2014-15 Season (Part 1)

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