Suns Lose to Kings Locking up 2nd Worst Record

Apr 11, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Alan Williams (15) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings forward Anthony Tolliver (43) during the third quarter at Golden 1 Center. The Kings defeated the Suns 129-104. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Alan Williams (15) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings forward Anthony Tolliver (43) during the third quarter at Golden 1 Center. The Kings defeated the Suns 129-104. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns lost to the Sacramento Kings tonight, but that in and of itself, isn’t in anyway the whole story.

As Ryan McDonough has been handling the roster in the second half of the season, the same contingent of players missed tonight’s season finale matchup against the Sacramento Kings. He added, however, Devin Booker to the list, all but guaranteeing a Suns loss ad the best shot possible at the first overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft (not to mention bumping the Lakers to third and giving them the best possible chance of losing their pick all together).

"Benching Booker to help lose turned out to be totally unnecessary as a Suns win would not have changed their position in the standings. Though their game was happening at the same time as the Suns’, the Los Angeles Lakers won tonight as well, their fifth consecutive win, which locked their position as third worst overall, and the Suns second, behind only the Brooklyn Nets."

The remaining team on the court obliged as the Kings handled the Suns fairly easily running away with their 32nd win on the season, finishing the Suns’ year 24-58, one game better than last season.

For a season who’s central purpose was to tank and grab the best available player in this summer’s draft (or have the best possible pick to trade in a possible blockbuster deal at or before draft day) the Suns finished off the year with one final loss, culminating in the worst combined two-year period in franchise history. From 2015-17 the Suns have finished an awful 47-117, a combined record that could only, and fairly, be declared the worst two seasons in franchise history.

While down only three at the end of the first quarter, and within a point until about midway through the second, the Suns never once took the lead, a situation they were unable to ever turn around.

Sacramento would pull away with a 24-5 run over 7:59 in the second, boosted by Phoenix shooters suddenly running ice cold going 2-15 over that period. That stretch alone took away any opportunity for the Suns to try to end the year on a high note.

Phoenix would recover offensively in the second half scoring 38 points and shooting 50% from the field in the third, though they allowed 39 points on 65% from the Kings. The fourth quarter would introduce no heroics or historic comebacks as Sacramento held onto their victory ending the Suns season with a loss, although padding their already guaranteed second worst spot in league providing them with the second most opportunities to win the first overall pick in the NBA draft.

"Finishing with the second worst record in the NBA, this is the lowest seed the Suns have ended a year since finishing last (of 14 teams) in their inaugural season of 1968-69."

Tyler Ulis finished with 27 points leading the Suns, his second highest scoring game of his career. He added 6 assists and since his installation as the team’s starting point guard on March 15, he averaged 39.5 minutes per game and 8.7 assists, both leading the team. His 39.5 minutes over the final 25 games also led the league, with LeBron James coming in second averaging 38.8 (although LeBron has one game remaining tomorrow night). In 66 games Eric Bledsoe finished with a career-high 6.3 assists per game.

Marquese Chriss finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds. He finished with a season average of 9.2 and 4.2 respectively. He also finished with 11 technical fouls (including one tonight acquired during a scuffle between Dragan Bender and Georgios Papagiannis) one behind Alex Len’s team-lead of 12.

Dragan Bender never really got his groove or shot back following his ankle surgery and finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 personal fouls, and 0-7 from beyond the arc in 21:21 minutes. Bender finished the season with disappointing averages of 3.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, a 35.4% shooting percentage from the field, and 27.7% from three. Unless he is traded this off-season, his physical maturity over the summer will definitely be one of the biggest storylines as the franchise and fans look with interest to see how his game can improve before the start of next season. If the Suns end up making a run at the playoffs in 2017-18, his versatility both offensively and defensively will be crucial to the team’s success.

T.J. Warren finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds reaching double-digit scoring in 22 of his final 23 games played. Over that stretch he averaged 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, each about two ticks above his season averages which was effected by his mysterious head injury and long recovery.

Alan Williams recorded his final double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 boards. He led the team in double-doubles with 15, each coming off of the bench. Incredibly, Williams finished with season averages of 7.2 points and 6.1 rebounds, considering his extremely limited play through the team’s first 57 games (through those games he averaged only 3.1 points and 3.2 rebounds). Now he looks like there is no reason why he shouldn’t be re-signed to a long-term contract as the team’s leading center off the bench, regardless of what the Suns decide to do with Alex Len and Tyson Chandler.

8 of the Kings’ 9 players in tonight’s game finished in double-figure scoring, an incredibly balanced offensive effort on their part. However it was Ty Lawson who impressed most finishing with a triple-double of 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. Buddy ‘Steph Curry’ Heild finished with a career-high 30 points, shattering his personal best by 8 points.

The Suns still lead the all-time head-to-head matchup with the Kings 131-91, however Sacramento has won the past three season series’ 3-1.