#3 – Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e is certainly one of the most talented and exciting players to ever wear a Suns jersey. Despite frustrating fans at times, like when he decided to retire as a Knick instead of a Sun, fans have still always loved him.
Many things contributed to this, including a mix of immense talent, explosive athleticism, and a big personality. He was also the perfect partner for Steve Nash in Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” system.
The Suns drafted Amar’e with the 9th pick after he decided, fortunately, not to attend the University of Memphis. Yao Ming was the rookie receiving most of the hype that year, while everyone expected the raw Stoudemire to require seasoning before making a real impact. That wasn’t the case, though. Amar’e worked his way into the starting lineup within the first month of the season. During December of that year, he started every game and averaged almost 16 points and 10 rebounds, all while shooting 54% from the floor.
Amar’e would continue to have a strong season the rest of the way, leading the Suns, along with Stephon Marbury and Shawn Marion, back to the playoffs. Phoenix didn’t have much of a chance to beat the number one seed Spurs that year, but they did steal game one thanks in large part to Stoudemire. He put up 24 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks along with hitting a three to send the game into overtime.
After outshining Yao Ming that year (the Suns beating out the Rockets for the final seed in the playoffs by one game didn’t hurt either), Amar’e earned the Rookie of the Year award. He became the first player out of high school to win the award, and the third in Phoenix Suns history.