The Phoenix Suns look to be one that will be exciting for many years. As a team built on youth through the draft, which historical team of a similar build will the 2018-19 Suns most resemble?
That is the extent of the comparison of the 2018-19 Suns and the late ’90’s Los Angeles Lakers as the two rosters themselves do not fully compare on a deeper level at this time.
However, there are three more natural comparisons that on paper do appear to potentially align themselves more directly.
These are the three:
(After reading, please vote on the poll and leave your comments on Twitter if there is a fourth team – maybe you do believe that the Suns might resemble the late ’90s Lakers better than these other three – that you think best resembles the upcoming 2018-19 Phoenix Suns.)
1993-94 Orlando Magic
After selecting Shaquille O’Neal first overall in 1992, the Orlando Magic added Anfernee Hardaway in the 1993 Draft, pairing up a dominant center with a tall, high-flying point guard with offensive vision comparable only to Magic Johnson at that time.
The Magic further had previously drafted Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson, two wing players whose greatest responsibilities were defense and 3-point shooting, rounding out a core-four of young players no older than 26 (Anderson), although anchored by the two stars at point and center.
The 1993-94 season was the first under Brian Hill, and under his leadership the franchise had turned from a 21-61 team of only two years prior, into a 50-32 playoff team full of youth, excitement, and promise.
2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder
The youngest core of the three teams discussed here, the Oklahoma City Thunder were led by 21-year-old and third-year superstar Kevin Durant, and 21-year-old second year player, Russell Westbrook. Both selected by the Seattle Super Sonics, they formed the heart of a core of four young players on a roster built to grow up together.
The other two key players moving forward were rookies James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Drafted together in 2009 (Harden 3rd and Ibaka 24th) and bench players their rookie season, Harden added an offensive burst not found in the rest of the league, while Ibaka was a defensive savant, capable of staying on any of the opponent’s best players, and soon to be one the league’s most dominant shot blockers.
That season too Jeff Green had developed into one of the offensive focal points on the team, third behind only Durant and Westbrook, and at 23 as well, the oldest of the bunch.
That core four (plus Green) in 2009-10 was extremely young, but because it was built through the draft, it gave the franchise the cap space necessary to use in free agency to help add the appropriate veteran depth to supplement the talent of the young core. Thabo Sefolosha was added in the 2009 offseason. Kendrick Perkins was then acquired a year later through trade for Green.
2012-13 Golden State Warriors
Before Kevin Durant used a glitch in the matrix to move to the Warriors from Oklahoma City, Golden State had built a championship team the right way, through the draft and trade, precisely what each of these teams, including the Suns have done.
Draymond Green appeared in 79 games that season, but was the ninth man on the roster at that time and only averaged 13.4 minutes per game, not really a focus of the roster.
Of course the stars of that team were then as they are now, guards Curry (who was 24 in his third season) and Thompson (was was 22 in his second year). However, veteran power forward/center David Lee was still at the heart of the team’s offensive threat and finished the year second in scoring behind Curry.
The Warriors won 47 games that season a 24 game improvement and stretched their success through the semifinals of the playoffs.