9. Raja Bell
(17.9 WS / .093 WS per-48)
When Quentin Richardson’s contract became too expensive to retain, the seven seconds or less system still required as much shooting as possible. As yo may recall, the team also lacked a little defense and when Raja Bell became available, he was an immediate target of Phoenix’s.
A hot commodity in the summer of 2005, many believe that Bell was headed for Los Angeles to play with the Lakers. However in a sneaky maneuver, the Suns were able to swipe him up, adding him to part of one of the greatest teams in Suns history.
More than just his great shooting (Bell shot 42.2% in three-and-a-half seasons with Phoenix including a league-leading 205 made 3’s in 2006-07) and defensive tenacity (while Shawn Marion was regularly tasked with defending the opponent’s best player, Bell was often his right-hand man), Raja was also an ferocious attacker never afraid of a confrontation, a verbal and emotional leader on the court.
His most memorable moment will go down as one of the greatest single events in Suns history.
Midway through the fourth quarter of game 5 of the 2006 first round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Suns, down 3-1 in the series but up 14 in the game, still needed an emotional life.
Kobe Bryant began to drive on Bell. With a stiff left arm, Bell clothesline’d Kobe then grabbed and pulled him to the ground. An obvious flagrant 2 foul, Bell was ejected and suspended for one game, putting Phoenix behind the eight-ball in game six. But his action lit a fire under his teammates who fought L.A. off, then blew them out of the water in game seven, with Kobe memorably quitting on his team.