Phoenix Suns: 30 greatest players of all-time

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images /
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Dennis Johnson, Phoenix Suns
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Dennis Johnson. 15. player. 66. . Guard. 1980-83

From here on out, most of the players in the top-15 of the greatest in Suns history will be most well-known for their time in Phoenix. That being said, there will be a few exceptions. One of those will be Dennis Johnson, who like Paul Silas and Charlie Scott played in Phoenix, but won titles with the Boston Celtics.

If the Los Angeles Lakers’ Michael Cooper was the best wing defender in the 1980s, Dennis Johnson was perhaps the best guard defender in the decade. At 6-foot-4, he had the size to play either backcourt position. This allowed him to be paired with any other player and immediately guard the most dangerous guard on the opposing team.

After beginning his career with the then-Seattle SuperSonics, Johnson joined the Suns in 1980. He played three seasons in the desert. Offensively, he held his own, putting up 17.5 points per game on average over the three years. He was named to the NBA All-Star team twice while in Phoenix, coming in 1981 and 1982.

All three seasons that Johnson was on the Suns he was named to the All-Defensive First Team, part of nine-straight seasons on the All-Defensive First or Second Teams. For his career, Johnson ranks ninth in steal percentage, as his quick hands were devastating to opposing ball-handlers.

Unfortunately, Johnson frequently clashed with the coaching staff in Phoenix, including longtime head coach John MacLeod. In 1983, he was traded to the Celtics for a package of players who failed to make any real impact on the team. His tenure with the Suns was brief, but the level of excellence was sky-high.