The difficulty of arranging a list of the greatest players in a team’s history is that most players are difficult to directly compare. Is an MVP candidate playing in Phoenix for five seasons more or less valuable than a solid starter playing 10? In general, this list leans on the side of excellence over longevity, which is why Alvan Adams is not higher.
That perhaps does Adams a disservice, as he is one of the most important players in the history of the franchise. No player has ever suited up for the Suns as many times as Adams, who never once played for another team in his 13-year NBA career. Adams is the franchise leader in games, minutes, rebounds and defensive win-shares.
The 6-foot-9 center did not have dominating size, but he knew how to play the center position in a way as to leverage what he did have to the greatest advantage. After dominating in college at Oklahoma, he was selected fourth overall in the 1975 NBA Draft.
Entering the league as a polished player, Adams had his best season first, averaging 19.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Not only did he win NBA Rookie of the Year, but he made the NBA All-Star game as well.
Adams played the next 12 seasons as a reliable starter at the pivot for teams that were great, and teams that were not. In his rookie season, he was a part of a Suns team that made the run to the NBA Finals. In his ninth season with the team, the Suns pushed the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals before losing.
The highlight moment of his career is probably his improbable triple-double. On Feb. 22, 1977 Adams scored 47 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists — not to mention five blocks! No player has ever put together that combination of statistics.
While Adams never tallied more than 7.7 win shares in a single season, his total of 73.5 is fourth all-time in Suns history. Adams clearly ranks as the best Suns player to never wear another NBA jersey.