Ricky Rubio puts Phoenix Suns PG theory to the test

Ricky Rubio Phoenix Suns (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Ricky Rubio Phoenix Suns (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /
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Kevin Johnson Phoenix Suns (Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Johnson Phoenix Suns (Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Let’s play it safe

Let’s say that Rubio helps lead the team to 50% more wins this coming season than last.

That is approximately 9.5 more wins, which I’ll round up (because I am a homer like that), and the the Suns finish with a 29-53 record.

All things considered, that’s a step forward, however, let’s take a deeper dive look into that number:

First, the franchise has finished 29-53 once, in 2003-04, the final season of Stephon Marbury and Anfernee Hardaway (traded away mid-season); Frank Johnson was fired after 21 games; and Mike D’Antoni started rookie Leandro Barbosa at point the rest of the way.

The following summer, Jerry Colangelo signed Steve Nash and sold the franchise to Robert Sarver, and the rest is history.

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The franchise did finish 28-54 once as well, the year of “the trade” in which Colangelo acquired Kevin Johnson, Mark West, and company, then signed Tom Chambers to the first unrestricted free agency contract in history.

Again, the rest is history.

However, at the start of the run of this current stretch of abject losing, Earl Watson led the Suns to a 24-58 record, only five games worse than a 50% turn around, and he was an absolute joke  of a head coach, so honestly, a ten-game improvement actually seems awfully low.

Let’s say then that Rubio leads the Suns to 100% more wins this season than last (doubling their win total).

That record is only 38-44, but still a very large jump forward from 2018-19.

Believe it or not, 38 wins last season would have put Phoenix only one game out of the ninth spot in the Western Conference just behind the Sacramento Kings.

They would have still finished ten games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs for the seventh and eighth spots (more on that in a moment), but still not a bad spot to potentially be this coming season after what the last four years have been.

Phoenix has also finished 39-43 recently (just one win better than a 100% turnaround), doing so in Jeff Hornacek‘s final full season as Head Coach, the year following their 48-34 campaign that found them one game out of the playoffs – although one year away from Watson and a 23-59 record.

The franchise has finished 39-54 one additional time, in 1969-70 (the first year of Connie Hawkins when Phoenix boasted both Gail Goodrich and Dick Van Arsdale in the backcourt) and made the playoffs, losing to the Lakers in the Semis 4-3.

Three years later the franchise finished 38-44 in a season that saw Colangelo fire Head Coach Bill van Brena Kolff after only seven games, and appoint himself for the second and final time.

That year the Suns missed the playoffs by nine games (although the league had only 17 teams in which only four from each Conference made the postseason tournament).