A look back on the 1995 Phoenix Suns: Evaluating the Roster

Charles Barkley, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Paul F. GERO / AFP) (Photo by PAUL F. GERO/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles Barkley, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Paul F. GERO / AFP) (Photo by PAUL F. GERO/AFP via Getty Images) /

This iteration of the Phoenix Suns was a solid squad, one that could only see their season end on a deadly kiss.

Too dramatic? I’m sorry, of course, I’m referencing Mario Elie‘s “kiss of death” and maybe romanticizing it isn’t exactly a way to start a piece on the 1995 Phoenix Suns. Nevertheless, this Suns team was a solid group in a series of contending teams in Phoenix from 1993-1995 (although one could also make a case for the 1992 team is a contender as well).

The 1995 Phoenix Suns went 59-23, which the 2nd best record for Phoenix in the Charles Barkley era, and they were dominant offensively. They would finish the season 2nd in points per game, 2nd in pace, and 3rd in offensive rating.

Defensively….let’s just say it wasn’t exactly their calling card, as they 19th in defensive rating ad gave up 106.8 points a night. Then again, with Charles Barkley as the alpha dog and a run and gun style, the Suns knew where their bread was buttered.

Barkley had another routinely solid season, averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists a game, and finishing 6th in MVP voting. He shot 48% from the field, got to the line seven times a night (shooting 74% from there), and also shot 33% from three, his best three-point shooting season in a Suns uniform. Barkley was Barkley, setting the tone on and off the floor, and although he led the way for the ’95 Suns, he had a solid supporting cast.

Charles Barkley had one of his best seasons in a Phoenix Suns Uniform and was only helped by a very solid supporting cast.

Newcomer Danny Manning was a skilled, cerebral big man in his prime, and he was second on the team in scoring per game with 17 points a night, to go along with six rebounds, and just over three assists a game. He also made for a nice frontcourt tandem with Barkley, with both being great scorers, solid rebounders, and skilled passers. Unfortunately, he only played 46 games that season, tragically tearing his ACL for the 2nd time in his career after landing on center Joe Klein’s foot during a February practice.

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Long time mainstays in sharpshooter Dan Majerle and floor general Kevin Johnson were a duo that each averaged 15 points per game while doing it in drastically different ways. Majerle achieved this mainly by shooting 36% from three on six attempts per game in 1995, while Johnson, a solid mid-range shooter but a poor one from three-point range, could only manage a 15% clip from deep. However, Johnson was fearless going to the basket, and he found himself on the foul line often, going there six times a game and shooting 81% from there. KJ also dished out 7.7 assists per game to lead all Suns in that category.

Iron man A.C. Green brought steady rebounding, toughness, and championship experience from his days with the showtime Lakers. Danny Ainge brought his own winning experience from his Celtics days to go along with heady playmaking and great three-point shooting. Wesley Person was the brother of “The Rifleman” Chuck Person, and even though he wasn’t the all-around player that Chuck was, he was a lengthy swingman and a career 41% shooter from three.

Elliot Perry was a solid guard who distributed the ball well and was known for his knee-high socks, but he also had a solid outside jumper that could stretch out to three. Former Pacers and King big man Wayman Tisdale was an offensive monster for a big man who could score inside and stretch it moderately for a mid 90’s big with a good mid-range jumper. These players would add even more offense off the bench and step up when needed in starting roles.

Ultimately the 1995 Phoenix Suns team was one of the best in the league. Although there was nary a defensive maestro on the roster, they were stacked with offensive talent from the top down and could dominate with the best of them.

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