Should Phoenix tank or win?

The Suns, originally projected as a lottery team, are in the playoff hunt

Updated: January 9, 2014, 5:25 PM ET
By Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Phoenix's announcement that Eric Bledsoe is out indefinitely.


The Phoenix Suns are one of the biggest surprises of the 2013-14 season, surpassing the expectations of many prognosticators (myself included) with a style of play that is somehow both entertaining and blue collar, and have thrust themselves firmly into the extremely competitive Western Conference playoff picture. Their 20 wins thus far puts them five wins behind their 2012-13 total, making rookie head coach Jeff Hornacek one of the leading candidates for coach of the year.

The expectations have risen for a team that was picked by many to be one of the worst in the conference, but as we've seen in the past, continued improvement (from "bad" to "decent" to "good"  to "great") becomes more difficult.

Still, with Thursday's announcement that point guard Eric Bledsoe was out indefinitely because of knee surgery, expectations for the season were slightly diminished. But considering how bad they were projected to be, the season still must be considered a win.

Here's a look at how Phoenix has defied expectations and where the Suns are headed beyond this season.