- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Staff Writer
Last year, the Phoenix Suns were excruciatingly hard to watch. They were bad on both ends of the floor, and had an entire roster of what seemed like underachieving role players. There didn't seem to be a plan in place. After the season, owner Robert Sarver enticed former Celtics executive Ryan McDonough to the desert, and a total franchise makeover ensued. The Suns moved out the clutter, collected assets, hired first-time coach Jeff Hornacek and embarked what we thought was going to be a pointed lesson in the art of tanking.
The Suns have gleefully failed to meet our expectations. Instead of a tank-fest, Phoenix is solidly in playoff contention with five weeks remaining in the regular season. Hornacek has the Suns playing fast and smart, while McDonough has successfully stockpiled assets and opened up flexibility. Less than a year removed from being one of the league's moribund franchises, few organizations have a more hopeful outlook. Now how do they navigate the rest of the way to the Suns' first NBA championship?
Where do the Suns reside on the arc of contention?
The Suns are outside of the inner circle of championship contenders, but they do harbor non-zero odds of going on a title run, and the big-picture arrow is pointed in the right direction. The Suns currently are tied for eighth in the Western Conference with a 36-26 record. Their point differential tacks on another win to their expected baseline, and the Hollinger playoff odds give the Suns a 43.6 percent chance at the postseason, and a 0.3 percent chance to win it all.
8dEthan Sherwood Strauss