Somewhere, Sam Hinkie is smiling because despite the NBA and Adam Silver’s best efforts, tanking is still alive and well in the NBA.
And there is no greater example than the Phoenix Suns.
Suns guard Devin Booker scored 59 points in a game against the Utah Jazz on Sunday night. Booker scored 59 of the Suns 92 points and the Suns still lost by 33 points. Booker, while only in his third season, is a scoring machine. Just a few seasons ago, Booker scored 70 points in a loss on the road to the Boston Celtics.
Many fans feel a talent like Booker’s is being wasted in Phoenix. The Suns are bad and have been for a while. The team has not had a winning record since 2014. The last time the Suns had more than 25 wins in a season was in 2015 when the team went 39-43.
While the losing seasons have been bad, there has been some good that has come out of all this losing. The Suns being in the NBA’s basement the past few seasons has allowed the team to acquire multiple draft assets and players over the years, including Devin Booker.
The Suns have tons of young talented players; Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson and Kelly Oubre are all under the age of 25. All of these young men have the potential to become key players for the Suns in future.
The Suns have not only young talented pieces in place, but they also have more incoming. The team currently has a record of 17-58. At this point, the Suns are essentially guaranteed a shot at a top three draft pick in this summer’s upcoming NBA Draft. That means the Suns could add a player like Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett or even Ja Morant to the young talent they have already.
Since Sam Hinkie so drastically ripped apart the Philadelphia 76ers and sent them to the bottom of the NBA in an effort to rebuild, the league has tried to do away with tanking. Teams losing on purpose does not look good for the league regardless of what the team’s front office’s intentions are.
The NBA wants to see tanking gone, but as long as losing leads to a possible top three draft pick, the losing will continue. The Process is still very much alive, and after it’s done in Phoenix, it will move onto another city and another team.
Front offices will do whatever they can to build a contender. Sixers fans may have hated the losing, but they are in no way mad that those years of suffering led to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Even though things look bleak in Phoenix now, all will be forgiven if a lineup that includes Booker, Ayton and Williamson steps onto the court next fall.