Once upon a time in Phoenix,
A few years ago the franchise tried to do something unique and play three very good guards at once with Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic. That didn’t work for a number of reasons and the Suns traded Dragic and Thomas and decided to be, for the most part, young. The results, with Bledsoe as the centerpiece, are as expected. Like the Lakers have been doing for weeks and the Timberwolves, embarrassingly, for the season, the Suns have been for the most part losing.
The Suns looked good against the Lakers the other night but UCLA’s men’s team would give the Lakers a decent run these days. Losing D’Angelo Russell to injury didn’t help but the youth of the Lakers’ roster ensured an inevitable decline after a sizzling start. Lou Williams set a record for the most points scored by a bench player over a consecutive four games stretch but stats are for losers. Just ask James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Karl-Anthony Towns who continue to put up great stats but whose teams have as much of a chance of winning this season’s NBA championship as your grandma has of getting a date with Bill Gates. Maybe that’s overstating things regarding Westbrook and Harden but if you think either the Rockets or the Thunder has a reasonable chance at reaching the 2017 NBA Finals, some very sharp people welcome your presence at their poker games with open arms.
Going young, as the Lakers, Timberwolves, and Suns – to name three – have done, is very risky. All we have to do is look at how little the Timberwolves have won this season with a coach who’s supposed to be great and with Towns, Wiggins. LaVine, and Dieng and we see how difficult getting a team with a core of great young players to win really is. That is unless Wiggins, Towns, LaVine, and Dieng are dogs who don’t care that much or who have low basketball IQs and if you don’t think that’s possible you have much to learn.
The Suns did the bold thing by blowing up the three point guards experiment though they didn’t get nearly enough for Thomas in that deal. Now their fans can embrace youngsters like Len, Chriss, Booker, and Bender and young head coach Earl Watson. Sadly for Suns’ fans, the franchise couldn’t win a championship with gods like Chambers, Barkley, Johnson, or Nash. Bledsoe isn’t at that level yet but time might be on his side and hopefully for Suns’ fans the punting of former head coach Hornacek who is having success with the Knicks will lead to a parade some June in the not too far distant future.
As a point guard Mark Jackson was perfect for his time. Thickly built enough to withstand the rigors of hand checks and forearm shivers and savvy enough to exploit the emphasis on slowing it down and pounding, he fashioned a very nice playing career and was an asset to his teams. His coaching career had mixed reviews but, to his credit, he was with Golden State and Jerry West probably had a hand in his hiring. West is merely the best executive the game has ever seen. Jackson now is a game analyst on NBA games on ESPN and, sadly for us, he is not very good at it. He is pompous and says stupid things. While working with Jeff Van Gundy, the two of them will sometimes go on tangents and ignore the game. Maybe Mark will get better. But since ESPN thinks so highly of him and is paying him a lot of money, what’s his incentive to improve?
This piece was written by Jim Swigart. Jim has been seriously writing for at least eight years and previously wrote about music for a now defunct online magazine for about two years. Jim briefly blogged about sports for an online site and currently blogs weekly about sports on his own site.
His academic background is in business and math. He has done numerous work tasks besides writing. My interests include exercise, sports, music, and politics.