Starting next year, the Phoenix Suns will be celebrating 50 years as an NBA team. During that time, they have yet to win an NBA Championship, but at least have been the Finals on two occasions. Unfortunately, neither of those occasions have come within the last 23 years. It’s not easy to build a team in Phoenix as national interest can be a bit low, which leads to a need to draft well to acquire talent.
The Suns have had some mixed success with that, and most of their best players have either come via trade or draft. When it comes to free agency, they haven’t gotten many of the high-priced players unless they are too far past their prime. With that said, there have been a lot of fantastic Suns players since 2000, as well as some lousy ones.
Now, we take a look at both sides of the coin to see which of those Suns, both former and current make the list. There are only a couple of names on the list that will make Suns fans happy, with just two current players on the list. The rest, well they might bring up some bad memories. Here are the eight best and seven worst Phoenix Suns players since 2000.
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15 Best - Goran Dragic
Heading into the 2008 NBA Draft, Goran Dragic had already played with several international teams and had to wait until the second round to hear his name called. It was actually the Spurs that had drafted Dragic, but he was then traded to the Suns in exchange for Malik Hairston. It ended up being a good deal for the Suns, though Dragic would get off to a slow start in his rookie season.
Before becoming a star, Dragic was sent to Houston but he would return to Phoenix as a free agent in 2012. In just under 400 games so far in his Suns career, Dragic has put up 12.3 points per game with 4.5 assists and 2.6 rebounds. His second stint was much better, so the numbers don’t tell the whole story as he was an All-NBA player in 2014, thanks to 20.3 points and 5.9 assists per game.
14 Worst - Zoran Dragic
Of course, there were hopes that basketball talent would run in the family, which is why the Suns were willing to sign Goran Dragic’s brother, Zoran. He went undrafted in 2011 and was playing overseas when he inked a deal with the Suns, just after his brother had the best season of his career to this point. Zoran did not last long in Phoenix, however, as he was traded along with his brother to Miami.
Before he could be shipped away, Zoran was able to score just 1.0 points per game with 0.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists. He didn’t fare much better with the Heat, either, scoring just over two points per game. Ultimately, Zoran was let go and has been back to playing overseas, currently with Emporio Armani Milano.
13 Best - Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson was selected 10th overall way back in 2001 by the Boston Celtics, though he would only last for half a season before being traded to the Suns in a multi-player deal. Johnson had a solid first impression during his half season with the Suns, scoring 9.6 points per game with 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists. The numbers would get even better as the years went forward.
Though Johnson played less than 300 total games with the Suns, he was able to put up some solid numbers with some clutch shooting. Johnson finished with 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists during his Suns tenure. Still in the league all these years later, Johnson is now with the Jazz.
12 Worst - Tyson Chandler
You could certainly make the case that the Suns waited much too long into the career of Tyson Chandler to acquire the center. Chandler spent the first decade plus of his career with the Bulls, Hornets, Bobcats, Mavericks and Knicks. After becoming a free agent following the 2014-15 NBA season, Chandler signed on with the Suns for a large contract valued at four years and $52 million.
The deal looked like a bad one in the first year as Chandler wasn’t the perennial double-double player that he had been the year before. In his first season, he put up just 7.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, which were down from the previous year. However, Chandler does bring some leadership to the young Phoenix Suns.
11 Best - Devin Booker
It might be too early into the career of Devin Booker to place him this high, but players tend to not stick around in Phoenix for very long, it seems. Booker was one of the many All-Americans in high school that attended Kentucky for college and became a first round pick. He was selected 13th overall in 2015 by the Suns, and his rookie season saw him get named to the All-Rookie First Team.
Booker has not only seen a large increase in minutes in the 2016-17 season, but his numbers have also taken big jumps. As of mid-February, Booker has been averaging 16.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his Suns career. At only 20 years old, you have to figure that Booker’s numbers are only going to get better. If he sticks around Phoenix for a lengthy amount of time, he could climb toward the top of the list.
10 Worst - Tom Gugliotta
Since we are only taking into consideration seasons that started with the 2000-01 campaign, Tom Gugliotta gets consideration to be one of the worst Suns. Gugliotta averaged 17.0 points per game and 8.9 rebounds in 1998-99, and followed it up with 13.7 points and 7.9 rebounds the next season. When the new millennium kicked off, however, Gugliotta’s numbers took a massive dip.
Gugliotta played in Phoenix until being sent away during the 2003-04 season. Starting with the 2000-01 season and leading up to that point, Gugliotta never averaged more than 6.5 points per game in a season or more than 5.0 rebounds. The source of Gugliotta’s poor play came after he had a near-death experience, and he was just never the same player. It’s hard to blame him for his decreased play, but he was making more than $10 million while putting up almost no numbers.
9 Best - Shaquille O'Neal
There’s no doubt that Shaquille O’Neal is one of the best big men to ever make it into the NBA. With the Magic, Lakers and Heat, O’Neal was a four-time NBA Champion and the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2000. He would end up being traded to the Suns in February 2008 when Phoenix was fighting for a playoff spot. While his Suns tenure was not the most memorable, he did put up some good numbers.
In just over 100 regular season games, O’Neal would score 16.5 points per game with 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Although he wasn’t able to get the Suns over the hump and into the NBA Finals, he certainly brought a lot of attention to the Suns that hadn’t been there in quite some time.
8 Worst - Brian Grant
Brian Grant didn’t join the Suns until years after the new millennium started. He was the eighth overall pick back in 1994 by the Kings, where he started his career. Grant then had stints with the Trail Blazers, Heat and Lakers, putting up some solid numbers along the way. Grant was consistently in double digits, topping out at 15.2 points per game in 2000-01.
When he joined the Suns for the 2005-06 season, however, he wasn’t anywhere close to the player he had been. Grant scored just 2.9 points with 2.7 rebounds per game in his short tenure that lasted just over 20 games. It would be the last team that Grant got playing time for, but at least the team wasn’t on the hook for most of his $14 million plus contract.
7 Best - Eric Bledsoe
Just like Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe was one of those highly touted recruits that ended up at Kentucky. In 2010, Bledsoe was the 18th player to be drafted with Oklahoma City calling his name. He would start his career with the Clippers, however, before being involved in a three-team deal in July 2013 that sent Bledsoe to Phoenix.
The change of scenery was exactly what Bledsoe needed to revive his career, and he has been putting up some huge numbers ever since. Bledsoe, in just under four seasons with the Suns, has averaged nearly 19 points, five rebounds and six assists per game. As of mid-February, he has had his best scoring season yet with 21.6 points per game and will look for his first All-Star appearance next season.
6 Worst - Jake Voskuhl
Not many of the players on our list, especially on the ‘worst’ side of things, played in Phoenix for very long. That was not the case for Jake Voskuhl, who was drafted by the Bulls in 2000 and then sent to the Suns the next year. Voskuhl would spend four seasons in Phoenix, never making much of an impact. In his Suns career, he would score just 4.7 points per game with 4.0 rebounds, while picking up nearly three fouls per game.
That’s an impressive amount of fouls for playing under 17 minutes per game on average, which is probably why he didn’t see the court all that much. Voskuhl would eventually find his way to Charlotte, Milwaukee and then Toronto before ending his NBA career after the 2008-09 season, averaging just 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
5 Best - Shawn Marion
Coming out of UNLV back in 1999, Shawn Marion was the 9th overall selection by the Suns. Although he had a solid rookie season, we can’t even take that into consideration because we’re beginning with the 2000-01 season. Even without that rookie campaign, it’s clear that Marion was among the best Suns players of this millennium so far, reaching the All-Star Game on four occasions.
Marion’s best season came in the 2005-06 campaign in which he scored 21.8 points per game with 11.8 rebounds. Overall, he would average 18.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in more than five seasons with the Suns. Marion would end up making stops in Miami, Toronto, Dallas and Cleveland before his NBA career ended after the 2014-15 season.
4 Worst - Josh Childress
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Josh Childress while he was at Stanford, and he expectedly went early in the 2004 NBA Draft as the Hawks selected him sixth overall. Childress put up some decent numbers during his time in Atlanta, but then decided to go and play overseas for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The Suns would then acquire Childress in a trade, and signed him to a contract that was worth more than $6 million per year.
It turned out that being a star in Greece didn’t quite translate well into the NBA, as Childress lasted just two seasons in Phoenix, scoring 4.2 points per game with 2.8 rebounds. Childress was then let go by the Suns after the 2011-12 season and he played with the Nets and Pelicans before heading back overseas.
3 Best - Amar'e Stoudemire
There wasn’t going to be much question about who the top three players would be on the list, and Amar'e Stoudemire is the clear-cut number two. Stoudemire was the 9th overall pick back in 2002 by Phoenix, and he would stick around until the 2009-10 season. Along the way, Stoudemire was selected to five All-Star teams and was considered one of the best bigs in the game.
Stoudemire averaged an impressive 21.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game during his time in Phoenix, earning him an All-NBA First Team nod and a Rookie of the Year Award along the way. Stoudemire opted out of his contract to end his Suns career, signing with the Knicks. He would also play for the Mavericks and Heat before leaving the NBA to go overseas for the 2016-17 season.
2 Worst - Jalen Rose
One of the most memorable college basketball players of the past 30 years, Jalen Rose, was the 13th overall pick out of Michigan in 1994 by the Nuggets. Rose was a bit of a late bloomer, but would end up reaching more than 20 points per game during the prime of his career. In addition to Denver, Rose played with Indiana, Chicago, Toronto and New York. His final stop in the NBA came in the 2006-07 season with the Suns.
Needless to say, it was clear that Rose’s best days were behind him as he scored just 3.7 points per game with 0.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists. It was a far cry from the 22.1 point per game scorer that Chicago had just a few years prior. Thankfully, it was the Knicks that were paying the bulk of Rose’s contract, so the Suns didn’t lose out too much money-wise.
1 Best - Steve Nash
You probably knew who the top Suns player was going to be when this list started, and it is indeed Steve Nash. Nash was the 15th overall pick in 1996 by the Suns, so we can’t take his first stint into consideration, not that there was much there to see. After spending several years in Dallas, Nash would return to the Suns as a free agent leading into the 2004-05 season, and sticking around until the end of the 2011-12 season.
During that second stint with the Suns, Nash was a five-time All Star that won the MVP Award in 2005 and 2006. In those two MVP seasons, Nash would average at least 15.5 points and 11.5 assists. What’s impressive is that even at his lowest in terms of assists, he was still dishing it out 9.7 times per game. Now, his number 13 is retired by the Suns and hanging from the rafters.
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