The Phoenix Suns has yet to capture its first NBA championship throughout its 52-year stint in the NBA. Nonetheless, Phoenix has found relative success throughout its history. They made the playoffs 24 times in a three-decade span from 1980 to 2010.
However, the past decade has not been very kind to them. They currently hold the 2nd longest active playoff drought in the NBA with 10 straight missed postseasons, which is now their longest drought in franchise history. Despite picking in the lottery for 10 years now, the franchise hasn’t been able to build a winning roster, though they showed plenty of promise when they went 8-0 in the bubble games.
Being in the desert, Phoenix isn’t also a prime destination for marquee free agents. Thus, the Suns need to navigate the trade market and draft well to land franchise stars. The draft can sometimes boil down to a hit or miss. For the most part over the past decade, it’s been a miss for Phoenix.
Nonetheless, the Suns have hit the jackpot on a number of occasions. Here are the best draft picks in Phoenix Suns history.
Playing mostly in the 1990s, Dan Majerle isn’t one of the first players people would mention when they’re asked to name the best guards of that era. Of course, Michael Jordan pretty much stood above everyone else, but Majerle’s name still often gets forgotten.
Nonetheless, Suns fans still regard Thunder Dan as one of the franchise’s more memorable players of all time. Phoenix drafted Majerle with the 14th pick in the 1988 NBA draft. The 6-foot-6 guard initially came off the bench but eventually worked his way towards the starting role. Majerle went on to make three All-Star appearances and two All-Defensive nods in a Suns uniform. He was also a vital piece in their NBA Finals run in 1992, which remains as Phoenix’s only Finals appearance in their history.
In eight seasons with the Suns, including one at the end of his career, Majerle turned in averages of 13.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Arguably his best campaign came in the 1991-92 season, the same year the Suns made the Finals.
As mentioned, the Suns have had busts with their high lottery picks over the years. In 2015, however, Phoenix got lucky with Devin Booker. Selected at no. 13, the Kentucky standout was definitely a steal for the Suns.
Phoenix, however, is still looking to make their first playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. Since drafting Booker, the Suns have failed to build a winning squad around their current franchise star. This season, however, the 2019-20 Suns came close to making the postseason, after they went on a magical 8-o run in the bubble games.
It remains to be seen where the 23-year old eventually ends up in terms of Phoenix’s top draft picks of all time. Suns fans certainly hope their bubble run is an indication of good things to come and eventually fuels a successful run with Booker leading the way.
Phoenix selected Shawn Marion with the 9th overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft. Despite missing 31 games due to a knee injury, the UNLV standout still made the All-Rookie Second Team in his debut campaign.
Marion didn’t waste time becoming a star for the Suns, marked by his all-around play from both ends of the floor. He made his first All-Star team in 2003, and along with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, he helped lead the Suns to one of their best stretches in franchise history. Nash and Stoudemire may have been the more known dynamic duo in Phoenix, but Marion became the Swiss Army knife that pretty much did all the dirty work for them.
In eight-plus seasons with the Suns, Marion averaged 18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks. The 6-foot-7 forward made all of his four All-Star teams as a member of the Suns, while also getting two All-NBA nods.
Though the 6-foot-7 forward never won an NBA championship with the team that drafted him, he became a key cog that helped the Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA championship in 2011.
One of the most explosive big men in the 2000’s, the Suns landed Amare Stoudemire with the 9th overall pick the 2002 NBA draft. The Cypress Creek high school stud didn’t waste time marking his stamp in the league as he won the 2002-03 Rookie of the Year award.
STAT had the best days of his career wearing a Suns uniform. He made five of his six All-Star appearances while playing in Phoenix. Likewise, four of his five All-NBA selections came with the Suns, including a First Team nod in 2006-07.
Stoudemire and Steve Nash created one of the best dynamic duos in the NBA. Their chemistry was on point from day one, and together, they led the Suns’ renaissance in the 2000’s. Unfortunately, the two were never able to lead Phoenix to an NBA championship.
Nonetheless, Stoudemire is still undoubtedly one of the most iconic Suns players of all time. In eight seasons at the Desert, including a lost 2005-06 campaign where he just played three games due to a knee injury, the 6-time All-Star averaged 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds.
Steve Nash is arguably the greatest Phoenix Suns player of all time. The Suns drafted him in 1996 with the 15th overall pick, though he didn’t quite make a great impression in his first run at the desert. In fact, Phoenix traded the Canadian to the Dallas Mavericks after the 1997-98 season. In exchange for Nash, the Mavs sent back a package that included a first-round pick that later turned out to be Shawn Marion.
Nash spent six seasons in Dallas and there, he established himself as an All-Star point guard. However, after consecutive disappointing playoff exits, the Mavericks let the Santa Clara standout walk away in the summer of 2004.
Nash went back to Phoenix and became the face of one of the greatest eras in Suns history. He won back-to-back MVPs with the Suns. With Stoudemire, they led Phoenix to multiple conference Finals appearances in the 2000’s. Unfortunately, though they were perennial title favorites, they never got over the hump and ultimately failed to bring a championship in Phoenix.
Nash may not have found success in Phoenix early in his career when they drafted him as a 22-year old in 1996. Nonetheless, perhaps experiencing being with the franchise led to his return in 2004 and that sparked the most exciting stretch in the history of Suns basketball.