Building a winning team in any sport can be a tricky process, but the basic rule of thumb seems to be to keep the players you feel can play a role in your master plan when you figure out who they are. Sometimes those players are identified early on, but the pressure to win now sometimes forces a team to give up on a player or players a little prematurely. That is the biggest problem the Phoenix Suns have had according to former Sun and current Miami Heat player Goran Dragic.
“It feels like they’re always changing something,” Dragic said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “They’re not like Miami, San Antonio, those teams that are really loyal when they find something.”
Dragic spent two different stints with the Suns, so he got an idea of how the organization operated for better or for worse. Tired of the constant changes, Dragic demanded a trade from the Suns last year, which ended up landing him in Miami.
“I always believe when you find some pieces that you leave those pieces [alone]. But then you upgrade the other positions. Like San Antonio is doing. They always have the Big Three, but then it’s a good team. They always find another player at another position, so they’re always good. But that’s not my call,” Dragic told Yahoo, with an uncomfortable chuckle. “I was just there to play basketball. I tried to do my job.”
In theory, Dragic has a point. If you are fortunate enough to find key players that can be the glue of your team the way San Antonio has with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and you see what they are capable of doing with the right pieces around them (also, having a really good coach helps), then your job becomes a bit easier. But what if you don’t have a future Hall of Famer on the roster that has played the same role since he was drafted? What if you don’t have those franchise players the way San Antonio has or Miami has with Dwayne Wade or Cleveland has with LeBron James? Then you enter quite a different world in the NBA where constant changes are sometimes needed.
Of course, it also starts with leadership to establish the tone for the franchise. Every successful franchise needs to have the right vision from the top, and right now Suns owner Robert Sarver is busy blaming the millennial culture for the current troubles in Phonix. And perhaps that supports Dragic’s point. If Millennials expect results now and they are not getting it, then the demand to change quickly follows. That is the trap Phoenix may have fallen into.