In 2014, former azcentral sports’ Suns beat reporter Paul Coro ranked the team’s first round NBA draft picks from 1969 to 2013.
There were 42 of them.
His rankings were based on each player’s production and impact with the Suns, where each player was drafted, the era of each pick, what draft possibilities were passed over and each player’s value in his departure from the Suns.
Players whom the Suns drafted on behalf of another team in a draft-day deal were not included.
Why do we bring this up now?
How different could these rankings be in a few years?
It’s early, but the selection of Devin Booker in 2015 is looking better and better (Last year, Coro said that he considered Booker a threat to crack the Nos. 8-10 area soon).
It was too early to rank the Suns’ 2014 first-round picks when Coro compiled this list. Might T.J. Warren eventually develop into a solid player?
Might the additions of Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Tyler Ulis in the 2016 draft pay off?
We’re pretty sure the Suns wouldn’t mind seeing some new names on this list soon.
Paul Coro’s Top 10 first-round Suns draft picks:
10. Michael Finley
No. 21 in 1995: Finley was drafted behind several busts but became an All-Rookie first team performer when he averaged 15 points for Phoenix. The Suns traded him 27 games into his second season with Sam Cassell and A.C. Green for Jason Kidd, Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer. He later became a two-time All-Star with a 15-year career.
9. Neal Walk
No. 2 in 1969: Walk is unfairly painted as the consolation prize in the coin flip the Suns lost for the No. 1 pick to get Lew Alcindor. Walk posted five fine seasons for Phoenix, including averaging 20.2 points and 12.4 rebounds and 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in his final two Suns seasons. Walk was traded with a second-round pick in 1974 to New Orleans for Dennis Awtrey, Curtis Perry, Nate Hawthorne and a first-round pick that became Ricky Sobers.
8. Leandro Barbosa
No. 28 in 2003: The Suns gave up a 2005 first-round pick in a draft-day deal with San Antonio to pick Barbosa, who became a Sixth Man Award winner and averaged 12.6 points over six seasons with Phoenix. He has more career points than 20 of the 27 players picked before him. The Brazilian Blur was a popular, energizing reserve but requested a trade in 2010, when he was dealt to Toronto for Hedo Turkoglu. He returned to the team for part of the 2013 season.
7. Walter Davis
No. 5 in 1977: The Suns’ all-time leading scorer (15,666 points) was Rookie of the Year in 1977-78 and a six-time All-Star. Sweet D averaged at least 20 points per game in six of his Suns seasons. He is a Ring of Honor member but had his legacy tainted by two drug rehabilitation stints and a team drug scandal before he left as a free agent in 1988.
6. Alvan Adams
No. 4 in 1974: The Oklahoma Kid played 13 NBA seasons, all with the Suns. He was NBA Rookie of the Year in 1975 and led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1976, when he was an All-Star. He is the Suns’ all-time leader in games, minutes, rebounds and steals and second in points and third in assists as a center. He remains with the Suns as vice president of facility management at US Airways Center.
5. Dan Majerle
No. 14 in 1988: Majerle had a 14-year career, including eight with Phoenix despite having his selection booed by Suns fans. He was a three-time All-Star who led the NBA in 3-pointers twice and was All-Defensive second team twice. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in his best Suns season as a sixth man. He helped the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993 and then was traded to Cleveland with Andrew Lang and a first-round pick for Hot Rod Williams in 1995.
SUNS DRAFT HISTORY: Ryan McDonough’s first-round picks
4. Larry Nance
No. 20 in 1981: Nance averaged 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds with the Suns despite rookie averages of 6.6 and 3.2. He played 6 ½ seasons, including one as an All-Star, for Phoenix before being traded to Cleveland in 1988 for Kevin Johnson, Mark West, Tyrone Corbin and a pick that became Dan Majerle. Only Buck Williams had more career points and rebounds than Nance in the 1981 draft. Nance has held the Suns’ single-season record for blocks for 30 years.
3. Shawn Marion
No. 9 in 1999: Marion was a four-time All-Star for Phoenix, where he played the first 8 ½ of his 14 seasons and averaged 18.4 points and 10.0 rebounds. In franchise history, he is second in steals and rebounds, fourth in points and third in blocks. He was top seven in the league for steals in six consecutive seasons. Phoenix traded him and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O’Neal. He is the most productive player of his draft class.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire
No. 9 in 2002: At a draft workout, Jerry Colangelo crossed his legs and asked, “Now why wouldn’t we take him?” They did and got the first five of his six All-Star seasons. He was Rookie of the Year and made All-NBA first team once and second team three times with the Suns. He averaged 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds for Phoenix before asking for a sign-and-trade deal to go to New York.
1. Steve Nash
No. 15 in 1996: Nash did not get to shine in his first stint with the Suns behind Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson but his friendship with teammate Rex Chapman helped pave the way for a free-agency return when Chapman was a Suns executive. Nobody has ever drafted an MVP lower, let alone a two-time MVP. The franchise assists leader and eight-time All-Star retired following an injury-riddled chapter with the Lakers.
Note: Last year, Coro said his Top 10 would still be the same, even though this list was compiled in 2014 (but Devin Booker is on pace to alter this list a bit soon).
To see Paul Coro’s rankings of every Suns’ first-round draft pick from 1969 to 2013, click here.
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