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The Best Suns Team Ever

Posted by Neil Paine on May 6, 2010

7493226_Suns_v_WizardsWith a 2-0 lead in their conference semifinal series, this year's Suns team is currently looking like a good bet to defeat their hated archrivals, the San Antonio Spurs, and make the Western Conference Finals. The Suns have never advanced past the Conference Finals in the Nash era, and this year's likely WCF opponents have been a tough nut for Phoenix to crack, but it looks like the 2010 season is shaping up to be as good an opportunity as any in recent memory for Phoenix to make the Finals.

If you had told me a few years ago that we'd be saying this in May of 2010, after Mike D'Antoni departed and Steve Kerr shifted the franchise's direction with the acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal for Shawn Marion, I would have said you were crazy. Even now, this Suns team doesn't "feel" as great as the team that went deep in the 2005/06/07 playoffs, but here they are, with a chance to do something that the earlier incarnations of the Nash Suns never did. So how do these Suns stack up to Phoenix's past playoff teams?

By SRS, which is strictly a regular-season metric, the 2010 Suns are merely the 12th-best Phoenix team to qualify for the playoffs:

Year Team SRS
2007 PHO 7.27
1990 PHO 7.09
2005 PHO 7.08
1989 PHO 6.84
1991 PHO 6.49
1993 PHO 6.27
1992 PHO 5.69
2006 PHO 5.48
2000 PHO 5.24
2008 PHO 5.14
1981 PHO 4.83
2010 PHO 4.68
1994 PHO 4.68
1983 PHO 4.61
1998 PHO 4.44
1995 PHO 3.85
1979 PHO 3.55
1978 PHO 3.50
1980 PHO 3.25
1982 PHO 3.05
2001 PHO 2.63
1999 PHO 2.15
2003 PHO 1.57
1984 PHO 0.65
1976 PHO 0.59
1996 PHO 0.28
1997 PHO 0.21
1970 PHO -1.66
1985 PHO -2.34

However, if you look only at playoff performance and adjust for the regular-season strength of their playoff opponents, they're playing as well as any Phoenix team ever has:

Year Team poMOV oppSRS adjMOV
2010 PHO 9.88 3.65 13.53
2005 PHO 4.20 5.65 9.85
2007 PHO 5.00 4.66 9.66
1989 PHO 7.08 2.11 9.19
1990 PHO 3.06 6.04 9.10
1995 PHO 4.10 2.76 6.86
1992 PHO 1.38 5.39 6.77
1979 PHO 2.80 2.39 5.19
1993 PHO 0.83 3.79 4.62
2006 PHO 1.20 3.29 4.49
1980 PHO -0.75 4.45 3.70
2000 PHO -3.67 7.31 3.64
2008 PHO -2.00 5.10 3.10
1981 PHO 2.71 -0.49 2.22
1984 PHO -0.18 2.38 2.20
1994 PHO -1.50 3.46 1.96
1976 PHO -1.05 2.95 1.90
2003 PHO -5.33 5.65 0.32
1983 PHO -2.00 0.27 -1.73
2001 PHO -9.50 6.07 -3.43
1982 PHO -6.57 2.55 -4.02
1998 PHO -7.50 3.30 -4.20
1970 PHO -6.00 1.76 -4.24
1999 PHO -10.33 5.67 -4.67
1996 PHO -11.00 5.98 -5.03
1997 PHO -12.60 6.91 -5.69
1978 PHO -6.00 -0.59 -6.59
1991 PHO -11.50 3.18 -8.32
1985 PHO -20.33 6.48 -13.85

I have no idea if they can keep it up (regular-season evidence suggests the Spurs will at least give them a fight in San Antonio), but you have to give them credit for their play so far, having surpassed even the lofty heights of the 2005 version that lost to a dominant Spurs team -- not to mention the 1993 & 1976 Conference Champs, both of whom were surprisingly un-dominant en route to the Finals.

Finally, I wondered which Suns team was the most talented, in the sense that the lineup they fielded in a given playoff game had accomplished the most. To that end, I first looked at the minute-weighted average career Win Shares per 48 minutes of their players in every playoff run:

Year Player Pos Age Team G MP careerWS/48 teamAvg
1994 Kevin Johnson PG 27 PHO 10 427 0.178 0.144
1994 Charles Barkley PF 30 PHO 10 425 0.216 0.144
1994 Dan Majerle SG 28 PHO 10 410 0.125 0.144
1994 A.C. Green PF 30 PHO 10 350 0.131 0.144
1994 Danny Ainge SG 34 PHO 10 230 0.124 0.144
1994 Cedric Ceballos SF 24 PHO 10 212 0.132 0.144
1994 Oliver Miller C 23 PHO 10 146 0.089 0.144
1994 Joe Kleine C 32 PHO 8 81 0.062 0.144
1994 Mark West C 33 PHO 7 69 0.100 0.144
1994 Frank Johnson PG 35 PHO 7 46 0.064 0.144
1994 Skeeter Henry G 26 PHO 3 16 -0.087 0.144
1994 Elliot Perry PG 24 PHO 4 13 0.071 0.144
1993 Dan Majerle SG 27 PHO 24 1071 0.125 0.138
1993 Charles Barkley PF 29 PHO 24 1026 0.216 0.138
1993 Kevin Johnson PG 26 PHO 23 914 0.178 0.138
1993 Danny Ainge SG 33 PHO 24 591 0.124 0.138
1993 Oliver Miller C 22 PHO 24 513 0.089 0.138
1993 Richard Dumas PF 23 PHO 23 499 0.097 0.138
1993 Mark West C 32 PHO 24 469 0.100 0.138
1993 Tom Chambers PF 33 PHO 24 376 0.112 0.138
1993 Cedric Ceballos SF 23 PHO 16 185 0.132 0.138
1993 Frank Johnson PG 34 PHO 22 172 0.064 0.138
1993 Negele Knight PG 25 PHO 9 34 0.044 0.138
1993 Jerrod Mustaf PF 23 PHO 7 10 0.043 0.138
1995 Charles Barkley PF 31 PHO 10 390 0.216 0.136
1995 Kevin Johnson PG 28 PHO 10 371 0.178 0.136
1995 A.C. Green PF 31 PHO 10 368 0.131 0.136
1995 Dan Majerle SG 29 PHO 10 307 0.125 0.136
1995 Wesley Person SG 23 PHO 10 247 0.102 0.136
1995 Wayman Tisdale PF 30 PHO 10 170 0.092 0.136
1995 Joe Kleine C 33 PHO 10 167 0.062 0.136
1995 Danny Schayes C 35 PHO 10 146 0.107 0.136
1995 Danny Ainge SG 35 PHO 10 137 0.124 0.136
1995 Elliot Perry PG 25 PHO 9 106 0.071 0.136
1995 Trevor Ruffin PG 24 PHO 5 11 0.032 0.136
1995 Richard Dumas PF 25 PHO 3 5 0.097 0.136
1996 Wesley Person SG 24 PHO 4 183 0.102 0.135
1996 Charles Barkley PF 32 PHO 4 164 0.216 0.135
1996 Kevin Johnson PG 29 PHO 4 151 0.178 0.135
1996 Hot Rod Williams PF 33 PHO 4 115 0.129 0.135
1996 Danny Manning PF 29 PHO 4 90 0.109 0.135
1996 A.C. Green PF 32 PHO 4 87 0.131 0.135
1996 Wayman Tisdale PF 31 PHO 4 67 0.092 0.135
1996 Elliot Perry PG 26 PHO 4 51 0.071 0.135
1996 Chris Carr SG 21 PHO 3 36 0.042 0.135
1996 Mario Bennett PF 22 PHO 2 8 0.153 0.135
1996 Joe Kleine C 34 PHO 2 8 0.062 0.135
2008 Raja Bell SG 31 PHO 5 215 0.085 0.131
2008 Amare Stoudemire C 25 PHO 5 204 0.184 0.131
2008 Steve Nash PG 33 PHO 5 183 0.169 0.131
2008 Boris Diaw PF 25 PHO 5 178 0.084 0.131
2008 Shaquille O'Neal C 35 PHO 5 150 0.209 0.131
2008 Leandro Barbosa SG 25 PHO 5 143 0.112 0.131
2008 Gordan Giricek SG 30 PHO 5 80 0.044 0.131
2008 Grant Hill SF 35 PHO 3 68 0.148 0.131
2008 Brian Skinner PF 31 PHO 4 21 0.070 0.131
2008 D.J. Strawberry SG 22 PHO 1 5 -0.031 0.131
2008 Sean Marks PF 32 PHO 1 3 0.059 0.131
2008 Eric Piatkowski SG 37 PHO 1 2 0.102 0.131
2007 Shawn Marion SF 28 PHO 11 455 0.165 0.131
2007 Raja Bell SG 30 PHO 11 438 0.085 0.131
2007 Steve Nash PG 32 PHO 11 413 0.169 0.131
2007 Leandro Barbosa SG 24 PHO 11 349 0.112 0.131
2007 Amare Stoudemire C 24 PHO 10 343 0.184 0.131
2007 Boris Diaw PF 24 PHO 10 235 0.084 0.131
2007 Kurt Thomas PF 34 PHO 11 212 0.114 0.131
2007 James Jones SF 26 PHO 11 171 0.100 0.131
2007 Jalen Rose SF 34 PHO 1 9 0.081 0.131
2007 Marcus Banks PG 25 PHO 2 7 0.057 0.131
2007 Pat Burke C 33 PHO 3 7 -0.009 0.131
2007 Eric Piatkowski SG 36 PHO 1 3 0.102 0.131
2003 Shawn Marion SF 24 PHO 6 283 0.165 0.130
2003 Stephon Marbury PG 25 PHO 6 271 0.117 0.130
2003 Anfernee Hardaway SG 31 PHO 6 244 0.125 0.130
2003 Amare Stoudemire C 20 PHO 6 203 0.184 0.130
2003 Joe Johnson SG 21 PHO 6 164 0.094 0.130
2003 Jake Voskuhl C 25 PHO 6 98 0.087 0.130
2003 Scott Williams C 34 PHO 6 83 0.104 0.130
2003 Bo Outlaw PF 31 PHO 6 70 0.118 0.130
2003 Casey Jacobsen SG 21 PHO 6 39 0.056 0.130
2003 Tom Gugliotta PF 33 PHO 2 10 0.082 0.130
2005 Shawn Marion SF 26 PHO 15 635 0.165 0.126
2005 Steve Nash PG 30 PHO 15 610 0.169 0.126
2005 Amare Stoudemire C 22 PHO 15 601 0.184 0.126
2005 Quentin Richardson SG 24 PHO 15 564 0.077 0.126
2005 Jim Jackson SG 34 PHO 15 474 0.059 0.126
2005 Joe Johnson SG 23 PHO 9 355 0.094 0.126
2005 Steven Hunter C 23 PHO 15 213 0.085 0.126
2005 Leandro Barbosa SG 22 PHO 12 116 0.112 0.126
2005 Walter McCarty PF 30 PHO 8 55 0.064 0.126
2005 Bo Outlaw PF 33 PHO 1 2 0.118 0.126
2010 Amare Stoudemire C 27 PHO 8 287 0.184 0.125
2010 Steve Nash PG 35 PHO 8 270 0.169 0.125
2010 Jason Richardson SG 29 PHO 8 263 0.097 0.125
2010 Channing Frye PF 26 PHO 8 226 0.093 0.125
2010 Grant Hill SF 37 PHO 8 225 0.148 0.125
2010 Jared Dudley SF 24 PHO 8 178 0.116 0.125
2010 Leandro Barbosa SG 27 PHO 8 121 0.112 0.125
2010 Goran Dragic PG 23 PHO 8 114 0.064 0.125
2010 Louis Amundson PF 27 PHO 8 113 0.097 0.125
2010 Jarron Collins C 31 PHO 8 100 0.090 0.125
2010 Earl Clark SF 22 PHO 3 13 -0.033 0.125
2010 Dwayne Jones PF 26 PHO 2 10 0.104 0.125
1989 Tom Chambers PF 29 PHO 12 495 0.112 0.124
1989 Kevin Johnson PG 22 PHO 12 494 0.178 0.124
1989 Eddie Johnson SF 29 PHO 12 392 0.097 0.124
1989 Jeff Hornacek SG 25 PHO 12 374 0.154 0.124
1989 Dan Majerle SG 23 PHO 12 352 0.125 0.124
1989 Tyrone Corbin SF 26 PHO 12 310 0.098 0.124
1989 Mark West C 28 PHO 12 227 0.100 0.124
1989 Armen Gilliam PF 24 PHO 9 126 0.106 0.124
1989 T.R. Dunn SG 33 PHO 8 79 0.083 0.124
1989 Tim Perry PF 23 PHO 4 17 0.074 0.124
1989 Andrew Lang C 22 PHO 4 8 0.089 0.124
1989 Ed Nealy PF 28 PHO 4 6 0.107 0.124
1990 Tom Chambers PF 30 PHO 16 612 0.112 0.124
1990 Jeff Hornacek SG 26 PHO 16 583 0.154 0.124
1990 Kevin Johnson PG 23 PHO 16 582 0.178 0.124
1990 Mark West C 29 PHO 16 544 0.100 0.124
1990 Dan Majerle SG 24 PHO 16 479 0.125 0.124
1990 Kurt Rambis PF 31 PHO 16 385 0.113 0.124
1990 Eddie Johnson SF 30 PHO 16 337 0.097 0.124
1990 Tim Perry PF 24 PHO 11 100 0.074 0.124
1990 Andrew Lang C 23 PHO 12 93 0.089 0.124
1990 Greg Grant PG 23 PHO 7 47 0.023 0.124
1990 Mike McGee SF 30 PHO 10 44 0.078 0.124
1990 Kenny Battle SG 25 PHO 8 34 0.098 0.124
1992 Jeff Hornacek SG 28 PHO 8 343 0.154 0.122
1992 Kevin Johnson PG 25 PHO 8 335 0.178 0.122
1992 Dan Majerle SG 26 PHO 7 266 0.125 0.122
1992 Tom Chambers PF 32 PHO 7 194 0.112 0.122
1992 Andrew Lang C 25 PHO 8 192 0.089 0.122
1992 Cedric Ceballos SF 22 PHO 8 188 0.132 0.122
1992 Tim Perry PF 26 PHO 8 185 0.074 0.122
1992 Steve Burtt SG 29 PHO 8 104 0.000 0.122
1992 Mark West C 31 PHO 8 96 0.100 0.122
1992 Ed Nealy PF 31 PHO 8 67 0.107 0.122
1991 Kevin Johnson PG 24 PHO 4 146 0.178 0.121
1991 Jeff Hornacek SG 27 PHO 4 145 0.154 0.121
1991 Tom Chambers PF 31 PHO 4 142 0.112 0.121
1991 Dan Majerle SG 25 PHO 4 110 0.125 0.121
1991 Xavier McDaniel SF 27 PHO 4 101 0.091 0.121
1991 Mark West C 30 PHO 4 93 0.100 0.121
1991 Negele Knight PG 23 PHO 4 56 0.044 0.121
1991 Andrew Lang C 24 PHO 4 55 0.089 0.121
1991 Kurt Rambis PF 32 PHO 4 53 0.113 0.121
1991 Cedric Ceballos SF 21 PHO 3 24 0.132 0.121
1991 Ed Nealy PF 30 PHO 2 20 0.107 0.121
1991 Joe Barry Carroll C 32 PHO 2 15 0.075 0.121
1984 Larry Nance PF 24 PHO 17 633 0.171 0.119
1984 Walter Davis SG 29 PHO 17 623 0.128 0.119
1984 Kyle Macy PG 26 PHO 17 620 0.121 0.119
1984 Maurice Lucas PF 31 PHO 17 570 0.106 0.119
1984 James Edwards C 28 PHO 17 463 0.101 0.119
1984 Alvan Adams C 29 PHO 17 312 0.130 0.119
1984 Charles Pittman PF 25 PHO 17 253 0.062 0.119
1984 Paul Westphal SG 33 PHO 17 222 0.155 0.119
1984 Mike Sanders SF 23 PHO 15 152 0.069 0.119
1984 Rod Foster PG 23 PHO 16 128 0.031 0.119
1984 Alvin Scott SF 28 PHO 16 111 0.102 0.119
1984 Rick Robey C 28 PHO 10 43 0.086 0.119
1982 Dennis Johnson SG 27 PHO 7 271 0.110 0.118
1982 Kyle Macy PG 24 PHO 7 243 0.121 0.118
1982 Alvan Adams C 27 PHO 7 233 0.130 0.118
1982 Truck Robinson PF 30 PHO 7 213 0.101 0.118
1982 Rich Kelley C 28 PHO 7 191 0.115 0.118
1982 Walter Davis SG 27 PHO 7 173 0.128 0.118
1982 Larry Nance PF 22 PHO 7 128 0.171 0.118
1982 Alvin Scott SF 26 PHO 7 127 0.102 0.118
1982 Jeff Cook PF 25 PHO 7 45 0.088 0.118
1982 Dudley Bradley SG 24 PHO 7 24 0.078 0.118
1982 Joel Kramer SF 26 PHO 4 20 0.105 0.118
1982 Craig Dykema F 22 PHO 6 12 0.095 0.118
1997 Kevin Johnson PG 30 PHO 5 208 0.178 0.118
1997 Jason Kidd PG 23 PHO 5 207 0.135 0.118
1997 Rex Chapman SG 29 PHO 5 191 0.061 0.118
1997 Wesley Person SG 25 PHO 5 163 0.102 0.118
1997 Danny Manning PF 30 PHO 5 116 0.109 0.118
1997 Cedric Ceballos SF 27 PHO 5 107 0.132 0.118
1997 Hot Rod Williams PF 34 PHO 5 105 0.129 0.118
1997 Mark Bryant PF 31 PHO 4 36 0.093 0.118
1997 Wayman Tisdale PF 32 PHO 4 36 0.092 0.118
1997 Mike Brown C 33 PHO 4 27 0.070 0.118
1997 Steve Nash PG 22 PHO 4 15 0.169 0.118
1997 Loren Meyer C 24 PHO 3 14 0.012 0.118
1983 Walter Davis SG 28 PHO 3 113 0.128 0.116
1983 Dennis Johnson SG 28 PHO 3 108 0.110 0.116
1983 Larry Nance PF 23 PHO 3 103 0.171 0.116
1983 Alvan Adams C 28 PHO 3 84 0.130 0.116
1983 Kyle Macy PG 25 PHO 3 72 0.121 0.116
1983 Alvin Scott SF 27 PHO 3 62 0.102 0.116
1983 Maurice Lucas PF 30 PHO 2 57 0.106 0.116
1983 James Edwards C 27 PHO 3 54 0.101 0.116
1983 Johnny High PG 25 PHO 3 45 0.050 0.116
1983 Rory White SF 23 PHO 3 40 0.058 0.116
1983 Joel Kramer SF 27 PHO 2 6 0.105 0.116
1983 Charles Pittman PF 24 PHO 1 1 0.062 0.116
1998 Jason Kidd PG 24 PHO 4 171 0.135 0.116
1998 Antonio McDyess PF 23 PHO 4 147 0.120 0.116
1998 George McCloud SF 30 PHO 4 126 0.068 0.116
1998 Kevin Johnson PG 31 PHO 4 122 0.178 0.116
1998 Mark Bryant PF 32 PHO 4 93 0.093 0.116
1998 Clifford Robinson PF 31 PHO 4 92 0.101 0.116
1998 Dennis Scott SF 29 PHO 4 62 0.089 0.116
1998 Rex Chapman SG 30 PHO 2 58 0.061 0.116
1998 Steve Nash PG 23 PHO 4 51 0.169 0.116
1998 Hot Rod Williams PF 35 PHO 3 33 0.129 0.116
1998 Marko Milic SG 20 PHO 2 4 0.047 0.116
1998 Mike Brown C 34 PHO 1 1 0.070 0.116
2006 Shawn Marion SF 27 PHO 20 849 0.165 0.116
2006 Steve Nash PG 31 PHO 20 798 0.169 0.116
2006 Boris Diaw PF 23 PHO 20 796 0.084 0.116
2006 Raja Bell SG 29 PHO 17 673 0.085 0.116
2006 Tim Thomas SF 28 PHO 20 636 0.079 0.116
2006 Leandro Barbosa SG 23 PHO 20 632 0.112 0.116
2006 James Jones SF 25 PHO 20 353 0.100 0.116
2006 Eddie House SG 27 PHO 14 130 0.075 0.116
2006 Brian Grant PF 33 PHO 5 12 0.122 0.116
2006 Nikoloz Tskitishvili PF 22 PHO 4 8 -0.039 0.116
2006 Pat Burke C 32 PHO 3 7 -0.009 0.116
2006 Kurt Thomas PF 33 PHO 1 6 0.114 0.116
2000 Anfernee Hardaway SG 28 PHO 9 386 0.125 0.113
2000 Clifford Robinson PF 33 PHO 9 333 0.101 0.113
2000 Shawn Marion SF 21 PHO 9 281 0.165 0.113
2000 Rodney Rogers SF 28 PHO 9 263 0.085 0.113
2000 Jason Kidd PG 26 PHO 6 229 0.135 0.113
2000 Corie Blount PF 31 PHO 9 162 0.088 0.113
2000 Luc Longley C 31 PHO 9 162 0.070 0.113
2000 Kevin Johnson PG 33 PHO 9 129 0.178 0.113
2000 Todd Day SG 30 PHO 9 100 0.069 0.113
2000 Randy Livingston PG 24 PHO 7 63 0.041 0.113
2000 Oliver Miller C 29 PHO 7 37 0.089 0.113
2000 Toby Bailey SG 24 PHO 5 15 0.072 0.113
2001 Jason Kidd PG 27 PHO 4 166 0.135 0.111
2001 Shawn Marion SF 22 PHO 4 139 0.165 0.111
2001 Tony Delk PG 27 PHO 4 114 0.080 0.111
2001 Clifford Robinson PF 34 PHO 4 114 0.101 0.111
2001 Mario Elie SG 37 PHO 4 103 0.126 0.111
2001 Tom Gugliotta PF 31 PHO 4 86 0.082 0.111
2001 Rodney Rogers SF 29 PHO 4 82 0.085 0.111
2001 Jake Tsakalidis C 21 PHO 4 75 0.095 0.111
2001 Vinny Del Negro SG 34 PHO 3 26 0.101 0.111
2001 Chris Dudley C 35 PHO 3 26 0.077 0.111
2001 Elliot Perry PG 31 PHO 2 17 0.071 0.111
2001 Daniel Santiago C 24 PHO 1 12 0.064 0.111
1981 Dennis Johnson SG 26 PHO 7 267 0.110 0.106
1981 Truck Robinson PF 29 PHO 7 233 0.101 0.106
1981 Alvan Adams C 26 PHO 7 218 0.130 0.106
1981 Jeff Cook PF 24 PHO 7 206 0.088 0.106
1981 Walter Davis SG 26 PHO 7 199 0.128 0.106
1981 Alvin Scott SF 25 PHO 7 120 0.102 0.106
1981 Johnny High PG 23 PHO 7 117 0.050 0.106
1981 Rich Kelley C 27 PHO 7 113 0.115 0.106
1981 Kyle Macy PG 23 PHO 7 102 0.121 0.106
1981 Joel Kramer SF 25 PHO 7 101 0.105 0.106
1981 Mike Niles SF 25 PHO 2 4 -0.062 0.106
1970 Connie Hawkins SF 27 PHO 7 328 0.150 0.106
1970 Paul Silas PF 26 PHO 7 286 0.110 0.106
1970 Gail Goodrich SG 26 PHO 7 265 0.109 0.106
1970 Dick Van Arsdale SG 26 PHO 7 255 0.114 0.106
1970 Jim Fox C 26 PHO 6 174 0.116 0.106
1970 Art Harris SG 23 PHO 7 89 -0.016 0.106
1970 Jerry Chambers SF 26 PHO 7 73 0.043 0.106
1970 Stan McKenzie SF 25 PHO 7 71 0.093 0.106
1970 Lamar Green PF 22 PHO 6 69 0.048 0.106
1970 Neal Walk C 21 PHO 5 63 0.105 0.106
1970 Neil Johnson PF 26 PHO 2 7 0.075 0.106
1979 Paul Westphal SG 28 PHO 15 534 0.155 0.105
1979 Don Buse PG 28 PHO 15 512 0.095 0.105
1979 Walter Davis SG 24 PHO 15 490 0.128 0.105
1979 Truck Robinson PF 27 PHO 15 392 0.101 0.105
1979 Alvan Adams C 24 PHO 12 372 0.130 0.105
1979 Gar Heard PF 30 PHO 15 320 0.066 0.105
1979 Mike Bratz PG 23 PHO 15 293 0.050 0.105
1979 Joel Kramer SF 23 PHO 15 257 0.105 0.105
1979 Alvin Scott SF 23 PHO 15 217 0.102 0.105
1979 Bayard Forrest C 24 PHO 14 110 0.060 0.105
1979 Ted McClain SG 32 PHO 14 103 0.064 0.105
1980 Paul Westphal SG 29 PHO 8 253 0.155 0.103
1980 Alvan Adams C 25 PHO 8 251 0.130 0.103
1980 Walter Davis SG 25 PHO 8 245 0.128 0.103
1980 Don Buse PG 29 PHO 8 236 0.095 0.103
1980 Gar Heard PF 31 PHO 8 223 0.066 0.103
1980 Mike Bratz PG 24 PHO 8 169 0.050 0.103
1980 Rich Kelley C 26 PHO 8 146 0.115 0.103
1980 Alvin Scott SF 24 PHO 8 140 0.102 0.103
1980 Johnny High PG 22 PHO 8 120 0.050 0.103
1980 Jeff Cook PF 23 PHO 7 98 0.088 0.103
1980 Truck Robinson PF 28 PHO 3 64 0.101 0.103
1978 Don Buse PG 27 PHO 2 76 0.095 0.099
1978 Alvan Adams C 23 PHO 2 71 0.130 0.099
1978 Walter Davis SG 23 PHO 2 66 0.128 0.099
1978 Paul Westphal SG 27 PHO 2 66 0.155 0.099
1978 Gar Heard PF 29 PHO 2 62 0.066 0.099
1978 Ron Lee PG 25 PHO 2 41 0.054 0.099
1978 Alvin Scott SF 22 PHO 2 37 0.102 0.099
1978 Greg Griffin SF 25 PHO 2 25 -0.011 0.099
1978 Dennis Awtrey C 29 PHO 2 24 0.076 0.099
1978 Mike Bratz PG 22 PHO 2 9 0.050 0.099
1978 Bayard Forrest C 23 PHO 1 3 0.060 0.099
1976 Gar Heard PF 27 PHO 19 721 0.066 0.097
1976 Paul Westphal SG 25 PHO 19 685 0.155 0.097
1976 Alvan Adams C 21 PHO 19 668 0.130 0.097
1976 Curtis Perry PF 27 PHO 19 615 0.104 0.097
1976 Ricky Sobers SG 23 PHO 19 563 0.067 0.097
1976 Dick Van Arsdale SG 32 PHO 19 472 0.114 0.097
1976 Keith Erickson SF 31 PHO 19 426 0.064 0.097
1976 Dennis Awtrey C 27 PHO 19 286 0.076 0.097
1976 Phil Lumpkin PG 24 PHO 17 136 0.028 0.097
1976 Nate Hawthorne SG 26 PHO 15 81 0.041 0.097
1976 Pat Riley SG 30 PHO 5 27 0.026 0.097
1976 John Wetzel SG 31 PHO 2 5 0.068 0.097
1999 Jason Kidd PG 25 PHO 3 126 0.135 0.092
1999 Tom Gugliotta PF 29 PHO 3 118 0.082 0.092
1999 Clifford Robinson PF 32 PHO 3 117 0.101 0.092
1999 George McCloud SF 31 PHO 3 80 0.068 0.092
1999 Danny Manning PF 32 PHO 3 79 0.109 0.092
1999 Rex Chapman SG 31 PHO 3 57 0.061 0.092
1999 Pat Garrity PF 22 PHO 3 52 0.081 0.092
1999 Luc Longley C 30 PHO 3 51 0.070 0.092
1999 Randy Livingston PG 23 PHO 3 24 0.041 0.092
1999 Chris Morris SF 33 PHO 1 10 0.096 0.092
1999 Joe Kleine C 37 PHO 1 5 0.062 0.092
1999 Gerald Brown SG 23 PHO 1 1 -0.060 0.092
1985 Mike Sanders SF 24 PHO 3 91 0.069 0.086
1985 Jay Humphries PG 22 PHO 3 90 0.094 0.086
1985 Kyle Macy PG 27 PHO 3 85 0.121 0.086
1985 Maurice Lucas PF 32 PHO 3 84 0.106 0.086
1985 Charles Pittman PF 26 PHO 3 82 0.062 0.086
1985 Alvan Adams C 30 PHO 3 79 0.130 0.086
1985 Alvin Scott SF 29 PHO 3 64 0.102 0.086
1985 Rod Foster PG 24 PHO 3 56 0.031 0.086
1985 Mike Holton PG 23 PHO 3 55 0.039 0.086
1985 Charles Jones PF 23 PHO 2 34 0.072 0.086

I also looked at all of the Suns' single-game lineups since 1991 using the SPM method for "expected efficiency differential" I outlined in this post:

Date Team Pts Opp Pts Location Win xED
6/9/1993 PHO 92 CHI 100 H 0 13.68
5/4/1993 PHO 107 LAL 102 A 1 13.02
6/20/1993 PHO 98 CHI 99 H 0 12.92
6/16/1993 PHO 105 CHI 111 A 0 12.86
5/16/1993 PHO 103 SAS 117 A 0 12.74
5/9/1993 PHO 112 LAL 104 H 1 12.43
5/11/1993 PHO 98 SAS 89 H 1 12.32
6/18/1993 PHO 108 CHI 98 A 1 12.19
5/30/2005 PHO 111 SAS 106 A 1 12.07
6/1/2005 PHO 95 SAS 101 H 0 11.98
5/2/1993 PHO 81 LAL 86 H 0 11.98
5/24/2005 PHO 108 SAS 111 H 0 11.94
5/18/1993 PHO 109 SAS 97 H 1 11.86
5/26/1993 PHO 99 SEA 103 H 0 11.80
6/13/1993 PHO 129 CHI 121 A 1 11.78
5/20/1993 PHO 102 SAS 100 A 1 11.77
5/6/1993 PHO 101 LAL 86 A 1 11.71
5/11/2005 PHO 106 DAL 108 H 0 11.65
5/18/2005 PHO 114 DAL 108 H 1 11.54
5/15/1993 PHO 96 SAS 111 A 0 11.50
5/1/2005 PHO 123 MEM 115 A 1 11.49
6/1/1993 PHO 120 SEA 114 H 1 11.47
6/11/1993 PHO 108 CHI 111 H 0 11.42
5/11/1994 PHO 124 HOU 117 A 1 11.35
4/22/2007 PHO 95 LAL 87 H 1 11.31
4/27/2005 PHO 108 MEM 103 H 1 11.29
5/13/2005 PHO 119 DAL 102 A 1 11.23
5/13/1993 PHO 109 SAS 103 H 1 11.19
5/28/2005 PHO 92 SAS 102 A 0 11.18
5/15/2005 PHO 109 DAL 119 A 0 11.10
5/8/1994 PHO 91 HOU 87 A 1 11.09
4/29/2007 PHO 113 LAL 100 A 1 10.98
5/14/2007 PHO 104 SAS 98 A 1 10.96
5/28/1993 PHO 104 SEA 97 A 1 10.95
5/18/2007 PHO 106 SAS 114 A 0 10.55
5/30/1993 PHO 101 SEA 120 A 0 10.52
4/26/2007 PHO 89 LAL 95 A 0 10.51
5/20/2005 PHO 130 DAL 126 A 1 10.49
5/6/2007 PHO 106 SAS 111 H 0 10.45
6/5/1993 PHO 123 SEA 110 H 1 10.36
4/29/2005 PHO 110 MEM 90 A 1 10.18
5/2/2007 PHO 119 LAL 110 H 1 10.02
6/3/1993 PHO 102 SEA 118 A 0 10.02
5/13/1994 PHO 102 HOU 118 H 0 9.96
5/9/2005 PHO 127 DAL 102 H 1 9.85
5/4/1994 PHO 140 GSW 133 A 1 9.59
5/22/2005 PHO 114 SAS 121 H 0 9.58
6/3/2006 PHO 93 DAL 102 H 0 9.48
4/24/2005 PHO 114 MEM 103 H 1 9.47
4/27/1991 PHO 102 UTA 92 H 1 9.46
5/3/1997 PHO 92 SEA 116 A 0 9.39
5/24/1993 PHO 105 SEA 91 H 1 9.30
4/29/1994 PHO 111 GSW 104 H 1 9.17
5/12/2006 PHO 94 LAC 91 A 1 9.13
5/15/1994 PHO 96 HOU 107 H 0 9.10
5/8/2007 PHO 101 SAS 81 H 1 9.09
5/12/2007 PHO 101 SAS 108 A 0 9.05
5/1/1997 PHO 115 SEA 122 H 0 8.97
5/18/2006 PHO 106 LAC 118 A 0 8.95
5/8/2006 PHO 130 LAC 123 H 1 8.89
5/16/2007 PHO 85 SAS 88 H 0 8.86
5/16/2006 PHO 125 LAC 118 H 1 8.84
5/21/1994 PHO 94 HOU 104 A 0 8.77
4/23/2006 PHO 107 LAL 102 H 1 8.74
5/22/2006 PHO 127 LAC 107 H 1 8.62
4/29/1997 PHO 110 SEA 103 H 1 8.58
4/30/2006 PHO 98 LAL 99 A 0 8.51
4/28/2006 PHO 92 LAL 99 A 0 8.50
5/1/1994 PHO 117 GSW 111 H 1 8.50
5/4/2006 PHO 126 LAL 118 A 1 8.50
5/2/2006 PHO 114 LAL 97 H 1 8.45
5/28/2006 PHO 88 DAL 95 H 0 8.25
5/5/1992 PHO 111 POR 113 A 0 8.25
5/12/2000 PHO 99 LAL 105 H 0 8.21
5/11/1992 PHO 151 POR 153 H 0 8.16
4/26/2006 PHO 93 LAL 99 H 0 8.11
5/14/2000 PHO 117 LAL 98 H 1 8.09
4/24/1992 PHO 117 SAS 111 H 1 8.03
5/2/1995 PHO 117 POR 109 A 1 8.00
5/24/2006 PHO 121 DAL 118 A 1 7.87
5/16/2000 PHO 65 LAL 87 A 0 7.80
5/7/2000 PHO 77 LAL 105 A 0 7.77
4/30/1991 PHO 98 UTA 107 A 0 7.77
5/26/2006 PHO 98 DAL 105 A 0 7.65
5/14/2006 PHO 107 LAC 114 A 0 7.60
5/7/1992 PHO 119 POR 126 A 0 7.51
6/1/2006 PHO 101 DAL 117 A 0 7.39
5/14/1995 PHO 114 HOU 110 A 1 7.34
5/3/1991 PHO 93 UTA 101 A 0 7.29
4/30/1993 PHO 103 LAL 107 H 0 7.19
5/10/1999 PHO 99 POR 110 A 0 7.17
5/9/1992 PHO 124 POR 117 H 1 7.12
5/2/2000 PHO 89 SAS 78 H 1 7.09
5/19/1994 PHO 103 HOU 89 H 1 7.05
5/12/1999 PHO 93 POR 103 H 0 7.01
5/14/1992 PHO 106 POR 118 A 0 6.96
5/10/2000 PHO 96 LAL 97 A 0 6.88
5/6/2006 PHO 121 LAL 90 H 1 6.69
5/20/1995 PHO 114 HOU 115 H 0 6.46
5/30/2006 PHO 106 DAL 86 H 1 6.39
5/18/1995 PHO 103 HOU 116 A 0 6.11
5/5/2010 PHO 110 SAS 102 H 1 6.11
4/30/1995 PHO 103 POR 94 H 1 6.07
5/3/2010 PHO 111 SAS 102 H 1 6.06
5/10/2006 PHO 97 LAC 122 H 0 6.00
5/8/1999 PHO 85 POR 95 A 0 5.95
4/29/2000 PHO 101 SAS 94 H 1 5.87
4/28/1995 PHO 129 POR 102 H 1 5.78
4/28/1996 PHO 105 SAS 110 A 0 5.62
4/26/1992 PHO 119 SAS 107 H 1 5.51
5/16/1995 PHO 97 HOU 103 H 0 5.37
4/18/2010 PHO 100 POR 105 H 0 5.34
4/22/2010 PHO 108 POR 89 A 1 5.27
4/25/1997 PHO 106 SEA 101 A 1 5.21
4/27/1998 PHO 88 SAS 100 A 0 5.21
4/24/2010 PHO 87 POR 96 A 0 4.88
4/23/1998 PHO 96 SAS 102 H 0 4.86
4/29/1998 PHO 80 SAS 99 A 0 4.71
4/29/2010 PHO 99 POR 90 A 1 4.57
4/24/2007 PHO 126 LAL 98 H 1 4.53
4/22/2001 PHO 86 SAC 83 A 1 4.50
5/2/2001 PHO 82 SAC 89 H 0 4.44
4/29/2003 PHO 82 SAS 94 A 0 4.36
4/29/1992 PHO 101 SAS 92 A 1 4.16
4/25/2000 PHO 70 SAS 85 A 0 3.96
4/19/2003 PHO 96 SAS 95 A 1 3.94
5/1/1996 PHO 94 SAS 93 H 1 3.62
4/19/2008 PHO 115 SAS 117 A 0 3.60
4/22/2008 PHO 96 SAS 102 A 0 3.55
5/17/1994 PHO 86 HOU 109 A 0 3.49
4/25/2008 PHO 99 SAS 115 H 0 3.48
4/26/2010 PHO 107 POR 88 H 1 3.46
5/1/2003 PHO 85 SAS 87 H 0 3.45
4/22/2000 PHO 72 SAS 70 A 1 3.32
4/21/2003 PHO 76 SAS 84 A 0 3.22
4/25/1998 PHO 108 SAS 101 H 1 3.20
4/20/2010 PHO 119 POR 90 H 1 3.20
5/11/1995 PHO 118 HOU 94 H 1 3.00
4/29/2001 PHO 96 SAC 104 H 0 2.95
5/9/1995 PHO 130 HOU 108 H 1 2.70
4/25/2003 PHO 86 SAS 99 H 0 2.45
4/25/1991 PHO 90 UTA 129 H 0 2.34
4/26/1996 PHO 98 SAS 120 A 0 2.18
4/29/2008 PHO 87 SAS 92 A 0 2.04
4/27/2003 PHO 86 SAS 84 H 1 2.02
5/13/1995 PHO 85 HOU 118 A 0 1.55
4/27/1997 PHO 78 SEA 122 A 0 1.15
5/3/1996 PHO 98 SAS 116 H 0 1.04
4/27/2008 PHO 105 SAS 86 H 1 -1.40
4/25/2001 PHO 90 SAC 116 A 0 -2.28

By this measure, the Suns' best lineup (since '91) came in Game 1 of the '93 Finals, though unfortunately they were bested by Chicago (in no small part due to a terrible performance by future Fantasy Basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Johnson), lost home-court advantage, and ended up losing the series. Most of Phoenix's best lineups came in the 1993 postseason, but a few from 2005 also slipped in, including this one in Game 4 of the 2005 WCF vs. San Antonio:

Date Team Player Pos Opp GS MP SPM
5/30/2005 PHO Shawn Marion SF SAS 1 45 5.74
5/30/2005 PHO Steve Nash PG SAS 1 42 3.34
5/30/2005 PHO Joe Johnson SG SAS 1 41 -0.64
5/30/2005 PHO Quentin Richardson SG SAS 1 40 1.45
5/30/2005 PHO Amare Stoudemire C SAS 1 37 5.60
5/30/2005 PHO Jim Jackson SG SAS 0 21 -2.07
5/30/2005 PHO Steven Hunter C SAS 0 14 -1.06

Joe Johnson had a broken orbital bone and was wearing a mask, but he still managed to score 26 points on 10-15 shooting, staving off a Spurs sweep (and somehow this performance didn't make the top elimination-games list?).

The best 2010 Suns lineup by that metric came last night, but it was just 102nd overall, behind a lineup where George McCloud, Luc Longley, and Pat Garrity played key roles. That said, the stats seem to have been underestimating the Suns all season, so this could just be more fuel for what has been an impressive playoff run so far by Phoenix.

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6 Responses to “The Best Suns Team Ever”

  1. ScottR. Says:

    The pre-Shaq Suns with Shawn Marion were certainly more exciting to watch than this current group, but they could not handle the Spurs back then, who were at their peak. (Maybe they beat the Spurs the year Amare got suspended after coming off the bench.) Anyway, now that the Spurs are in decline the Suns look like they will advance. This current Suns team is much more conventional than the 2005-2008 Suns and values scrappy guys who DiAntoni probably never would have let on the court since they are not necessarily the most skilled type players. But guys that can rebound and to garbage stuff are sometimes very important to a team's overall success.

  2. Trev Says:

    By your metrics, do this years Suns look better when they start Robin Lopez or Channing Frye over Jarron Collins?

  3. therealbob(a.k.a. bob) Says:

    I really want the Suns to "Beat the Spurs" as the crowd had chanted because 1) We want revenge and 2)I want all the people saying the Spurs will win to eat their words. The Suns have matured so much and know how to win besides in transition and yet hardly anybody is giving them credit!

  4. nick Says:

    I called it when I saw the heading. '93 suns all the way. they were the team of "destiny", except of course for jordan and the Bulls coming in and spoiling it.

  5. Jason J Says:

    I'm a big Bulls fan and do believe that in '93 nobody but nobody was beating Michael, however, Suns fans have to wonder what would have happened if Ced Ceballos had been available and Chuck hadn't hurt his elbow.

  6. Make My Computer Faster Says:

    Finally a blog that didnt contradict it self, amazing writing. :)