PHOENIX — In the past year, the Suns have kicked the pace of their rebuilding enterprise into overdrive.
And during the process, suspects became prospects, good players became very good players, a coaching sharpie was established and Phoenix returned to the list of NBA destination cities.
This unscheduled uprising did, however, produce at least one negative variable.
Take a bow, expectation, because you’ve reached warp drive, too.
"We don’t want to be a team that’s just happy winning 48 games and challenging for a playoff spot," general manager Ryan McDonough.
Oh, we weren’t referring to him. For the record, McDonough has no connection to the negative variable in question.
The rest of us do.
The rest of us, inspired by the Suns possessing three first-round picks in a mother-lode-caliber NBA Draft, seemed to have been expecting the next great Phoenix player to emerge from the green room.
Or by simply packaging some picks and one of those aforementioned prospects, McDonough could have presented Suns followers with a transactional gem.
Recollecting last year’s maneuvers, we now seem to think making these deals is easy.
So, when the Suns used their first two draft picks on T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis — prospects listed a bit lower in the presumptive pecking order by mostly amateur draft scholars — a chunk of the basketball-watching city responded with a collective yawn.
In case you hadn’t noticed, dancing so closely to the velvet rope of the playoffs has provoked dwindling patience.
Warren was Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and freshman Ennis was one of the best point guards in the country. But what can they do for impatient Suns fans now?
"I think there’s generally a developmental stage with any player that comes into the NBA," McDonough said during Friday’s press conference that introduced Warren and Ennis to Phoenix reporters. "There’ll be a learning curve."
And then it’s full speed ahead along the straightaway to greatness, right?
"We’ll have some good positional battles in training camp," McDonough said.
If that doesn’t launch the hallelujah chorus, take a moment to check when Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and some of the hotshot Spurs were drafted. Very few experts expected much from a lot of guys who eventually become very good NBA players.
Unless you’re team is awful the same year that Anthony Davis, for example, is in the draft, immediate gratification-through-greatness isn’t going to happen.
But it also should be pointed out that the learning curve doesn’t mean Warren and Ennis will be limited to spectating as rookies. One or both have enough game to barge into the rotation.
Some free-agent situations might be required for this to happen quickly, but the Suns do see unique scoring potential in Warren.
From Suns coach Jeff Hornacek we received a resounding "Possibly."
That’s because his team was really good last season and could have many, if not all, of the important players back next season. The NBA’s Coach of the Year runner-up does seem quite enthusiastic about the two newcomers.
"They both have bright futures and lot of potential," he said.
In Warren, Phoenix has a point producer who can tickle the analytics crowd by making two-point shots at a rate that pumps up the team’s effective field-goal percentage.
He and Ennis also provide the fast-twitch Suns with some cerebral juice that benefits a part of the game the team often struggled with, at times, last season.
"We looked at how we can get better in the half court," Hornacek said. "These two guys fit perfectly. You have to have both parts of the game in case a team slows you down."
Even though they’ll try like crazy to make it continue to happen, not all Suns possessions can end in a Dragic sprint to the rim or a Gerald Green transition 3.
By the way, we would have included some commentary from Warren and Ennis in regard to just how they can help make the Suns better, but these guys do more walkin’ than talkin’.
"Just 100 percent effort on the defensive end," Warren said Friday when asked how he erased some of the questions about his ability to guard during pre-draft workouts.
There’s no Marcin Gortat in either of these guys.
They do, however, possess a level of on-court sophistication that could find them on the floor sooner than expected. And drafting Ennis does not mean it’s bye-bye to Bledsoe. Please note both Bledsoe and Dragic played close to 35 minutes per game last season.
Somebody has to play while they rest.
Anyway, here’s more testimony from the coach.
"They’re both very good at knowing the game, reading the situations," Hornacek said. "They’re going to adjust and make the right play."