To the victor goes the spoils, and the more the Phoenix Suns win, the more likely they are to be recognized for their efforts.
As the 2013-14 season reaches its midway point, many publications are handing out their “midseason awards,” and SI.com is no different.
Their list, released Thursday, has a few of Suns on the list.
When asked to name the “Most Improved Player,” both Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee received votes.
For Bledsoe, Chris Mannix wrote:
Before the season, there were whispers out of L.A. that Bledsoe could struggle in a starting role, that for all his speed and quickness he wasn’t well equipped to run a half court offense. Now? Bledsoe has answered those questions, and then some, driving Phoenix to a shocking — repeat, shocking — 19-11 start before being sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury. A terror in the open floor, Bledsoe has been efficient, too — he is tied for 32nd in the NBA in PER — while improving his field goal percentage to a career-best 48.6 percent. The aforementioned knee injury could cost him the award at the end of the season, but for the first half, it’s his.
On the shelf for now, Bledsoe has averages of 18 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. As a Clipper last season, his line was 8.5 points, 3.1 assists and 3 rebounds per contest, albeit in 13 fewer minutes per contest.
Bledsoe also earned a couple of “runner up” nominations, but it was Plumlee who got a vote from Lee Jenkins. He wrote wrote:
A year ago, Plumlee was sitting at the end of the bench in Indiana, on the fringe of the NBA. The Pacers lacked depth, yet still they hesitated to call on Plumlee, who averaged a meager 0.9 points in 3.9 minutes. The Pacers fortified their bench by acquiring Luis Scola from Phoenix in the summer. Plumlee was one of the afterthoughts — a throw-in, essentially — they sent back to the Suns. Now, Plumlee is a starting center, averaging nearly a double-double for a young team fighting for a playoff berth. The Suns are well positioned for the future and Plumlee is a major reason why.
The 25-year-old who barely played last season has started all 41 games for the Suns this season, averaging 9.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
But the players were not the only ones to be recognized, as head coach Jeff Hornacek appeared on all five writers’ Coach of the Year ballots, earning the top spot on Rob Mahoney’s. In defense of his choice, Mahoney wrote:
If a coach’s primary responsibility is to put his players in a position to succeed, then none has done better work this season than Hornacek. It’s from his design that the Suns have been utterly tank-defiant, and it’s a testament to his rotation choices that Phoenix has few (if any) problematic lineups.
At 24-17, the Phoenix Suns have clearly surpassed whatever expectations most put on them heading into the season. If they maintain their current pace, chances are their efforts will again be recognized when the season comes to a close.