The Phoenix Suns may have missed the NBA playoffs, but they are well represented in many categories in ESPN.com Insider Kevin Pelton’s end-of-season award picks.
Goran Dragic, Miles Plumlee, head coach Jeff Hornacek and GM Ryan McDonough were among those mentioned.
Dragic made Pelton’s All-NBA Third Team after averaging a career high 20.3 points and 3.2 rebounds to go with his 5.9 assists. This year marks the fourth consecutive season Dragic has increased his scoring numbers.
Hornacek is Pelton’s runner-up pick for Coach of the Year. Gregg Popovich edged out the first-year coach with his NBA-best 62-20 San Antonio Spurs, but it was the vast improvement from last year’s 25-57 campaign that launched Hornacek into the conversation. Hornacek exceeded all expectations and ended the year just one game out of the Western Conference playoffs.
Miles Plumlee took Pelton’s vote for Most Improved Player, beating out DeMar DeRozan and DeAndre Jordan. In Plumlee’s sophomore season, he led the Suns with 7.8 rebounds per game and missed only two games all year.
Plumlee went from not playing at all in Indiana — and giving little indication he could contribute had he gotten the opportunity — to starting and playing well for the Suns. He’s the first player since 2006-07 to increase his playing time by at least 20 minutes per game. To me, that’s the biggest leap any player made.
As far as the Executive of the Year award, McDonough oversaw a roster that added 10 new players and a head coach over the last year, which led him to being Pelton’s choice for the award. McDonough has positioned his team with cap room and plenty of future draft picks, including three first-rounders in the upcoming draft.
With apologies to Masai Ujiri getting three draft picks for Andrea Bargnani, McDonough made the season’s best trade — getting Plumlee, Gerald Green and the Indiana Pacers’ first-round pick in exchange for the unwanted Luis Scola. Plumlee and Green have both been quality starters for the Suns this season. McDonough also added Eric Bledsoe and hired Hornacek, moves that turned Phoenix into an unexpected playoff contender.