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Phoenix Suns coach Hornacek: Team ‘one free agent’ away from elite status

LISTEN: Jeff Hornacek, Suns head coach

The last Phoenix Suns player to be selected for the NBA All-Star Game was Steve Nash, who earned the nod in 2012.

One could argue that guard Goran Dragic was snubbed last year, as he certainly put together an All-Star-caliber season en route to being an All-NBA Third Team selection as well as winning the league’s Most Improved Player Award, but in a way his omission — and the team’s lack of a representative this season — underscores a larger, perhaps more concerning point.

The Suns, for all they have that has gone and is going right, still do not have a “star.”

And, in the NBA, it’s tough to consistently win without one.

“We think we’re moving in the right direction,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday as part of Newsmakers Week. “We don’t have a so-called ‘All-Star’, we have guys that are getting close, that are growing and are young.”

The Suns’ leading scorer, at 16.9 points per game, is Eric Bledsoe. The point guard, who is 25 years old, also leads the team in assists and steals per game. Bledsoe also pulls down 5.2 rebounds per game, and may be the most likely candidate to become an All-Star in the near future.

In the meantime Bledsoe, along with Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Markieff Morris, Alex Len and P.J. Tucker, make up the nucleus of a team that has been both entertaining and competitive, yet at the same time seems unable to take the next step from being a nice team to one that can contend for an NBA championship.

But according to Hornacek, they’re not missing much.

“I think we’re not far off,” he said. “If we can get one free agent and then with our guys growing…we’re right there.

“With a little bit here and there, we can be just like one of these other teams, the Rockets or Portlands that are 30-15 or whatever their record is. So we’re close.”