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Phoenix Suns drop in ESPN’s Future Power Rankings

The Phoenix Suns’ recent past has not been all that great, with the team missing the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.

And according to ESPN’s Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton, the future won’t be much better.

The NBA writers released their Future Power Rankings, an ESPN Insider piece that tries to predict the on-court success teams will have in each of the next three seasons. Each squad is graded on a 0-100 scale in five categories, including players, management, money, market and draft.

After adding everything up, the Suns had an overall score of 45, which placed them at No. 22. The team’s lowest grade was in management, followed by players and then money.

It’s a pretty steep drop from last year, when Phoenix boasted a No. 12 ranking.

Along with the Charlotte Hornets, the Suns tied for the biggest tumble in the Future Power Rankings since last September. Back then, Phoenix was hoping to make the most of a three-guard rotation of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. Of them, only Bledsoe remains, and newcomer Brandon Knight looks like a downgrade.

The Suns are also busy dealing with a trade demand from forward Markieff Morris, whose team-friendly contract was a big part of their plan to compete now while preserving room for a max free agent next summer. And this summer’s aggressive signing of Tyson Chandler blocked 2013 lottery pick Alex Len‘s path to the starting lineup.

Add it up, and even with cap flexibility and an ample supply of draft picks, there are more questions than answers about the future in Phoenix. That includes coach Jeff Hornacek, who hasn’t had his 2016-17 team option picked up.

— Kevin Pelton

In a way, the Suns’ precipitous drop shows just how volatile their roster is.

On one hand, they have intriguing young talents in Bledsoe, Knight, Morris, Len, T.J. Warren, Archie Goodwin and rookie Devin Booker. On the other hand, that group so far has failed to produce enough wins to get the team back into the postseason, which is and has been the goal.

If it’s any consolation to Suns fans, the Los Angeles Lakers are 26th in the rankings, which feature the Brooklyn Nets at the very bottom.

At any rate, no one really knows exactly how the future will play out, and it is possible the Suns will get back on track to being one of the NBA’s better teams as early as this season. However, as training camp is set to open, optimism — at least on a national level — appears to be fairly low.

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