When you draft a guy with a late second round pick, you don’t expect him to be the leader of your franchise, especially not 30 years after draft day. Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek was selected 46th overall in the 1986 NBA Draft.
The Iowa State guard became an NBA All-Star and played five years with the Suns before being the key piece in the trade that brought Charles Barkley to Phoenix.
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Hornacek continued his solid career in Philadelphia and Toronto before being forever engrained into my mind wearing a Jazz jersey. The two time three point shootout champion (1998 and 2000) was an integral piece in Utah, getting to the NBA Finals in back to back years (1997 and 1998). Just like the Suns legend he was traded for, his team fell to the Michael Jordan led Bulls.
Now Hornacek does his work from the bench. He was a Jazz assistant from 2011-2013 before being awarded the Suns head coaching job in 2013.
Hornacek found himself in a tough situation. The Suns won just 25 games the year prior and no, it was not the lockout shortened season. Phoenix was projected to do just as badly, if not worse the following year.
Well, the rookie head coach and his group of blue collar players went out and shocked the league.
In his first year with the Suns, Phoenix went from 25 to 48 wins, just missing the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. They would have finished in third place in the Eastern Conference.
After such a great increase in wins, the Suns had a natural regression last year. They went 39-43 and fell to the 10th spot in the West.
Since Hornacek has been the head man, the Suns have gone from 24th to 17th in defensive efficiency. In this free agency period, the front office decided to help out, adding former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
By being tall, athletic, smart, and vocal, Chandler has the chance to take a slightly below average defense and turn them into a top ten defense.