Houston Rockets can learn vital lesson from playoff failures of Suns

What can the Houston Rockets learn from the Suns?
What can the Houston Rockets learn from the Suns? / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

It's easier to find clarity when you're on the outside looking in. You're unbiased. That's where Houston Rockets fans stand at the moment.

The Rockets missed the postseason dance in 2023-24. So, the organization and their fans get to watch the playoffs with a clear eye. There are lessons to be learned from the results of this year's proceedings.

The Phoenix Suns may have just taught us one.

Houston Rockets conference rival swept in embarrassing fashion

This was a trying season for the Suns. They entered the 2023-24 playoffs as the Western Conference's sixth seed. That was an underwhelming finish for a would-be superteam.

Still, the playoffs were supposed to be different. This Suns team was supposed to be built for the postseason. With multiple shot creators, they were supposed to be a problem.

So much for that. The Suns were swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Phoenix didn't appear to have a fighting chance at any point in this series.

What happened - and what can the Rockets learn?

Houston Rockets conference rival built poorly

We're not going to knock the Suns for acquiring Kevin Durant.

The Devin Booker / Mikal Bridges / Deandre Ayton core appeared stale. Given Booker's age, the Suns weren't ready to rebuild after a recent Finals appearance. Trading for Durant made sense.

Trading for Bradley Beal is a different matter. His skillset overlaps with Booker's, and Durant's to an extent as well. The Suns have a trio of stars who look to hunt shots at all three levels.

None of them are special as playmakers. None of them are exceptional defenders. The Suns tripled down on a skillset, and given the combined salaries of their star trio, they didn't have enough cap space left to balance the roster.

That's the prevailing lesson of the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns.

Houston Rockets should build team carefully

Frankly, the Rockets shouldn't even be looking to find their Durant yet.

When the Suns acquired him, Booker had Finals experience. He knew how to win big. Other than Fred VanVleet, we can't say that about a current Rocket.

If the Rockets make a playoff run in 2024-25, sure, they could consolidate their assets for a top player. Once they do that, they need to craft their remaining roster carefully.

The Suns lacked playmaking, and they lacked defense. Perhaps this is a referendum on the "Big 3" model. A star duo surrounded by capable rotation players seems like a safer route to success.

Still, a look at history's great Big 3s suggests that the Suns missed the mark. Look at Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett or Draymond Green and Klay Thompson (the Warriors boasted a Big 4).

Each of those players has auxillary skills that allow them to function as role players. Stacking three-level scorers with no regard for othet facets of the game is not the answer.

Now, the Suns are stuck. Beal is a negative value contract, Durant is near retirement, and they have perhaps the worst collection of draft capital in the NBA.

Short of trading Booker, it's hard to imagine the path forward for this team. The Suns went all-in on a bad hand:

That's exactly what the Rockets need to avoid.