Former Phoenix Suns shooting guard and NBA great Jeff Hornacek has officially been hired to be the new head coach for the Suns. There is no question this is a smart move by Phoenix’s management team, as Hornacek knows exactly how to get the most out of his players.
The 50-year-old was selected by the Suns in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft. He was a part of some very bad teams early in his career in Phoenix, but the Suns improved drastically in his third season. In fact, the team clinched four consecutive playoff appearances, including two trips to the Western Conference Finals. The success was in large part due to Hornacek’s dominating play on offense.
Hornacek was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a package deal for Charles Barkley after he led the Suns with 20.1 points per game during the 1991-92 season. His time in Philadelphia was short lived as he was dealt to the Utah Jazz halfway through the 1993-94 season.
Hornacek joined forces with John Stockton and Karl Malone to become an unstoppable trio. The team made two straight NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998, but lost to the Chicago Bulls both times. Regardless, Hornacek consistently played at a high level and was a huge part of the Jazz’s success for many years. In fact, the organization retired his No. 14 jersey shortly after he retired.
It was a little over a decade when Hornacek returned to Utah to be an assistant coach. He was brought on to help the perimeter shooters improve their shot. The fact that Hornacek was an outstanding 3-point and free throw shooter meant that he had the knowledge to help players in that area.
Considering the Suns need all the help they can get in every area of the team some people may not agree with the hiring of Hornacek. Phoenix has numerous problems that a rookie head coach might not be able to fix. However, since he has already faced difficult odds before in his career this should not be any different.
Hornacek is very intelligent and knows how to relay important information to his players. He will figure out each player’s strength and weakness, and then game plan around that to get the most out of his team. Considering the Suns posted the second worst record in franchise history (27-55) the good news is the only direction Hornacek can realistically go is up.