- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - The plan seemed simple to outsiders when the Phoenix Suns‘ season began.

A team loaded with castoffs would tank the year to get a top draft pick. Then this scrappy, energetic squad started playing, and winning.

And the forecast of designed doom flew out the window.

Behind a dynamic backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and under the steady guidance of first-year coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns were transformed from an ugly 25-win mess in 2012-13 to an entertaining, high-energy bunch that just missed the playoffs.

They are just the second 48-win team to miss the postseason in the 16-team playoff era. And while that disappointment lingered, the Suns realized they had outperformed expectations by a mile.

“That was the funnest thing in my life,” Dragic said, “It was my pleasure to show people they were wrong.”

There were breakout seasons all around.

Gerald Green, who had bounced around the NBA for six seasons, emerged as a big-time scoring threat with his streaky long-range shooting and drives for thunderous dunks.

Miles Plumlee, after spending virtually his entire rookie season a year ago on the Indiana bench, became Phoenix’s starting center.

P.J. Tucker, who had to play his way into the NBA, became the hustling, defensive-minded heart of the team.

Off the bench, power forward Markieff Morris became one of the league’s most effective sixth men, with twin Marcus filling in at small forward.

Then there’s Channing Frye, who missed all of last season for treatment of an enlarged heart and surprised even himself by playing virtually the entire season at starting forward.

The biggest question in the offseason is the status of Bledsoe, who is a restricted free agent. General manager Ryan McDonough has said teams are wasting their time if they sign him to an offer sheet, because the Suns will match it.

But whether Bledsoe, who emerged from the shadow as Chris Paul’s‘ backup to excel in a prominent role, wants to come back is an open question. He studiously avoided answering it as he left the team’s locker room on Thursday.

“We’ve got a little bit of experience going into next year. Now we know what it takes,” he said.

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