On Sunday Phoenix Suns GM James Jones was named NBA Executive of the Year. The “Valley of the Sun” has risen again under Jones’ leadership this season. The team posted the league’s second-best regular season record at 51-21.
They’ve also reached the Western Conference Finals, winning Game 1 on Sunday over the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114. They defeated the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in six games and then swept the Denver Nuggets in the previous two rounds.
Jones was honored on Father’s Day, which happened to be the same day the Suns tipped off their first Conference Finals appearance since 2010.
Suns GM James Jones has won the 2020-21 NBA Executive of the Year Award pic.twitter.com/ilu2mbDhOj
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 20, 2021
“Champ,” what Jones is affectionately known as, played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trailblazers, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, before joining the Suns front office.
He was first the Vice President of Basketball Operations, then promoted to the General Manager position on an interim basis on 2018 before having the interim tag removed and becoming the team’s permanent decision-maker.
The journeyman also won three NBA titles during his 14-year playing career (2 with Miami and 1 with Cleveland).
Jones was the architect of the trade that brought Chris Paul to Phoenix from the Oklahoma City Thunder last November.
Paul was named second team All-NBA for the 2020-21 season, further solidifying the quality of the trade. Jones has been front and center as the Suns have seen a 32 win increase in just two seasons. He also oversaw the hiring of head coach Monty Williams in 2019.
In 2018-19 Jones began to lay the groundwork to begin getting the Suns out of that extended draft lottery purgatory to the success you’re witnessing this season.
For his efforts, Jones received nine of the 30 first-place votes and earned 65 total points. Utah Jazz Vice VP of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey finished just behind Jones with 61 total points, with nine first-place votes as well, and Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks was third with 51 total points and five first-place votes.
The award is voted upon by a panel of executives from all 30 teams. Jones is the first Suns executive to win the award since 2005 when Bryan Colangelo took it home.
Jones has the Suns on the right trajectory and now they’re just three wins away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993 when Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson guided them.