That's the number VegasInsider.com slated the Suns at last season. Phoenix just barely squeaked past that number with a 48-34 record.
Vegas was Samsonite way off.
Obviously the lines aren't always set at the win totals the teams are expected to achieve. These aren't predictions. They're lines set to encourage betting on both sides of the number.
I'll own it.
Even if I didn't mention it I know that the puppet gallery would. When I decided to write this I told Dave it was probably apropos that it came from me considering my role of doom merchant last season. I thought the team would get off to an abhorrent start and a fire sale would ensure, stripping the team of any remaining short term assets before the trade deadline. With the prospect of the season unraveling I went with the worst case scenario, which actually had a silver lining.
Despite my pessimistic broadcast for the season, I also augured that the Suns would strike lottery gold and gain their first ever #1 overall pick. Basically, I always look for the good out of every bad situation. It's kind of my thing.
My prognosticative prowess was sorely lacking. I should have listened to everybody who thought the Suns were easily a 40+ win team that would fight for a playoff spot. Or at least everybody who had them winning 20-something games. I could have avoided some good-natured (I think?) ridicule.
Instead I went with 16-66. The reason I picked that exact number? Because it was the team's record in it's inaugural campaign... a season of misery that it seemed would be appropriately matched. I thought the Suns were going to hit rock bottom.
I was wrong.
Being the eternal optimist that I am, the first thing that occurred to me was this seemed a little bit low. I'll save my final
laughably incoherent prediction for right before the season, a lot of things can change between now and then, but to be candid... a two digit number with a 5 in the left hand column had been tumbling around my head.
I can definitely see a scenario unfold where the team improves on its record from last season. The team made a big upgrade in the backcourt. Chemistry and camaraderie seem to be huge strengths. There's a very familial atmosphere enveloping the team, probably because damn near everyone is related now, unlike the noxious miasma from a couple years ago. Hornacek has had a chance to cut his teeth (or insert your favorite Babbyism). Nearly all of the main components are in or entering their prime.
If the team can stay relatively healthy, why couldn't they leave this new number in the dust? The new campaign will hopefully bring a whole lot more Eric Bledsoe and Alex Len than last season. Plus, the suggestions of salient improvement from the Suns bigs don't really seem like platitudes or white noise after those same types of remarks were all validated last year.
Really? A .500 team? Bordering on being in the 30's?
I'm taking the over.
That's how many teams Vegas has ahead of the Suns.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder 57.5
2. San Antonio Spurs 56.5
3. Los Angeles Clippers 55.5
4. Golden St. Warriors 50.5
5. Dallas Mavericks 49.5
6. Houston Rockets 49.5
7. Memphis Grizzlies 48.5
8. Portland Trail Blazers 48.5
Shockingly, they are the exact same eight that finished ahead of the Suns last season. Way to think outside the box.
I'll be previewing these teams in depth before the regular season begins, so at that point I'll give some more insight into which of these teams might actually be vulnerable. For now I'll just offer that it seems like pretty specious logic to just gift the same teams all eight spots. Almost surely, at least one of those teams will slip behind an improving team climbing into the picture. Yes, they're betting lines, not necessarily predictions, but do all of those teams really look 6+ wins better than the Suns?
What are your thoughts? High? Low? About right?
Get them in below. It's not time to hold anyone to predictions quite yet, but it's about time to start mulling over this topic... if you're into this type of thing.
Also, I think this qualifies as an optimistic post... which means I get nine the other way to dispense at my discretion.