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Phoenix Suns among the young upstarts in Western Conference playoff picture

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The Suns came into the season stuck in the middle - not really a playoff lock, but not a lottery lock either. Their youth and inexperience have so far left them in that purgatory in the season's first 11 games.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

While the Phoenix Suns came in as the most accomplished young playoff contender, they are still just that: young. Not only are the Suns the second youngest team in the Western Conference playoff picture, they have the least NBA experience overall.

suns-youth

*Yrs of experience and Age are derived from the players who have played the majority of games this year (or were out some games due to injury) AND are averaging 15+ minutes per game.

As you can see, the only two teams that rival the Suns' youth and have gotten off to a good start are the New Orleans Pelicans (5-4) and the Sacramento Kings (6-4). But both of those teams have more years of NBA experience in their top 9 rotation players than the Suns.

Utah is younger and has less experience, but they are just 4-7 to start the season and few think they are real playoff contenders this year.

The Suns kind of grew up last year, but that was partially by being "stupid" (P.J. Tucker's words) enough to win games they weren't supposed to win.

This year, the Suns come into every game being expected to win, and that takes a toll on players who are young and inexperienced. Only three rotation players are over 26, and only two of those have more than three years of NBA experience (Goran Dragic and Gerald Green). At the same time, the Suns are trying to work in a 21 year old center (Alex Len) who is really playing his first true NBA season and attempting to find enough time for all the rotation-caliber players in the stable. One of those rotation-caliber players is 21-year old T.J. Warren, who put up 36 PPG in the D-League last weekend on 60+% shooting.

These guys will have to grow together and get better throughout the season so that when the best teams start tightening the screws in March and April the Suns can be right there with them.

Youth be served.