Now that the Phoenix Suns season is over at 24 wins against 58 losses, it’s time to look back at our preseason predictions!
We knew coming into the season that the Suns were a team in transition, with a coach not likely to completely tank from day one but a roster loaded with too much young talent to bury on the bench. The Suns had 10 players aged 25 or younger on the team (including 4 teenagers), and 4 players 31 or older. Only Eric Bledsoe was in the prime of his career, with Brandon Knight the only one close to approaching that status.
So how did we do on those predictions? Let’s take a walk down memory lane...
What will improve more? Offense or Defense?
Prediction: The staff split down the middle on this one. The Suns were coming off being 28th on offense and 25th on defense, so there wasn’t an obvious area that could improve more than the other since both were extremely low and easy to improve upon
Outcome: The 2016-17 Suns actually finished 22nd on offense and 28th on defense, so it turned out to be the offense that improved while the defense got even worse. And this wasn’t a late-season tank move either - the Suns were at those spots at the trade deadline before all the shut-downs. Kudos to Kellan, Owen, Brendon and Jim for picking offense as the most-improved.
Could Brandon Knight be a 6th Man Finalist?
Prediction: In retrospect, this turned out to be a silly question. But in preseason, we didn’t see it as that silly actually. Half the staff said yes, Knight could be a finalist for Sixth Man of the Year (whereas we all collectively said NO to the Booker/All-Star question in the same post).
Outcome: He wasn’t. Let’s leave it at that.
Which rookies could make the All-Rookie teams?
Prediction: Almost unanimous prediction of Marquese Chriss to make an All-Rookie team among the staff. Some predicted Dragan Bender as well. No one predicted Tyler Ulis or Derrick Jones Jr.
Outcome: A week into the season, Chriss was put in the starting lineup and ended up starting 75 of 82 games. I made the case that he does deserve first-team All-Rookie. Bender missed almost half the season with an ankle injury, and Tyler Ulis simply got his chance too late in the year. Derrick Jones Jr. finished second in the Dunk Contest and otherwise acquitted himself as an NBA prospect but won’t be considered for any postseason honors.
Will the Suns lead the league in fouls or pace?
Prediction: The Suns showed in preseason that they would “play like a puppy this season: all arms, legs and slobber creating memories both good and bad”. Seven of our eight staff members in the round table predicted the Suns would be more likely to lead the league in pace instead of fouls. Only Geoff Allen made the correct choice.
Outcome: The Suns ACTUALLY led the league in fouls committed (24.8 per game), and by a wide margin. In fact, the Suns committed more fouls this year than any team in a decade (Utah Jazz, 25.0 per game in 2006-07). Ouch.
Who gets traded first?
Prediction: There was a LOT of trade candidates back in preseason due to the overloaded roster. Way too many guys on hand. As far as what would come FIRST, Deadpoolio and I predicted a Goodwin trade. Others predicted P.J. Tucker. Lisboa thought maybe Tyson Chandler would demand a trade, forcing the Suns’ hand.
Outcome: We were all right, except Chandler never asked for a trade. Goodwin was released days after the article posted when the Suns couldn’t get any value for him, and Tucker eventually turned into a pair of future second round picks.
Biggest name the Suns will acquire?
Prediction: Kellan Olson tossed out Boogie Cousins. Geoff Allen mentioned Rudy Gay. But the staff predicted any big-name trade would be a long shot and very unlikely to be in Ryan McDonough’s plan.
Outcome: The Suns took a small, non-committal swing at Cousins, but otherwise sat out the deadline. The two players acquired only helped the Suns reach the salary floor and were immediately released (Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger).
How many games will the Suns win?
Prediction: Among the eight staff on the round table, win predictions ranged from 27 (Jim Coughenour) to 36 (Rod Argent).
Outcome: The Suns actually won 24 games, but actively tried to lose for a long time after the trade deadline. Up to the trade deadline, the Suns were on pace for 26 wins, then benched a number of players to get under the Laker hump and take over the #2 spot.
How did you do on YOUR preseason predictions?
Also, check those links for a lot of other preseason predictions we made. Those were fun topics!