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ESPN projects Suns to be 5th worst team in NBA

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With the Phoenix Suns going super-young, the ESPN machine understandably predicts a lot of losses.

NBA: Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Did you expect any different?

It appears that a team featuring no fewer than seven rotation players aged 22 or younger, including four who are not even old enough (19/20) to buy alcohol without faking their age, are not projected to win many games next season.

Tack on a pair of veterans who are still just 24 years old - “Big Sauce” Alan Williams and “Tony Buckets” T.J. Warren - and the outlook on wins does not improve much.

Add in a coach who is only in his third year in the coaching profession on any level, and second year in a leadership role on the sideline, and the low-win picture crystallizes.

Even the Suns true veterans - Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight - are either sitting on the trade block for the rest of the summer or injured (Dudley, Knight) or both.

So, no. A low win projection is not a surprise and should not be taken with offense.

The Suns are projected to have a second-fewest wins in the West, and 5th fewest wins in the entire league.

Don’t be offended, Suns fans. Just hope and pray the product is a little more fun to watch this season.

In fact, the ONLY reason a Suns fan might be offended is that all that losing might “only” garner yet another #4 or #5 pick in the 2018, rather than a prize jewel.

The Suns have picked either 4th or 5th in 3 of the last 6 drafts (2013, 5th, Alex Len; 2016, 4th, Dragan Bender; 2017, 4th, Josh Jackson). It’s been three full decades since the Suns franchise has drafted higher than 4th despite having at least a few ping pong balls for the last seven consecutive and eight of the last nine seasons overall. During this rebuild, it would be nice to see the ping pong balls smile in the Suns direction for once.

But the Suns can only do what they can do. For now, they are competing with a handful of other teams for the right to be the worst in the league. The Atlanta Hawks (post-Millsap and Horford), Chicago Bulls (post-Jimmy Butler), Brooklyn Nets (post-assets of any kind) and Sacramento Kings (post-sanity) all project with fewer than the Suns’ 30 wins in 2017-18 per ESPN, while the Lakers, Knicks, Pacers, Magic and Sixers are picked just ahead of the Suns with 32-33 wins each.

If you’re counting, that’s no less than 10 NBA franchises, including the Suns, more interested in 2018 Draft positioning than 2017-18 playoff positioning.

It’s gonna be a wild ride. Hang on, Bright Siders!