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Center of the Sun: Will the Phoenix Suns start this season with a bang or a bust?

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The Fantable predicts the outcome of the Suns' first 20 games.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Since we're just six weeks away from the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, I decided that it wasn't too early to look ahead to the season itself. Barring a trade that comes out of the blue between now and then and the possibility that the Suns might sign a free agent shooting guard to fill in while Davon Reed recovers, the Suns will probably begin the season with the roster it has now. While only a few fans have hopes of winning more than 30 games this year, the Suns' schedule starts off fairly easy. Of the first 20 games, thirteen are at home and only six are against teams that finished above .500 last season.

With that in mind, this week's questions are about those first 20 games.


The Fantable Questions

How many wins do you think that the Suns will get in those first 20 games and how important could it be to finish this 20 game stretch with a .500 or better record?

GuarGuar: Getting off to a strong start is going to be crucial if we have any shot of snagging that coveted 8 seed. As you can see in my predictions I have us going 13-7 in our first 20 games including a 4-0 start! It is definitely optimistic but hey I'm not going to sit here and predict straight L's. I am probably one of the few who feel we could have a "breakout" year and be in that 8 seed hunt. I know that has been the talk for the past SEVEN YEARS but I still have somehow not lost hope.

Sometimes getting off to a hot start can put confidence in a team and really jumpstart a successful season. In 2013-14, the team that was suppose to win 23 games started 11-9 in their first 20. We all know how well that season went.

I know it's extremely optimistic (and probably stupid) to think we have a legit shot at making the playoffs. I believe a year 2 backcourt of the "Killer B's" in Bled and Book will make solid strides and can really lead this team. We know how much Eric Bledsoe wants to win here while he is in his prime. We know how much Devin Booker wants to prove he can be amongst the league's elite. We know the amazing bond and fire this team has and how much they care for one another.

WHY NOT? Because Vegas says so? Well they have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Sure we could be 25-57 this year it is a definite possibility. But sometimes you just got to believe. And I believe in #TheTimeline.

Sun-Arc: When I go through that list I come out with 9 wins. Could be more… or less, always hard to say. But the past two seasons the team came out and laid a total egg in the first game, and I fully expect that again. Please! Let me be wrong! But also let me be right by predicting we win both home games against the Lakers.

It would be really heartening to see this team have a winning record after the first 20 games. I would love it. The fans would love it. The players would love it. But I don’t think it is too important in the long run. By the all-star game, we’ll likely be near the bottom again and I would not be surprised to see moves or vet players locked to the bench as we did last year.

Having said that, holding a winning record at a quarter of the way through the season would be a morale booster to all the players, young and old. That might help them play better and end up with a better record overall, for good and ill. But at this point I’m not betting on them having a winning record at any point this season. Well, maybe after game #15 for a brief moment, when we beat the Lakers at home again.

SDKyle: I've got the Suns opening 9-11. As much as I'd love to see them start this stretch over .500, and I do think it's possible, I still think most of these teams are probably still better than the Suns on paper. And unfortunately, some of the toss-up games aren't scheduled in our favor. That first matchup with the Clippers, for example, will be the Suns third game in 4 days after having played the Lakers the previous night, while for the Clippers it will be only their second game and they will have had a full day off before seeing us.

Still, a game off of .500 pace wouldn't be a bad start either. I think how well the Suns do in that first 20 is really going to establish the mindset for the season. I think if the Suns do indeed get 9+ wins over that stretch, the team will gain some confidence and Watson and McD will agree to just keep playing to win until further notice. A disastrous start, something like 5-15, could easily lead to another decision to tank the season away.

SouthernSun: I believe the Suns will go 12-8 during that first 20 game stretch. This will please people like me who want the Suns to be fun and competitive for at least a short period of time. Then, once the schedule gets rough (and boy does it get rough quick after that), the tank can commence, the veteran minutes will decrease, and all the Suns fans salivating over high picks as opposed to proven performance will be sated. A little something for everybody this season.

I'm not sure it's terribly important that the Suns have a respectable record for the first 20 games. I'd certainly be happy about it. It would also make me a little more optimistic about the possibilities for the following season after adding an impact player through free agency next summer. In fact, free agents to be (Boogie Cousins perhaps) might be a little more likely to sign on next summer if the Suns looked halfway competent for the first chunk of this season. This time should go a long way towards telling us how ready Josh Jackson is as a rookie, and how far in their development Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender are, not to mention how close Booker is to making the jump to actual star caliber player. If they can't produce some encouraging results through that 20 game cake walk, relevance might be even further off than I had feared.

Individual Game Predictions

Summary: One interesting thing when looking at all of the individual game predictions is that there are only six games that all of our Fantable members agree that the Suns will lose. When you average out all of their predictions, we come up with a group projection of eleven (10.75) wins in the first 20 games to start the season. I would be very happy if the Suns could start off this season 11-9.

I firmly believe that getting off to a good start in the first 20 games (at or above a 10-10 record) could do wonders for this young team's confidence. That might not translate into more wins later in the season when the schedule gets tougher but any tiny, extra edge that this team can add going into that part of the schedule would certainly be beneficial.

Once again many thanks to our Fantable... GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun!


2016-17 Season Highlights

Tyler Ulis Full Highlights 2017.04.02 vs Rockets - 34 Pts, 9 Assists, 9 Rebs, 15-22 FGM!

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2017.04.02 vs Rockets - 27 Pts, 9 Assists!


Quote of the Week

“I’m going to do everything in my power to turn it around.” - Devin Booker


News & Notes

Amar'e Stoudemire retires from basketball. Sportando

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker runs with the big dogs in top-flight pickup games. AZCentral Sports

Greatest Phoenix Suns Moment of the 21st Century. Last Word on Pro Basketball

Phoenix Suns likely to steer toward younger free agents to replace injured Reed. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Ranking the 10 NBA teams who have ‘next’ after the Golden State Warriors. Gerald Bourguet/Hoops Habit

5 shooting guards the Phoenix Suns could still sign. Gerald Bourguet/Hoops Habit


Suns History in Video

The video quality isn't great but I think you'll like the content and presentation.


Suns Trivia

Dick Van Arsdale, the "Original Phoenix Sun", played 9 of his 12 seasons for the Suns after being taken in the 1968 Expansion Draft by Phoenix's then brand expansion new team. Van Arsdale is 5th in all-time points scored with 12,060, 8th in total assists (2,396) and 14th in total rebounds (2,452). He only ranks 34th in total steals (264) but steals weren't officially recorded by the NBA until his final four years as a player so that figure is a bit misleading.

Van Arsdale was a three time All-Star for the Suns (1969, 1970, 1971) and named to the All-Defensive Second team once in 1973-74.

The Suns first home game this season will be player on October 18, 2017. 49 years ago to the day, on October 18, 1968, Dick Van Arsdale scored the first points in Phoenix Suns history with a layup against the Seattle Supersonics as the team won its franchise opener.

For more on Dick Van Arsdale, you can check out Mike Lisboa's excellent TBT article on him from last November.

Statistics courtesy of Land of Basketball.com.


Previewing the Weeks/Months Ahead

September 5 - Deadline to sign second-round draft picks (picks become free agents if not given a required tender).

September 25 - Media Day

September 26 - Training camp opens.

September 29 - Suns to hold free open scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

October 1 - Last day for RFAs to sign qualifying offers.

October 3 - First preseason game @ Portland Trail Blazers

October 14 - Last day for players on fully non-guaranteed contracts to be waived and not count at all against a team’s 2017/18 cap.

October 15 - Roster limits decrease from 20 players to 15. Last day for teams to sign a player to a rookie scale extension. Last day for teams to sign a player to a veteran extension in certain scenarios. Last day for teams to complete sign-and-trade deals. Last day for teams to convert an Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way contract.

October 17 - Day One of the 2017-18 NBA Season!

October 18 - Home Opener! Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers.


Last Week's Poll Results

The question was, "Since Davon Reed will miss at least the 1st two months of the season, what should the Suns do?" The results were:

23% - Sign a veteran free agent to fill in as the backup SG.

77% - Just give those minutes to Derrick Jones Jr, Peter Jok and/or Elijah Millsap.

There were a total of 221 votes cast.

This week's poll is...

Poll

How many of their first 20 games do you think the Suns will win?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    12 or more.
    (50 votes)
  • 48%
    9 to 11.
    (115 votes)
  • 29%
    8 or less.
    (70 votes)
235 votes total Vote Now