When: Wednesday Night, OPENING NIGHT!, 7:00 PM
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
It’s here! Opening Night!
Finally, the 2019-20 begins. We get to see the new-look Phoenix Suns. All new coaches. All new offense and defense. Lots of new rotation players.
How much have the Suns improved? We won’t know until they play. More than just one game, too. Remember last year?
Still, at least ‘cold nachos’ himself thinks the Suns are better this year...
Charles Barkley: "in the western conference, there are no bad teams. Even my Phoenix Suns are decent." pic.twitter.com/3cXWNH1dUn— Matt Johnson (@MattyJ12News) October 22, 2019
The Suns have two of the same starters from last year’s opening night but have upgraded the point guard (Ricky Rubio > Isaiah Canaan), small forward (Kelly Oubre Jr. > Trevor Ariza) and power forward (Dario Saric > Ryan Anderson).
The Kings return three from their starting lineup a year ago. They have moved Bagley into a starting role while putting Nemanja Bjelica on the bench, and replaced Willie Cauley-Stein with Dewayne Dedmon.
Out - injured
Suns: Ty Jerome (ankle), Cameron Johnson (calf tightness) are OUT per the Suns, while Devin Booker was sporting a wrap on one of his fingers and told Kellan Olson it was ‘sprained’ but he’s okay and NOT on the injury report.
Kings: Harry Giles appears to be out
- Scoring: Devin Booker (Suns), Buddy Hield (Kings)
- Assists: Ricky Rubio (Suns), De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
- Rebounds: Deandre Ayton (Suns), Marvin Bagley III (Kings)
Check out Brendon’s great preview earlier today, if you haven’t already. He talks about lineups, backup point guard and Devin Booker’s potential role after being a decoy all preseason.
I expect Ricky Rubio will start the game getting the Suns open shot after open shot. The last preseason game, Rubio had six potential assists on the Suns first six possessions. All open shots. He could have had 10+ assists in that game even though he only played 20-some minutes. I also expect Ayton and Booker will be excellent (it’s game two I’m worried about for Ayton, not game one).
The key in this game for the Suns is the rest of the team around Rubio, Booker and Ayton. Kelly Oubre Jr., Dario Saric, Mikal Bridges, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky and Jevon Carter will all get a huge chance to boost the team to victory. They’ve got to make shots and play defense.
The Kings have possibly the fastest guard in the league with the ball in point guard D’Aaron Fox, one of the league’s best shooters in Buddy Hield (newly re-signed for $88+ million), a scoring and rebounding savant in sophomore Marvin Bagley III, and a number of functionally assistive role players led by former Suns draft pick Bogdan Bogdanovic, who turned down a $51 million extension offer last week to become a restricted free agent next summer.
Over the summer, the Kings supplemented their young-ish core — I say ‘ish’ because both Hield and Bogi are older than 12 of the 15 players on the Suns roster — with a handful of journeyman veterans like Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph and former Suns Trevor Ariza and Richaun Holmes.
Can the Kings make the playoffs? They won 39 games a year ago, and hope their changes along with natural development from Fox and Bagley net them another half-dozen wins or more.
Luke Walton is their first-year head coach, after being
fired freed by the Lakers.
... never too high, never too low— Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) September 15, 2019
Those were Ricky Rubio’s words throughout the FIBA World Cup as his team, proudly representing his country Spain, defeated all competition to take the gold medal.
Now Ricky must instill that belief in the Suns, and in their fans. Because we cannot afford to overreact to anything we’ve seen to date, or will see in the season opener on Wednesday night.
We know what you did last opener
After getting embarrassed for years on opening night, including a nearly 50-point blowout to start their 50th anniversary year in 2017, the Suns started off last year with a bang.
The Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks, 121-100, in front of a sellout crowd there to see the league’s two most interesting rookies face off to begin their careers. Neither rookie blew the top off the arena, but Devin Booker personally carried the Suns to a big victory. Booker had 35 points and 7 assists, while veteran “glue guy” Trevor Ariza was the second-leading scorer at 21 points with 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Rookie No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block in his NBA debut. T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson combined for 35 points off the bench. The Suns had 35 assists. In one game. And 19 made threes.
But that fleeting moment of euphoria for Suns fans — including yours truly — came crashing down mere hours later.
You see, after their 121-100 victory on TNT for the world to see, the Suns lost 7 straight by an average of almost 20 points per night, and 21 of their next 24 overall.
They had the league’s worst offense and worst defense. They were slow, and turnover-prone, and mind-numbingly bad.
So don’t take too much stock in tonight’s game outcome, okay? Right, Espo?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about the outcome. You should definitely expect the Suns to win a home opener against the middling, though pretty good, opponent.
I call a Suns win: 115-108.
Do the Suns win tonight?
This poll is closed