The NBA normally releases the season schedule during the second week of August. The general consensus regarding scheduling seems to be it doesn't matter or have a big impact on a team's success. And while ultimately a team's success is determined more so by other factors, early season schedules can have a significant impact on a young rising team. Confidence is such an underrated aspect, and getting an easier early schedule can go a long ways for a young team.
It's no coincidence that Sacramento (started 16-13, finished 39-43) and Dallas (started 15-11, 23-27 before fire-sale) both were at the top of the league for easiest early season strength of schedule.
# of games vs. East
# of games vs. sub .500 teams (first 30 games)
# of games vs. 35 win or less teams (first 30 games)
# of games vs. bottom 5 teams (first 30 games)
10 of first 26 games (5 playoff teams)
10 of first 27 games (2 playoff teams)
10 of first 33 games (8 playoff teams)
It's pretty staggering to see the brutal schedule Phoenix had early last season compared to the Kings and Mavs. After opening vs. Dallas, the Suns then played Denver, GSW, LAL, Mem (healthy), OKC, SA, and Toronto in a row! Then the Suns finally had a 6 game stretch vs. the east but it's vs. Philly, Chi, Mil, Det, Orl and Ind. Brutal. Phoenix played only ONE bottom feeder until December 17th.The Suns didn't even host a bottom feeder until February 2nd!!!
Dallas and Sacramento were both in the 8 seed race for most of the season. Dallas would have finished much better if they didn't trade half their roster at the deadline to tank. The easier early season schedules definitely gave both these teams confidence in their ability to win. Confidence is so huge for an unproven young team trying to find an identity.
So all that being said, we really should be rooting for an easier early season schedule. It really enhances our potential upside this season. It would be nice to have an early east coast road trip. Confidence is key, and playing top 10 teams all jammed into the beginning of the season is an easy way to start... let's say... 4-22.
An improved roster and much easier early season schedule is the best chance of Phoenix having a breakout season. Part 1 seems to be taken care of. Hopefully the NBA doesn't screw Phoenix again this year.