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Center of the Sun: Bold predictions for the Suns’ 2019-20 season

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What are your expectations of the Suns this year?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Today is Media Day for the Suns. Bright Side of the Sun will be there and bring you up to date on everything worth reporting on later and there will be live coverage on the Suns’ official website via their Rise Network as the activities begin.

UPDATE: If the link above doesn’t work you can follow live on Twitter. (link below)

Dave King gave everyone a great preview of what to expect yesterday - as well as a look back on media days past - so I’ll forgo repeating what you’ve already heard. One thing is for certain though, the BSotS team will hit up the players and coaches to bring Suns fans lots of new info, photos and videos back from it.

Until then, I decided to join the Fantable this week as we all look into our respective crystal balls to make some bold predictions for the Suns’ upcoming season.


Fantable Question of the Week

This week, I asked everyone for five BOLD predictions for the 2019-20 Suns.

GuarGuar: 1) Deandre Ayton will shoot 35%+ from 3 on 2+ shots per game: I actually believe Ayton worked very hard on his 3pt shot this summer. I think he surprises everyone and shoots pretty well this year.

2) The Suns longest winning streak will be greater than our longest losing streak this year: This is tough considering we’ve had some historic losing streaks during the past few seasons. I think that ends this year and we go on a big winning streak in January.

3) Mikal Bridges will take the starting SF spot from Kelly Oubre before 2020: I’m a big believer in Mikal having a “breakout season”. I think he will start the year coming off the bench, but will play so good it’s impossible to keep him out the starting lineup. He solidifies himself as our 3rd pillar.

4) The Suns are in the 8 seed fight for most/all of this season: I’ve made a similar optimistic pick the past few years... so why not try it again! We have a monster winning jump as a team this season.

5) Devin Booker plays 78+ games, makes an All-NBA team, and finishes top 5 in MVP voting: Book continues to take his game to another level (this time on defense), and with the Suns winning a lot more games, he finally gets the positive national attention he deserves.

Sun-Arc: 1. Ayton will be a monster this season. He’ll show the doubters that he does not lack intensity. No - he won’t live up to Shaq, but he will bully people around in the paint his way - with speed and agility. He’ll dunk on top of people regularly and get to the line far more often.

2. Ayton will also be much better defensively because Monty will have the guys set up better defensively than any time in the past 9 seasons. Saric won’t be great individually, but at least the guards don’t leave Ayton on an island like the past. In reaction to this, DA gets more than 2.7 blocks per 100 possessions (equal with Embiid last season).

3. On the negative side, Oubre and Saric are so awful as starters we have to start Kaminsky and Bridges. Then Kaminsky is so awful as a starter next to Ayton that Diallo has to start until the ASB…

4. …where Saric and Oubre (NOT Johnson) are traded for Aaron Gordon, saving Orlando long-term money, getting a versatile SF to start next to Vuc & Isaac. We get our long-term PF. At first he shines in his role (much like Oubre did last season, and Payton in HIS first few games with us), but soon the shine wears off and we start seeing defensive flaws and fans question the trade.

5. The team’s defense does improve, (it couldn’t get worse) but we still are bottom 5 in the league. Rubio has nagging injuries allowing him to play only 48 games, leaving Booker to reprise his role from last season. Booker also has nagging injuries in the last third of the season, leaving Johnson running the point with Jerome backing him up. Bridges improves a little, but not much as a shooter. In fact, the entire team shoots under 34% again. Even though Booker and Ayton look like stars, the team only amounts 31 wins.

Jones realizes he screwed up the roster, as most of the players could not defend or shoot well (including the rookies), and that’s really what they needed next to Booker and Ayton. Everyone realizes Monty is a great guy, but not a savior as coach. Sarver sees it too and fires Jones and Monty a week after the season ends. And the whole gosh darn thing starts ALL over again.

It’s a bold prediction, which was our task this week. I do not really think that will happen. But, unfortunately one could picture it, right? Here’s to seeing the team shock us/me with how much better the team is over prediction #5!

SDKyle: 1. Devin Booker reaches the all-star game.

Maybe this isn’t that bold a prediction, but I put it down last season and it didn’t happen. So this time I’m serious... it finally happens this year.

2. The Phoenix Suns will be a top 12 offense in the NBA.

I know some people actually think the Suns will be better than this, but this is last season’s #28 unit we’re talking about. Still, there is too much scoring talent on the roster that with a real point guard running the offense I don’t see how this team can be a bottom half of the league offense.

3. There will be a serious “who should start?” controversy at small forward, and nowhere else.

Kelly Oubre is the presumptive starter here for good reason, but at some point in the first 40 games of the season there will be a movement to bench him for Mikal Bridges. I predict the issue will be very divisive among Suns fans, but Oubre will ultimately start a lot more games than Bridges does.

4. Neither Deandre Ayton nor Devin Booker will wow anyone with defensive improvements.

Both guys could improve SOME, but neither is going to look so much better that he flips the script that’s been written on him so far. That said...

5. Ayton will have a 45 point game.

This may be my boldest prediction, because neither KAT nor Embiid reached 45 points last season. But I’m going out on a limb and saying Rubio helps make it happen, and Ayton has a himself a night that gets some attention going 19/27 from the field in a Suns win.

SouthernSun: 1. The Suns will win 40 games this season. They have their star SG. They have their quality young big man who may be a star in the making. They have their couple of young good wings, a decent starting PF, and several solid rotation player veterans. They have an experienced head coach. They have what they need to creep towards .500. And I believe they will almost reach it.

2. Devin Booker will be one of the top three scorers in the NBA, averaging 28ppg, and be in the running for the scoring title, and even get a couple MVP votes.

3. If the Suns are moderately successful, and Saric is okay but unspectacular, the Suns will trade a package of Tyler Johnson or Kelly Oubre (or both) and picks near the deadline for a veteran star or fringe star PF. Love most likely. The trade will probably include Saric, but I’d rather it didn’t.

4. Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker both seem like they’ve improved defensively, in large part due to a functioning defense surrounding them. Bridges, Rubio, Baynes, Tyler Johnson, and Oubre are all competent defenders. Even Saric plays decent team defense. With an experienced head coach and his hand picked staff implementing a defense, and rotation worthy NBA players actually doing it, I could see much the Suns two young stars defensive shortcomings begin to seem less and less worrisome.

5. Deandre Ayton will average 20 and 11 this season, shooting 55% from the field and 33% from three. He will also average 1.3 blocks per game. There will be more than one occurrence of Ayton stealing the ball and running the entire floor himself for a monstrous slam. I know this is several bold predictions at once, but that just makes it even bolder.

Alex Sylvester: These are my bold predictions if things go as well as they can for Phoenix this season.

Five BOLD predictions, let’s go.

1) Monty Williams wins COTY due to the Suns winning an additional 20 games.

2) The Suns will beat the Warriors/Lakers/Clippers a combined 5 or more times.

3) Devin Booker drops 20+ in the ASG.

4) Mikal Bridges makes an all-defense team.

5) James Jones becomes the 2nd best GM in Arizona (Hazen #1).

Rod Argent: Yes, I’m chiming in with 5 bold predictions of my own this week.

1. The Suns will at least double their wins from last season. That means 38-44 is the worst record that I expect them to have at the end of this season.

2. The Suns will significantly improve their three-point shooting this season from 32.9% to around 35.5% while also moderately increasing their attempts per game (29.3 to around 32). They have the long range shooters to do it and I believe that Monty Williams will design his offense to give them the best opportunities to take and make those shots.

3. Devin Booker will have his best season ever, averaging close to 30 ppg with high efficiency. He will also reduce rather than increase his turnovers this season for the first time thanks to Ricky Rubio taking some of the pressure off of him to create his own shots and create for others. At the end of the season this will earn him All-NBA Team honors.

4. None of the Suns’ top players (Booker, Ayton, Rubio, Oubre, Saric, Bridges, Baynes, T. Johnson and Kaminsky) will miss more than 15-16 games due to injuries. (This prediction is just based on my belief that the Suns are due for some good luck regarding injuries this year.)

5. The Suns’ second unit will be good enough that people will start comparing them to the 2009-10 Suns “Bench Mob”.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!


2018-19 Season Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans Full Game Highlights | March 16, 2018-19 NBA Season

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2019.03.16 Suns vs Pelicans - 40 Pts, 13 Asts!

Kelly Oubre Jr. Full Highlights 2019.03.16 Suns vs Pelicans - 32 Pts, 6 Rebs!


Quotes of the Week

”Improvement. I’ve been in the lab. I can say this, I’ve never been in the gym so much my whole life.” - Deandre Ayton on what fans can expect from him this season

”I’m really excited about our roster. I feel like we’ve got a really good team. We’ll be more competitive. Make each other even better.” - Mikal Bridges

”I think Coach Monty is going to do a great job and all the other assistant coaches are going to push us. They want to win, and they want us to get better.” - Mikal Bridges


Interesting Suns Stuff


News & Notes

NBA Season Preview 2019-20: Can the Phoenix Suns take that highly-anticipated leap? NBA.com

Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton’s new Puma shoe pays homage to Bahamas. The Undefeated

Mikal Bridges hearing talk of breakout season, but he just wants Phoenix Suns to win. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic

Suns Announce Roster in Advance of Training Camp. Suns.com

The improved Phoenix Suns have real players and nowhere to go but up. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back


Suns History in Video

NBA Vault: 1976 Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics 3 Overtimes


Suns Trivia

The 1987-88 Suns finished the season with a 29-54 record. During that season they made some key trades before the deadline, then hired an experienced head coach and retooled their roster during the offseason. The 1988-89 Suns finished their season with a 55-27 record (a 27-game turnaround) and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before losing 0-4 to the LA Lakers.

The largest single season turnaround in Suns history belongs to the 2004-05 Suns which improved by a whopping 33 wins (62-20 vs 29-53 for the 2003-04 Suns) which is the 4th largest single season turnaround in NBA history. Their total of 62 wins is tied with the 1992-93 Suns for the most regular season wins in team history.


Previewing the Weeks Ahead

September 30 - Media Day!

October 1 - Training camp opens.

October 6 - Open Practice (FREE!) at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 1:00pm AZT

October 8 - Phoenix Suns vs Minnesota Timberwolves (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 10 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 12 - Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers (preseason), 5:00 pm AZT

October 14 - Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 19 - Last day to waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract and not incur a cap hit.

October 21 - Regular season rosters must be set (17 players maximum including 2 two-way contract players).

October 22 - NBA 2019-20 regular season begins.

October 31 - Last day that teams can exercise team options on the rookie scale contracts of former first-round picks.


Important Future Dates

December 15 - First day that players signed to new contracts can be traded.

  • The Suns cannot trade Frank Kaminsky, Cheick Diallo, Ricky Rubio or Jalen Lecque until 12/15/19 and Kelly Oubre Jr. cannot be traded until 1/15/20.

January 5 - First day that teams can sign players to 10-day contracts.

January 15 - Last day to sign players to Two-Way contracts.

February 6 - NBA Trade Deadline (3 pm ET).


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “This season the Suns’ 3-point shooting will...”

03% - Not improve.

27% - Improve to 34+% (but less than 35%).

53% - Improve to 35+% (but less than 36%).

17% - Improve to 36+%. (only 7 teams shot this well last season)

There were 193 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

What record do you think the Suns will finish the preseason with?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    4-0
    (15 votes)
  • 19%
    3-1
    (46 votes)
  • 61%
    2-2
    (143 votes)
  • 10%
    1-3
    (25 votes)
  • 1%
    0-4
    (3 votes)
232 votes total Vote Now