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Prediction Time! Will the Phoenix Suns lose 50% more games than last year?

That’s the Sportsbooks talking — that the Suns are likely to finish 51-31 a year after they finished 51-21.

2021 NBA Finals - Game One Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Last season is over. Summer is over. Preseason is over. The Phoenix Suns are still the winningest team in the NBA since July 2020.

And none of that matters now that a new season is about to begin.

The Suns are 0-0 like everyone else. Tied for first and tied for last at the same time. Nothing proven, nothing handed to them.

On Zach Lowe’s latest pod with Kevin Pelton, he mentioned off-handedly that “there’s a power vacuum at the top of the West” one episode after acknowledging that some NBA people think the Suns were “not a real Finals team” when asking Bill Simmons why people are not picking the Bucks to repeat their title. I would never have predicted Zach Lowe to be the biggest Suns snubber out there, but here we are. He doesn’t dislike the Suns, he just doesn’t think they are as good as they were last season.

Wins over/under

  • DraftKings: 51.5
  • BetMGM: 51.5
  • Fanduel: 51.5
  • Caesars: 50.5

Vegas is not that excited about the Suns this year, setting the over/under on wins at 51.5 over an 82 game season, a year after they won 51 games in a 72-game season.

Why would Vegas predict a lower win rate for the Suns than last year, when they spent at least a third of the season figuring out how to play together? Remember they started last year 8-8, and it took until March for Deandre Ayton to get comfortable with what they wanted from him on offense.

No one is providing any real evidence on how the Suns will regress. The offense is good. The defense is good. Leadership is good. Continuity is primo. Most of the team is still developing. Why regress?

The only excuse people have is health. They’re now starting to ding the Suns for being too healthy last year. Lowe himself said “if team X can just stay healthy...not Suns healthy...but like B-level healthy...” Seems like the narrative around health is going strong, and being used against the Suns here.

I can see how the Suns might lose a playoff series to a fully healthy, All-NBA-level tripling AD/LeBron/Russ, but have you SEEN that team in the preseason? They played the trio 29+ minutes on Thursday night against the KINGS, who were still doing their preseason thing, and still have not won a game since Andre Drummond clowned the Suns from the sideline. They even played Melo and Rondo 22+ minutes! And still lost. Lakers are not winning more games than the Suns.

Or then there’s the fully healthy Nuggets and Clippers who could hold the Suns down— Except that Kawhi Leonard and Jamal Murray are basically out at least until April if not later, so they won’t be regular season juggernauts.

The West just simply did not get so much better in two months that the Suns are being passed by, to the tune of 50% more losses on the books (from 21 to 31 losses against the same 51 wins).

Who’s going to beat the Suns that much more often in 2021-22? Or are the Suns going to beat themselves?

Last year was no fluke. The Suns didn’t just beat up on bad teams. They were the best in the NBA against the other playoff teams, best in the NBA on the road and second-best in the NBA in the clutch last year. They had the 3rd best point differential among all 30 teams.

And they’re only getting better. This year, all the young guys will be at least a little bit better. Mikal Bridges is learning more on-ball skills. Cameron Johnson made 57% of his threes in preseason and nearly 50% in last year’s playoffs. Deandre Ayton is ready to be more aggressive with the ball. Even Devin Booker can improve — last year was not even Book’s best year in the NBA. He can and will get better.

Then there’s the new guys. I can’t believe how perfect Landry Shamet and JaVale McGee have looked so far in the system. James Jones is a master team-builder.

The only playoff rotation loss is Torrey Craig, who played only 15 minutes a game in the playoffs. Sure, he was good in those minutes but I have more faith in the Shamet/McGee pairing. Heck, even a healthy Abdel Nader is at least a push on Craig.

Nay, the reason the Sportsbooks have set the over/under at 51.5 wins this year for the Suns is because they traditionally scrunch the upper and lower bounds of win total predictions. Only the Nets, Lakers, Jazz and Bucks are projected to have more wins than the Suns, and only the Nets and Bucks have a line higher than 52.5.

Bet the over, Suns fans. Bet the over.

Poll

Will the Suns exceed 51 wins this year?

This poll is closed

  • 93%
    Yes!
    (306 votes)
  • 6%
    No
    (22 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now