The 2021-22 season is almost here. Preseason ball starts October 4th and the season opener is October 20th.
Get excited, Suns fans! Phoenix basketball is back!
That’s no disrespect to the Mercury who I hope can capture that ultimate prize. It’s just we know how this team being good can envelop the entire Valley.
Even if it is the women’s team that’s won it all. Three times. The same number of times the men’s team has been to the Finals. Come on, fellas!
As recently as a few years ago, the torture was so severe that we almost couldn’t wait for the seasons to end. Now, I was ready for this season to start as soon as the last one finished. Actually, I never wanted last season to stop. At least, not without 2 more Ws.
BrightSide fellas, let’s talk this upcoming season and Larry O’Brien hunt.
Continuity is underrated, I feel. James Jones agrees as rather than trying to do anything major this offseason, he mainly kept the roster intact. However, there were a few changes.
OUT: Jevon Carter (Nets), Torrey Craig (Pacers), E’Twaun Moore (Magic), Langston Galloway (Warriors) and Ty-Shon Alexander (Italy)
1 - Who are you going to miss the most from last season?
Jeff Gallimore: Though each of the departed Suns will forever hold a place in my heart, I will miss Jevon Carter the most. Not only was The Bulldog the longest tenured member of this group, but he was an excellent teammate who never failed to provide maximum effort and hounding defense.
Damon Allred: I don’t think I’ll ever forgive James Jones for waiving Ty-Shon Alexander. I had so much love for him and really believed he would become something after his Summer League showing. Really seemed stylistically like the player you’d get if Devin Booker and Chris Paul had a baby.
Khaleel Abdullah: They’ll all be missed but we hardly knew Moore, Galloway and Ty-Shon. I really wish we could have kept Torrey but if you know me closely, you know I’m a huge Jevon fan. The moment I found out he was traded was rough to say the least. A friend asked if I was OK. He knew. Good luck in Brooklyn, Coach Carter!
Dave King: I will miss Langston Galloway. As a guest on my podcast last season, I got to know him in a way most Suns fans couldn’t, because he simply wasn’t a postgame media star. His kindness and consideration for folks, plus his constant sideline energy, were a great component to last year’s team spirit.
IN: Elfrid Payton, Chasson Randle (training camp deal for now), Landry Shamet, Chandler Hutchison and JaVale McGee
2 - Who are you most excited to see in a Suns jersey this season?
Jeff: JaVale has to be the addition I am most excited about. I will stan Frank and Dario until death, and am excited to see what Stix does this season, but JaVale provides the physicality, mobility, and size they could not (or did not get the chance to) during the Finals. On top of that, he is always a good bet for an insightful interview or quote.
Dave: Gotta be McGee for me. Sure I’m excited about the Suns adding a shooter in Shamet, but we will all appreciate McGee’s ferocity on pick and roll dunks and high-flying blocks in his short minutes. Deandre Ayton can’t help but glean some of that energy, right?
Damon: I’m pumped for Shamet. Really hoping we see some weird lineups with him like Book, Shamet, Mikal, Johnson, and Ayton and just be lethal from deep 1-4.
Khaleel: It comes down to Shamet and McGee. I’ll enjoy the firepower Landry will bring (hopefully) off the bench but the personality and demeanor of Javale, a big goofball who also happens to have several rings, wins this for me. His size and rim protection in the Finals could have been the missing ingredient in our Larry O’Brien recipe.
3 - The first time the Suns play each of their playoff foes from last season are Game #1 on October 20 (Nuggets), Game #2 on October 22 (Lakers), Game #26 on December 13 (Clippers) and Game #55 on February 10 (Bucks).
Which game are you looking most forward to?
Damon: I’m most looking forward to the Denver game, but only for the sake of it being the first game of the year, and I’m itching to get back to analyzing concrete basketball.
Khaleel: Am I the only one that’s happy we get to wait before having to see the team that shattered our dreams? It’s definitely not Milwaukee for me. I’m going to pick two here and just say that starting the season 2-0 would really grab people’s attention if we didn’t have it already.
Jeff: Lakers. It is always the Lakers for me, given the big brother-little brother dynamic between the squads. I despise them.
After springing his friends from their retirement homes, LeBron and Co. seem to be offseason media darlings in the west. I am excited to see the Suns try and erase that narrative.
Dave: I’m excited for the Lakers game. Supposedly, AD and LeBron will be healthy, right? Or will they still be nursing injuries we should excuse another loss for?
4 - Let’s make some receipts for later. What are your predictions for this coming season? How many wins? Best in the West? NBA Champs? Any individual awards?
Damon: Any fewer than 60 wins would be a bit of a disappointment for me. I do like Phoenix’s chances to come out with the top seed, though if Dallas can find a way to eventually make the Dragic move happen, they’re a solid dark horse candidate. Hard picking anyone but Brooklyn if they’re healthy.
Let’s start the Mikal for Most Improved campaign asap! He and Ayton should absolutely both be All-Defense and if Booker is snubbed for All-NBA again, they’ll have to put my name on a watchlist.
Dave: I’ll say there’s a bit of a regular season hangover (55 wins, 2nd in West), but come playoff time the Suns will be the most dangerous team out there, and would not be surprised with another Finals appearance.
As far as individual awards: Booker for All-NBA, Mikal and DA for All-Defensive teams, and Cameron Payne could be a surprise Sixth Man of the Year.
Jeff: The Phoenix Suns will be the 2021-22 NBA champions. I will wager a Paqui One Chip Challenge on it. Although the west is tough, this squad is legit. I agree with Damon and think they will win somewhere between 60-65 games.
While I would not pick either Book or Chris to win MVP, I think one of the two will get votes. The same goes for DA and DPOY.
As for bringing home hardware, I believe DA, Mikal, and Cam J could all vie for Most Improved. If I had to pick one of the three, it would be DA. I think he has solid momentum after piquing national curiosity during the playoff run. Bonus predictions to Cam Payne challenging for Sixth Man of the Year and Monty not getting robbed for Coach of the Year this season.
Khaleel: Any less than 55 wins would be disappointing to me. If the team has the same winning percentage as last season, they’d get 58 victories in this full 82-game season. So, let’s go for 55-60 and one of the top two teams if not the best team in the West. You want to have the same regular season success, if not better (preferably). As for the playoffs, we have some unfinished business. Let’s go!
I’m expecting some rude snubs individually, to be honest. However, in a perfect world, two or three of CP3, Book and DA would be All-Stars and/or All-NBA selections, Mikal and DA would named to the All-Defensive Teams and one of the Cams would be in the running for Sixth Man.