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GM Survey: Suns much more sparse than a year ago

After taking up a lot of space in the 2021-22 survey, the Suns are mentioned a lot less ahead of 2022-23

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns - Game Seven Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NBA’s annual GM survey was released on Tuesday morning, so it’s time to assess how the league views the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix didn’t get any love for title predictions, but they did come up third in the Western Conference rankings.

GMs were asked to place their top four teams, and scoring was judged that way. Suns got 3% of the 1st place vote, 21% of 2nd, 41% of 3rd, and 10% of 4th. The LA Clippers and Golden State finished in the two spots ahead of the Suns, with each getting 48% of the 1st place vote.

The Suns also didn’t show up in the first few player predictions, like MVP or breakout candidates, however, the backcourt was well-represented in positional rankings.

Chris Paul finished third among point guards with 10% of the vote — Steph Curry got 72% and Luka Doncic got 14% — while Devin Booker took the top spot among shooting guards with 45%; oddly enough, Doncic and Curry come up right behind him with 28% and 17% of the vote respectively.

Due to the nature of what ended up being a quiet offseason, the Suns also don’t show up in any of the questions regarding the summer. That makes sense. Onto the next.

Things get weird when we get to the defensive side of things. Mikal Bridges, who finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting just a matter of months ago, does not show up under “best defensive player in the NBA.” Bridges only gets 7% of the vote for “best perimeter player,” — granted the guys ahead of him are Marcus Smart, Jrue Holiday, and Kawhi Leonard — and he only “received votes” under “most versatile defender.”

That’s bad voting, and it’s only enforced by Smart, who won the actual award, also not getting mentioned under “best defensive player,” though he came in first for “perimeter defender” with 41% of the vote.

The Suns did get some love for their head coach, still fresh off his Coach of the Year win in 2021-22. Monty Williams finished tied for third in the “best head coach” voting with his mentor, Gregg Popovich; both received 7% of the vote. Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, winning for a third year in a row, finished with 52% of the vote, and Golden State’s Steve Kerr had 22%.

Coach Williams was also mentioned under “best manager/motivator of people,” where he received 28% of the vote behind Kerr’s 32%. Williams finished first a year ago.

Williams finished in the “receiving votes” category for “best offense” as well as 7% of the vote (tied for third) for “best defensive scheme.”

Paul came in first (32%) for “which active player will make the best head coach” for the third straight season, ahead of two New Orleans Pelicans: Garrett Temple (14%) and CJ McCollum (7%).

The survey closed with a myriad of miscellaneous questions, but the Suns only show up in a few of them, so this will be a rapid round:

  • League’s most efficient offense? Suns tied for 4th with 7% of the vote
  • Best at moving without the ball? Bridges in the “receiving votes” category behind Curry’s 81% and Klay Thompson’s 12%
  • Best passer? Paul tied for 2nd at 10% with Doncic; Nikola Jokic in 1st with 72%
  • Best leader? Paul in 1st at 34%, ahead of Curry, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Damian Lillard to round out the top 5
  • Best basketball IQ? Paul in 3rd at 14% behind James’s 45% and Jokic’s 24%
  • Best to take a shot with the game on the line? Booker not mentioned despite shooting 70.8 TS% in the clutch (higher than Curry’s 47.1 who finished in 1st, Durant’s 53.6 who finished in 2nd, and Lillard’s 41.1 who finished in 3rd)

Kind of in a weird middle ground where the Suns are kind of getting some of their due credit, but kind of getting underrated still in other areas. The final Booker omission is truly puzzling to me, especially when you remember that they already voted for him as best shooting guard.

Here’s to hoping the Suns prove a lot of people wrong in all the right ways this season — and prove the believers right.

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