With the regular season tipping off in just a matter of days, season preview szn is among us.
The variance between what the Phoenix Suns are capable of — as well as what can go wrong — is looking a lot more substantial than it did earlier in the offseason with different variables such as Cam Johnson starting, furthered development of Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton, a questionable bench, and frankly the age of someone like Chris Paul.
So where could the Suns find themselves come April, May, and June?
Best case scenario for the Suns this season?
The franchise’s first NBA Championship still feels within reach to me if everything goes right. That includes each of the big 3 staying healthy through the playoffs, that includes potential additions via Jae Crowder or at February’s trade deadline, and that includes role players stepping up in big moments.
Worst case scenario?
There’s a disaster scenario in play in my opinion, and with an ever-rising Western Conference, that could end up with the Suns in the play-in tournament. That looks like all those important points in the best case section going completely in the opposite direction — injuries plaguing the team, bad returns in trades, and the bench struggling.
Remember that preseason game against the Adelaide 36ers where the Suns’ starters were all in double-figures in the plus/minus column but the team still lost by double digits (which I don’t buy into at all)? If those sorts of games become a regularity, finishing outside the top 6 in the West is relatively realistic.
Most likely scenario?
Everything is pointing to the Suns finishing around the 3-6 seed range going into the playoffs. Winning as many regular season games as possible isn’t as big of an emphasis as it was a season ago, but avoiding the play-in still is, and getting homecourt advantage in the first round likely still is as well (top 4 seed). They still have plenty enough talent to get that done in my opinion.
What happens in the playoffs is a little more unclear. I highly doubt this is a first round exit team, and they were one win away from a second consecutive conference finals appearance, even despite all the schematic and execution flaws of last year’s squad. But anything can happen when it’s two teams searching for four wins.
What are you most excited for this season?
Don’t be surprised when the site contributor that loves focusing on the draft and development of young players says the development of Bridges, Johnson, and Ayton, with the former two taking more frequent on-ball initiation reps. I’m excited to see what the guys look like in those situations.
Mikal Bridges with a bit more off-dribble stuff in his pregame work (ditto for Cam) pic.twitter.com/zybgvKSeyZ— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) October 3, 2022
Predicting the Suns’ win/loss record and conference seeding:
55-27; 4th seed in the West
- wing Josh Okogie
- guard Duane Washington Jr. (two-way contract; can play up to 50 regular season games)
- guard Frank Jackson (training camp deal)
- wing Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (training camp deal)
- guard/wing Damion Lee
- big Jock Landale
- big JaVale McGee (starting for Dallas Mavericks)
- guard Elfrid Payton (free agent)
- guard Aaron Holiday (Atlanta Hawks)
- big Frank Kaminsky (Atlanta Hawks)
- guard Iffe Lundberg (Virtus Bologna of EuroLeague)
- wing Jae Crowder (imminent trade, wouldn’t list it if not for how the team has talked about it)
Last season’s record, seeding, and ratings:
64-18; 1st in the NBA by 8 games; offensive rating of 115.65 (4th), defensive rating of 108.17 (3rd), for a net rating of +7.48 (2nd).
What are your predictions for this season’s team?