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NBA: Phoenix Suns at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns 2023 expectations - are they still contenders?

Are the Suns still contenders? Is their title window closed? Will Ayton stay beyond the trade deadline?

The Phoenix Suns are coming off their best regular season in franchise history. With how shaky the Western Conference appeared heading into the postseason, there was little doubt amongst NBA circles that the Suns would make it to the finals yet again.

However, after blowing a 3-2 lead to the scrappy Dallas Mavericks, the Suns find themselves in the same position as last season except with a more disgruntled Ayton and a slightly older Chris Paul.

Will this make a difference?


Regular Season expectations

The Suns will almost surely not reach 64 wins again and the Suns (should) be a worse team on paper if for no other reason than the fact CP3 is older and likely to decline in play. The argument against this is that the Suns were quite injured last year so if they have any real semblance of health in the regular season why wouldn’t they be better? Because it doesn’t always work that way.

The Suns also benefited from many teams last season simply not being that good in the regular season. The Suns and Grizzlies were the only truly consistently great teams before the playoffs which should not be the case this season.

But even if the Suns win 56 games instead of 64 that doesn’t really mean their title odds are any worse because if we learned anything in recent years it’s that regular season win totals do not mean as much as we want them to. It’s a big part of why so many stars rest games.

There is also a chance that Deandre Ayton is not even on the team by the time the regular season ends as he is eligible to be traded in mid-January and attempted to leave not even one month ago.

Now unless he explicitly requests a trade (or a star on another team requests trade to Phoenix cough cough KD) the odds of him being moved are slim to none. Teams don’t move impact pieces like Ayton willy-nilly very often. So expect Ayton to finish this season in the AZ.

Expectation: 58 wins, 2nd seed

Playoff Expectations

Here is where things get tricky. Because of the way the past two playoffs finished for the Suns, most are not expecting them to be true contenders for the title despite bringing back the same team that had a real chance to win the championship in each of the last two years.

I won’t go as far as to say the Suns are currently the title favorite but it would be silly to dismiss them altogether. Ultimately due to their excellent chemistry and roster construction, I believe they, at worst, make the second round but could go as far as the NBA finals.

I don’t really see them winning the championship without key injuries to other contenders such as the Clippers Nuggets Warriors and Bucks but anything less than a conference finals should be seen as a disappointment (barring injury).

Expectation: Lose in six games during conference finals

Poll

How far will the Suns go in the playoffs this year?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    First round
    (35 votes)
  • 21%
    Second round
    (97 votes)
  • 24%
    Conference Finals
    (111 votes)
  • 12%
    Finals
    (57 votes)
  • 33%
    Champions!
    (153 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now

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