Let’s take a break from the Sarver discussions for a minute. After all, we have a full season of Phoenix Suns basketball ahead of us, and with training camp starting next Tuesday, it’s time to focus on what we like about the Suns rather than what we don’t.
Expectations are high for this Suns’ squad. They’re two-time defending Pacific Division Champions. They are one season removed from making a trip to the NBA Finals for only the third time in franchise history. And while they did crash and burn in a historically infamous fashion, all of the key pieces are returning for a potential revenge tour fueled by that loss in Game 7.
Earlier this week, we discussed how Vegas sees the Suns this season, as seen by the odds that have been posted by several sports books. Now it’s time to examine how people see our beloved Suns’ rosters and their potential individual performances. What are the possibilities that this squad will have players who bring home some personal hardware at the end of the season?
All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Sixth Man of the Year: Cameron Johnson +2500
He was a candidate last year, finishing third in voting for the Sixth Man of the Year Award last season. Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat ultimately took home the award. Had Cameron Johnson stayed healthy after his monumental game winning shot against the New York Knicks, who knows? He may have eventually walked away with the trophy in his possession.
After that game winning shot, which surely got the attention of the national media, Johnson missed the next 13 games with an injury.
Cam enters this season with the seventh best odds of winning the award, trailing Jordan Poole (+450), Tyler Herro (+500), Malcolm Brogdon (+1200), Bones Hyland (+1400), Jordan Clarkson (+1800), and Spencer Dinwiddie (+2000).
Read that list again.
Malcolm Brogdon, I can see, He is joining a potent Celtics team that will benefit from his assistance and stability, especially if coming off the bench. But Denver's Bones Hyland? Goes to show you that, much akin to Jon Snow, I know nothing.
Defensive Player of the Year: Mikal Bridges +1500
Second place might be the first loser, but when was the last time the Phoenix Suns had somebody who was mentioned amongst the league’s defensive greats? I’ll wait.
It’s hard for a wing to win this award. Hell, it’s hard for anyone who is not a center to win it. When the opportunity came last season, a guard one for the first time since Gary Payton did in 1996. Marcus Smart won the DPOY and Mikal Bridges came in second.
How does Vegas see his odds this year? They know it is a center-based award. The top two contenders play center as Rudy Golbert (+425) and Robert Williams (+700) top the list. Mikal finds himself with the fifth best odds, trailing the aforementioned centers, as well as a 32-year old ‘new media’ member in Draymond Green (+1100) and the Greek Freak himself Giannis Antetokounmpo (+1200).
Coach of the Year: Monty Williams +1400
Perhaps the luster around Monty Williams is beginning to fade. Or you could say that winning has become such a common place for the coach, that he no longer finds himself at the top of the oddsmakers boards for Coach of the Year candidates.
Williams won the award last season, and – let’s be frank – he was robbed the year before by Tim Thibodeau. Just because you took a crap franchise to the playoffs, doing so with a 41-31 record, shouldn't garner you the award. Oh well, trophies don’t matter unless they’re the Larry, and least coast bias.
Monty is tied for sixth best odds this season with Steve Nash and JB Bickerstaff. The best odds? Boston’s Ime Udoka (+650)
Most Improved Player: Deandre Ayton +3000
The though of this excites me. Not the odds. Those are crap. The thought of Deandre Ayton thrashing the league after receiving his new contract.
I can see the headlines now and I can see Twitter imploding from within. The Ayton Stans laughing hysterically as the quote tweets from 2018, manically gaining satisfaction as they type out their twisted version of “I told you so” while sitting at a green light, ignoring the frustrated echoes of cars stuck behind them in traffic.
Imagine DA was simply the small version of Mario, and his contract was a mushroom. He eats in and then BAM! Super DA! Time to stop some koopas!
All of that being said, his odds to do so are 12th best per DraftKings. +3000 is long shot and DA would have to put up some dominate numbers to supplant Vegas’ favorite MIP, another #1 overall pick, Anthony Edwards (+1000).
Most Valuable Player: Devin Booker +3000
If the Suns want to win a championship, they will have to do so behind Devin Booker. He’s entering his prime and has the arsenal to carry a team. He’s done all the right things and taken all the necessary steps to be “the guy”.
This season he truly has a chance to be that dude.
Vegas doesn’t necessarily see it that way, knowing that there may be better narratives that exist. That’s what it’s all about with the MVP, isn’t it? It’s the story. And that is the crux of the Devin Booker situation. He isn’t overly flashy. He doesn’t “wow” you with posterizations or put up 40+ points in long stretches of games.
Outside of dating Kendall Jenner, Booker doesn’t have much of a narrative to build upon. What he has learned to do is put his head down and help his team win. After all, that is what matters. So unless the statistics are through-the-roof amazing, he won’t garner the MVP.
The current odds-on favorite is Luka Doncic (+425). Great. Like we need more ammo for the Mavs fans this season...
There you have it. Place your bets on the longshots, because that is what the majority of the player-based bets are this season. Vegas does not see the Suns as a team lead by stars, rather, they are a team that is successful due to the sum of their parts.
Truthfully, I prefer it that way.