The Phoenix Suns have played 76 of their 82 games already, with just six remaining before the NBA playoffs begin in two weeks. And yet today’s injury report is the first time all season that the Suns have ‘None to Report’.
According to ManGamesLost.com, the Phoenix Suns have suffered the most impactful injuries this season of all NBA teams. By contrast, the Sacramento Kings have been the healthiest, losing only 51 total games to injury/health protocols.
So many important players have missed so many games for the Suns that it’s quite possible Mikal Bridges, who was traded away nearly two months ago, might still finish with the most minutes played on the team this year. Center Deandre Ayton would take the top spot if he plays in the Suns final 6 games, but he’s missed almost 1 of every 5 this year.
Per ManGamesLost.com, while the Suns have not missed the most total games to injury, they have definitely missed the most impactful as measured by an advanced statistic called VORP (Value Over Replacement Player).
And funnily enough, the ManGamesLost.com database did not include Jae Crowder all season because he wasn’t injured. So, if you’re like me and still consider Jae a loss this season — since he’d started most games the past two years and played 30 minutes per game — the Suns have even more separation from the pack.
Take a close look at that list above. The top four teams are four of the disappointing teams in the ‘weak’ West this year.
Those four are currently 4th, 9th, 7th and 6th in the West standings with half a dozen games to go. The 8th seeded Timberwolves, who’ve missed their All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns for 50+ games, didn’t even make the top five.
No wonder the West might only have two or three 50-game winners in the whole conference — a far cry from the days when 8 teams would hit the 50 mark.
Remember 2014, where the 48-34 Suns finished 9th in the West and out of the playoffs entirely? Me too.
Pundits are calling the Western Conference Playoffs wide open. The play-in tournament, which pits the 7th-10th seed against each other for the final 7th and 8th playoff seeds could be a couple of days of excellent basketball and could produce a pair of teams that could beat the top West seeds in a seven-game series.
Once the real playoffs begin, only a dozen wins are likely separate the 1st seed from the 8th seed. Last year, the Suns started the playoffs with 26 more wins than the Pelicans.
Where will the Suns finish? Only 5 losses separate the 4th-seeded Suns from the 12th seed as of today.
If the Suns go 0-6 in their final 6 games and their play-in game while all the other teams catch fire and win just the right games on just the right days, they could miss the playoffs entirely. Though basketball-reference.com’s playoffs probabilities engine, which runs 10,000 simulations, gives that only a 0.6% chance of happening.
B-ref now thinks the Suns have 78% of claiming the 4th seed and a 97% chance of claiming a top six seed and avoiding the play-in.
And that’s quite the accomplishment considering the injuries the Suns have dealt with this year.
The Suns play the West’s top seeded Denver Nuggets tonight in Phoenix. The Nuggets lead the season series 2-0, but those two wins were without Devin Booker and a handful of other important players. Tonight’s game will not only feature Booker but also this guy named Kevin Durant.