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Inside the Suns: Predictions for the first 20 games and the full season, Deandre Ayton’s FIBA performance

Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.

Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.

Each week the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders - give their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - What are your (very early) predictions for the first 20 games of the season?

GuarGuar: I have us starting 16-4 to start the season. I think we will be ready to roll on opening night and there won’t be some huge transition period. I think we will be among the leagues best to start the year. This team should have a goal of being the #1 overall seed to get home court advantage in the playoffs.

  • Oct 24 - @ Golden State-W
  • Oct 26 - @ LA Lakers-L
  • Oct 28 - vs Utah-W
  • Oct 31 - vs San Antonio-W
  • Nov 2 - vs San Antonio-W
  • Nov 4 - @ Philadelphia-W
  • Nov 5 - @ Detroit-W
  • Nov 8 - @ Chicago-W
  • Nov 10 - vs LA Lakers-W
  • Nov 12 - vs OKC-L
  • Nov 15 - vs Minnesota-W
  • Nov 17 - @ Utah-W
  • Nov 19 - @ Utah-W
  • Nov 21 - vs Portland-W
  • Nov 22 - vs Golden State-W
  • Nov 24 - @ Memphis-L
  • Nov 26 - @ New York-W
  • Nov 29 - @ Toronto-W
  • Dec 1 - vs Denver-L
  • Dec 2 - vs Memphis-W

OldAz: 14-6 overall. One of my favorite recurring articles on Bright Side is the in season piece that breaks it down by 8-10 game stretches and looks back to see how well our predictions did the last stretch of games and then looks forward to predict the next set of games. This is great because it is close enough in scope that we know how each team is playing, who is healthy, and other in season variables like fatigue and motivation. This is about as far as I am comfortable looking forward. For this question, I tried to do it game by game and it is way too early and there are way too many variables. I tried looking at 5 game stretches and each was a toss up between 4-1 and 3-2, so I split the difference and believe they will end up right around 14-6 through this initial stretch.

(No individual game predictions given.)

Brrrberry: 16-4. I’d guess we lose two of those 5 games from Nov 24-December 2nd—one of them being @ NY and the other one being one of the two against Memphis or the Denver game. I think we start 13-2 and Im having a hard time choosing where the first two losses come. I think whenever we’ve got a full roster we’re going to kill everyone.

(No individual game predictions given.)

Rod: I’m going with 15-5. I think the Suns will start out hot and have a good chance to almost all of their home games in this stretch after starting 1-1.

  • Oct 24 - @ Golden State - W
  • Oct 26 - @ LA Lakers - L
  • Oct 28 - vs Utah - W
  • Oct 31 - vs San Antonio - W
  • Nov 2 - vs San Antonio - W
  • Nov 4 - @ Philadelphia - W
  • Nov 5 - @ Detroit - W
  • Nov 8 - @ Chicago - W
  • Nov 10 - vs LA Lakers - W
  • Nov 12 - vs OKC - W
  • Nov 15 - vs Minnesota - W
  • Nov 17 - @ Utah - L
  • Nov 19 - @ Utah - W
  • Nov 21 - vs Portland - W
  • Nov 22 - vs Golden State - L
  • Nov 24 - @ Memphis - L
  • Nov 26 - @ New York - L
  • Nov 29 - @ Toronto - W
  • Dec 1 - vs Denver - W
  • Dec 2 - vs Memphis - W

Q2 - Bleacher Report is predicting that the Suns will finish 2023-24 with a 50-32 record (in a 4-way tie for the 3rd best record in the NBA behind Denver and Boston, both at 52-30). What are your thoughts on their prediction?

GuarGuar: I think we’re going to see a dominant regular season from this team, assuming good health. Home court advantage is big and last postseason proved that. Being the 1 seed should be our goal and I think we will have the best record in the NBA this year.

OldAz: Like I said in #1, full season predictions are a stretch for me. It is way too early, there are way too many variables (like injuries) so any prediction is more like a stab in the dark. However, this prediction says that the Suns are one of the 3 best teams and that they see little separation between these top teams (2 games total). On that alone, it is a reasonable prediction. I do believe the Suns have a lot more upside, however, and that 50 wins is closer to their floor than their ceiling. I don’t see the Suns far below 50 wins, but could totally see this being a historic season if everything falls the right way for them.

Brrrberry: I’ve got the team going 60-22. If we had the luck of the 2020/21 team I think we’d challenge the franchise record win total. We’re being majorly underrated by just about everyone. Denver is going to win more than 52 games, so will Boston and Milwaukee. I’d have OKC as my dark horse team if Chet can stay healthy, wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up eeking near 50 wins. I’d probably take the over with the Jazz too, that is, if they’re trying to compete for wins and not a better draft slot which I’m completely unsure of. I’m a fan of Will Hardy and Marc Daigneault, both guys that coach with a lot of energy and I think you see it reflected in the players on the court. I like how both of them really ride the refs too. I’m not sure if that actually helps or hurts a team but I do believe it’s the coaches job to stand up for the players and let the refs know when they’re doing a poor job, which is something I see both of those guys do plenty of.

Rod: Barring a rash of injuries, I think their prediction is a bit low. 50 wins would be my minimum expectation for this team if they stay mostly healthy. I really wouldn’t go a lot higher though as there are a lot of very good teams in the West and East this year and, as good as the Suns seem on paper, it’s still going to be tough for anyone to get to 60 or more wins. I’d say that 55-56 wins is more realistic considering the fact that there are going to be at least some relatively minor injuries to players throughout the season and the Suns will be missing important players from time to time which could tip the scales in their opponents’ favor on any given night.

Q3 - What are your thoughts on Deandre Ayton’s performance with the Bahaman national team in the FIBA Olympic qualifying games?

GuarGuar: Ayton looked really good and aggressive in his games for the Bahamas. Hopefully that experience can help him gain his confidence back and relight that fire. We know he’s capable of being a dominant force, we’ve just yet to consistently see it outside of the 2021 playoffs. Hopefully Vogel is really what makes the difference for DA.

OldAz: I despise making judgements based on highlights alone, so I am deeply grateful for the few writers and Twitter (X) posters who watched the games and not only shared highlights but gave their overall impressions of DA and the games in general. I am trying to lean more on those observations than strictly the highlights.

I love seeing and hearing about greater aggression by him, about finding ways to impact the game when shots are not falling, overcoming being a focal point of the other teams defense, and him being a vocal leader. I also liked seeing him keep the ball high and pass out of double and triple teams. These are all hugely encouraging and I think he has been stifled some in the past with the star power around him. That star power gets even brighter this year, so I hope he carries over this confidence when the NBA season starts.

On the other side, while it is nice to see him dribble more, his form is way too high and he is way too loose with the ball. NBA players could pick his pocket here, but he will likely only use this when he is 1:1 and has an advantage (which could be a LOT!). Either way, I am looking forward to a great Suns season and DA being a big part of that.

Brrrberry: I’m just glad DA is playing meaningful games in the offseason and not at home playing video games. I work with a couple of other mega Suns fans and I had shown them pics of DA as a rookie compared to DA last year and he had lost a consider amount of muscle mass, even looked a bit skinny. I had explained to them I thought there was no excuse for this other than not putting the work in. Most guys once they become multi millionaires they put on a decent amount of weight over the first 5 years of their career. They’ve got the financial means to invest in their health/bodies, free time to put in the work and an employer that will spare no expense to get the most out of their players.

KD for example was listed at 185 when he came in and now, depending on where you look he’s listed at 230-240. So he’s put on around 50lb since he came in. What I’m getting at is that I’m over the moon about the work he’s put in the weight room this summer, he looks great. I don’t think he necessarily needs to put on any weight because it’s not like he’s known for throwing his weight around, but we do want him ripped like he is currently. Peak condition for DA ensures he’s quicker and more agile than most his peers. He obviously took a vested interest in team Bahamas success and wanted to WIN. With how last season ended, it was natural to wonder if that was important to him.

Beyond his improved fitness and overall desire I didn’t see a whole lot of growth in his offensive game but I didn’t necessarily expect that out of him. There’s only so much you can improve on in a couple months. That said, if he stays locked in like he appears to be atm, I’m fully expecting him to add more to his game over the coming months and years. Personally I couldn’t be any more pleased with where DA is atm relative to what I’d consider realistic expectations.

Rod: I’m encouraged by his performance on the Bahamas squad but that’s tempered by the fact that none of the teams they played against had true NBA quality bigs on their rosters. I really liked the fact that DA seemed to be one of the team’s leaders vocally. That takes confidence which I hope very much carries over to the NBA season.

If he gets off to a good start, I think that will fuel him to work even harder and help put an end to the hesitation (likely due to indecision) I’ve seen from him in the past when it came to doing things he obviously wasn’t too comfortable with (such as putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket rather than settling for a short jumper).

I’m very much looking forward to watching him play in preseason which should give us an early indication as to whether his FIBA game play will carry over.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!


Last Week’s poll results

Last week’s question was, “The NBA’s in-season tournament is...”

10% - A really good idea!

43% - A near meaningless gimmick.

47% - Ask me again after we see how the 1st one works out.

A total of 245 votes were cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Did Deandre Ayton’s performance with the Bahamas team encourage you to think his play for the Suns will significantly improve this season?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Yes.
    (143 votes)
  • 12%
    No.
    (42 votes)
  • 46%
    Kind of but I’m not holding my breath.
    (160 votes)
345 votes total Vote Now

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