In less than a month, the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns will kick off their preseason games, followed shortly by the start of the regular season on October 24th.
This season marks a period of adjustment, as Monty Williams won't be coaching the team for the first time since 2019, and Chris Paul will be wearing a Warriors uniform after three successful seasons in Phoenix.
The Suns are also welcoming star guard Bradley Beal, along with former NBA champion coach Frank Vogel, and a group of veteran minimum players who hope to make meaningful contributions to what is shaping up to be a championship-contending team. While the expectations are high, there are still some unexpected achievements that both the team and individual players could potentially accomplish in the upcoming season.
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Devin Booker to average 30 points per game
Devin Booker is renowned as one of the most naturally gifted scorers in basketball. He recently achieved a career-high average of 27.8 points per game in the previous season, and it's reasonable to expect that his scoring prowess will remain strong, especially with the talents of Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal around him.
However, there are some factors to consider. There's some uncertainty about Durant's durability, and the team lacks a traditional "pure" point guard. These factors might lead to Booker having more on-ball responsibilities than he's had since the bubble. While his shooting style and volume are likely to remain consistent, there's a good chance his efficiency, especially from beyond the three-point line, could improve. Booker will be looking to add a cap to his resume after confirming his availability for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Eric Gordon to keep smashing three-pointers
In the realm of Phoenix Suns' free agency signings, it's safe to say that Gordon's acquisition stands out as one of the most significant. On paper, he brings a valuable skill set as a versatile three-and-D wing and is well-regarded as a sharpshooter from beyond the three-point line. However, it's worth noting that he hasn't surpassed the 200 three-point mark in a season since 2018-19 during his time with the Houston Rockets. Additionally, there have been seasons where his shooting efficiency dipped.
Nevertheless, the goal of hitting 200 three-pointers this season seems within reach for Gordon. There are several factors at play here. First, his shooting focus is expected to shift predominantly to three-pointers. Over the past two seasons, he averaged about five three-point attempts per game along with roughly three two-point attempts. In Phoenix, his role is likely to resemble his time alongside James Harden in Houston.
Secondly, the Suns' environment represents a prime opportunity for Gordon. This is arguably the best situation he has been in since his tenure with the formidable Houston teams. The spacing created by lineups featuring Booker, Durant, and Beal is an ideal setting for a sharpshooter like Gordon to thrive.
Lastly, his 22-game stint with the Clippers last season showcased that he can still shoot efficiently with higher volume. He connected on an impressive 42% of his attempts while taking five threes per game. If he can maintain that level of efficiency while increasing his attempts to around eight threes per game and participating in roughly 70 games, as he did last season, hitting the 200 three-pointer mark is a plausible achievement.
60 wins for the Suns
At first glance, this might not seem like a groundbreaking insight, but a few potential hurdles could prevent this achievement.
The NBA's current landscape is notably more balanced than perhaps any other period in the 21st century. This balance can lead to increased game-to-game unpredictability, making consistently hitting milestones challenging.
Moreover, the Suns have added several new players to their roster, which could result in a slower start to the season as everyone, including players and coaches, gets acclimated to each other.
Furthermore, there are concerns about the durability of the Suns' big three during the regular season. Despite these challenges, the 2023-24 Suns have the potential to develop the strongest team chemistry in the league and boast one of the most potent offenses. Additionally, there's an expectation of defensive improvement under Coach Vogel's leadership, and Devin Booker's continuous growth is anticipated. Bradley Beal should also find renewed energy in this favorable situation.
One thing remains certain – regardless of whether these predictions materialize, the upcoming season promises to be incredibly exciting for Suns fans and basketball enthusiasts alike.