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2018-19 NBA Team Preview: Phoenix Suns

2018-19 NBA Team Preview: Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns
2017-18 Record: 21-61, 15th in the West

2018-19 Preview
Last season went exactly how the Suns front office would’ve liked. They were competitive for the first couple of months before fading out and going into full blown tank mode. They finished the 2017-18 season with the worst record in the NBA (21-61).

The silver lining for Suns fans was that they were able to attain the number 1 pick in the draft for the first time in franchise history. They used this pick to select what looks to be a generational talent in Deandre Ayton.

The Suns front office was extremely busy in the off-season as they looked to dump bad contracts while also gaining some veteran leadership in the locker room, which they found in Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson. Ariza has a wealth of playoffs experience that he’ll be able to bring to the Suns to help guide this young roster. Ariza averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and shot 36.8% from beyond-the-arc for the Rockets last season.

It was a pretty successful off-season for the Suns with plenty of gains and not many significant losses to their roster. They were happy to trade the underwhelming top 10 pick from 2016 in Marquese Chriss to the Rockets, along with the delisting of former top 5 pick Alex Len. The one surprise from their front office was the trading away of Brandon Knight, which leaves the squad extremely thin at the point guard position.

Offseason Arrivals: Ryan Anderson (Rockets), Darrell Arthur (Nets), Richaun Holmes (76ers), De’Anthony Melton (Rockets), Trevor Ariza (free agent), Elie Okobo, George King, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton (draft)

Offseason Departures: Marquese Chriss (Rockets), Brandon Knight (Rockets), Jared Dudley (Nets), Alex Len (Hawks), Elfrid Payton (Pelicans), Tyler Ulis, Alan Williams (waived)

What to Expect?
Suns fans would be excited at the prospect of seeing Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton on the same court together. There’s been a bit of hype around them being Shaq and Kobe 2.0, which is a huge wrap for the young duo. However, fans are going to have to wait a bit longer to see them in action together as Devin Booker has just undergone surgery on his hand and is set to miss the opening 2 weeks of the season.

In terms of win/loss, we don’t see this season being a very successful one for the Suns. Yes they added some quality veterans in Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson and yes they have another building block for the future with Deandre Ayton. However, the core of the squad is still extremely young and will need improve a lot, especially on the defensive end, if they’re to start thinking about having a winning season.

The Suns went with interim head coach Jay Triano for the majority of the 2017-18 season after Earl Watson was fired just 3 games into the season. Triano wasn’t offered the full-time position for the 2018-19 season, with their front office appointing Igor Kokoškov as the new head coach. Kokoškov is the first person born and raised outside of North America to become a head coach in the NBA. The exact systems that Kokoškov will implement remains unclear, although he is known for having great offensive sets, which is why the Suns front office favoured him.

Key Player: Devin Booker
A lot of the current and future success of the Suns relies on Devin Booker. Booker was a steal at pick 13 in the 2015 draft and time has already become one of the best scorers in the NBA in his short time in the league. He has upped his stats in every category in each of his 3 seasons in the league and is coming off a 2017 season where he averaged over 24, 4, 4, (points, rebounds, assists) as a 21-year-old, which is a feat that only 3 others in NBA history have achieved (Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Kevin Durant).

Vegas 2018-19 Win Total
The Suns are predicted to improve by 7.5 games on last season’s record, with their 2018-19 over/under being set at 28.5 by Vegas. We feel this is still a touch high when you look at all their competition in the Western Conference, which seems to be getting better every year.

If they were in the East, they’d have a great chance of winning 30 or so games, but in the West we just can’t see it happening, especially with the injury cloud that Devin Booker is under coming into the season. Unders.

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