NBA Preview: Suns Must Shake Off Tumultuous Offseason

Phoenix Suns

In many ways, it all turned out well.

Owner Robert Sarver is rightfully in the process of selling the Phoenix Suns. There was also the re-signing of Deandre Ayton after all signs suggested his departure.

But make no mistake: the Suns have spiraled since the Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks decimated them in the second round of the playoffs last season. From blockbuster trade rumors to veteran trade requests, this team has endured plenty. The honeymoon period for the Suns rejuvenated by the presence of Chris Paul has come to an end.

They still have time, but the path is only uphill for them in the coming season.

Make sure to check out all of our other NBA Season Previews.

Offseason Recap

The Suns did not trade for Kevin Durant, much to the chagrin of Brooklyn fans or Mikal Bridges.

Jae Crowder has been vocal about his wish to leave the team, which seems to be in the works as he has been left off the training camp squad.

After the Indiana Pacers’ offer sheet was accepted by Ayton, Phoenix was quick to match and secure the center to their roster. On media day, Ayton seemed ecstatic about his return to the organization, saying, “I was happy. It was all done, I guess.”

The mood within the team reeked of the Sarver debacle and the same will continue to haunt the team for a while.

The disjoint mess of events aside, the Phoenix Suns made some certain moves in the right direction. Sarver selling the team tops the list. On the court, however, the additions of key pieces in Jock Landale and Damion Lee add dynamism and firepower off the bench, something that was non-existent down the stretch last season. They’ll also have players like Dario Saric back from injury. If done right, the Crowder trade could yield more offensive options.

Despite the exhaustive turmoil, the Suns don’t look much different from the powerhouse side that dominated the regular season last year.

The Starting Five

PG – Chris Paul

SG – Devin Booker

SF – Mikal Bridges

PF – Cameron Johnson

C – Deandre Ayton

Cameron Johnson will finally get the starting role. His ability to hit corner shots is crucial. The team lacked offensive cohesion in the playoffs and there is hope that as the season progresses, the Johnson fit will be more sublime.

Yet to make the big leap, Ayton has the opportunity to expand on his offensive prowess. As much as touches in the low block were flagged as an issue, the problem has more to do with the overall offensive scheme that Monty Williams will employ next season.

Whether age lays an even bigger toll for Paul in the coming season has yet to be seen, but there is no questioning what he is capable of especially, with an assembly of scorers.

The key to their success remains Booker. An offensive juggernaut, the playoffs reared a level of one-dimensionality. Perhaps options will help, him being more of a product of the team around him rather than the team being a reflection of his ability.

The biggest question mark lies on Bridges, whose defensive ability is well-documented. It’s his scoring that was a certain letdown considering his ability to be a three-level scorer.

The Bench

The loss of McGee and Crowder will be heavy. Crowder was a plug-and-play forward that was crucial in the Suns’ finals run. McGee provided the offensive explosiveness off the bench. Josh Okogie and Torrey Craig remain important bench options. Payne will continue to bring the unbridled and erratic energy. Lee is a constant perimeter threat. Saric will be a necessary rotational cog. Landry Shamet could potentially rejuvenate his ability to score from the perimeter after his struggles last season. Their bench, though missing some important pieces, is now more well-suited to cover for their deficiencies last season.

Season Outlook

Phoenix’s run to the finals was special. It all clicked. More importantly, the Suns felt fun, something that has been marred in the offseason. Monty Williams has to show his ability to be dynamic and adaptable to situations. Players will rise and fall, but their showings in the last couple of seasons suggest that the team is closer to their ambitions than they think. The development of Devin Booker will highlight the season, but the shrouded mystery around Ayton continues to offer reservations. The Suns need to rid themselves of the stench from the offseason and channel their Cinderella run the season prior to the last.

Record prediction: 56-26

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