This summer, the Phoenix Suns will have an opportunity to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Phoenix, who struggled without support for Booker, finally has starting center and former number one pick Deandre Ayton back from a suspension. Ayton served a 25-game suspension in the beginning of the season due to a violation of the NBA’s substance policy and returned to the struggling team just in time to help them rebound. With Ayton and Booker reunited, the team was able to revive their playoff hopes.
Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen global pandemic, their comeback was put on hold for four months. The Suns have a very tough road to reach the playoffs, but they could realize a Cinderella-like comeback story in the bubble.
July 31st vs. Washington Wizards: Loss
Recent reports have announced that Bradley Beal will not play in Orlando due to a lingering shoulder injury. With Beal out of the picture, the Suns could use this game as a means of starting their long journey to reach the playoffs.
This will still be a close game, even with the Wizards missing three of their best players. Shooters will struggle due to the four-month hiatus, which will result in a tough loss for Booker and his teammates.
August 2nd vs. Dallas Mavericks: Loss
Though Booker is a top 10 scorer in the league and has one of the better shooting strokes fans have ever seen, his defense leaves a lot to be desired. He’s not a terrible defender, but he’s also not someone a coach would want to guard Luka Doncic. Doncic should torch Booker offensively, and Booker will likely break him down on offense as well. The defense will be lacking between these two, but both will offer a terrific scoring spectacle.
August 4th vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Loss
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are a top three dynamic duo in the league. Both are excellent defenders, and each have won or came close to winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Booker will have a hard time getting an open shot, and he’ll need to rely on Ayton to carry the Suns in this game.
August 6th vs. Indiana Pacers: Loss
This game will eliminate the Suns from postseason contention. The team entered the bubble 5.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, and they could be 8.5 games back after this loss. Do not be surprised if Booker starts to show frustration on the court while dealing with another losing season.
August 8th vs. Miami Heat: Loss
When a basketball player starts to show anger and frustration, they cause problems for the rest of their team. They could start throwing up bad shots and hogging the ball rather than focusing on the team as a whole. If Booker starts to do this, the Suns will have a difficult time this offseason. This game could also result in Ayton gaining more control over the team if he’s able to remain level-headed.
August 10th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Win
This will be a morale-boosting win because it will prevent the Suns from going winless in the bubble. Players such as Kelly Oubre and Dario Saric will play major roles in this game, and the Suns’ role players will be the deciding factor in the team’s final games.
August 11th vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Loss
The 76ers are one of the tallest and most physical teams in the NBA. Their point guard is a 6-foot-11 super-athlete, so the chances of an average-sized point guard winning that matchup is slim. At the same time, Aron Baynes is a great interior defender and hustle player who will give Joel Embiid a tough time in the paint. But even with that effort, the Suns will still lose this game to a Philadelphia squad with a more talented roster.
August 13th vs. Dallas Mavericks: Win
In this game, the Mavericks will probably rest their best players. Dallas has already clinched a playoff spot, so it would be ridiculous to risk the health of stars like Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
The Suns will finish their 2019-2020 season with a 2-6 record, giving them a ticket back to the draft lottery. Though this season may have been another bust, they will have a chance to draft another young player to complement Booker and Ayton moving forward. Phoenix may be able to compete for a playoff spot within the next few years of the Booker era.