NBA Power Rankings #24: Phoenix Suns
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The Phoenix Suns finished last season at the very bottom of the NBA with a 21-61 record. They've been one of the leagues youngest teams for the past few season and it's show in the win-loss department during that span. But finally, the Suns lucked out and actually got the top pick in the draft. Phoenix had a no-brainer with the selection of Deandre Ayton at number one and traded for Mikal Bridges to give themselves two players who are ready to impact on opening night.
Some are saying that Ayton will come out of the gates averaging 20 PPG and 10 RPG, but let's pump the breaks. Those are very hard numbers to come by even in the modern NBA style that lacks great big men. Last season, only six players were able to have at least 20 PPG and 10 RPG (Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetonkoumpo, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid, and Karl Anthony-Towns). Ayton is good and we'll see those numbers eventually, but a reality check is going to come for those thinking he'll join that group in his rookie year. A more realistic stat-line that you can see from him will be around 16 PPG and 8 RPG. It's certainly possible that he proves me wrong. The lack of other options for the Suns, the hand injury to Devin Booker that may keep him sidelined to start the season, and already having an NBA ready body could lead to one of the better rookie years in recent memory.
However, the individual success for Deandre Ayton may not correlate directly to wins. Devin Booker has been putting up All-NBA Team type numbers the past two seasons, but a miserable Phoenix Suns team has kept him from seeing many wins. This combo of Ayton and Booker could very well be Shaq and Kobe 2.0 as advertised, but that's best case scenario. There's a whole lot of time to get that point, and a whole lot of ways it can get derailed.
The addition of Trevor Ariza and the new young faces will help Phoenix have hope for the first time in a long time, but the Suns will still be on the outside looking in to the playoffs. The could flirt with a 30-35 win season, but the health of Devin Booker and the development of their young core is what's most important for them this season