Every year the NBA has one or two teams that if a bounce or call were to go their way the season would have turned out differently. The Phoenix Suns do not fit that criteria but an asterisk can be placed next to their name for games lost due to injuries. The Suns finished 2015 with a 23-59 record, but there’s that asterisk again. I must give the Suns a pass because we just didn’t know, we have no clue what they would’ve done if only.
The West is focused on the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and the Los Angeles Clippers but what’s the one thing those teams have in common? Health. There were a few bumps and bruises along the way but nothing as major as what the Suns had to deal with. “But that’s an excuse you can give to all losing teams,” no, in the Sun’s case this is true.
What happens if you were to take LeBron James off the Cavs roster for 50 games, or Chris Paul off the Clippers for 30 and then ask a 19- year old rookie to become the leader? It’s simple; you get 23 wins. This is what the Suns had to deal with, with injuries to their top 2 offensive players in, Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe but went 20 games without the defensive ace, Tyson Chandler. I’m not saying they were NBA Finals material, but a push for an 8th seed was not out of the question, but we never will know.
This is a new season, new goals, no health issues and a team committed to making that run. The Suns are built like the old Warriors Run-T.M.C. teams; they get up and down the court as fast as any team in the NBA. Their offensive rankings may say otherwise, but they are a great perimeter team, once again that asterisk has people fooled. 23 wins, that’s good for 2nd worst team in the Conference, but that should happen if you’re missing 19/20/14 and 9 rebounds a game between 4 different guys and are forced to rely on players that would normally get 10-15 minutes per game. That is how you only get 23 wins.
There will be no excuse in 2016; the Suns have three of the most explosive guards in the game with Bledsoe, Knight, and Booker. The frontcourt is just as versatile with veteran leadership from Jared Dudley, Chandler, P.J. Tucker, Chase Budinger and T.J. Warren. They lost shooters, but the Suns have a roster of slashers and players that can create their shot. On the defensive side of the ball, Bledsoe is havoc on opposing guards and Alex Len, and Chandler will take turns controlling the paint.
I will not place the Suns in the race for the top 4 spots in the Conference but to leave them out of the playoff talk altogether would be a mistake. There is a load of talent in the Valley Of the Sun and if teams like the Rockets, Grizzlies or Mavericks are not careful those asterisks from last year could easily be the reason they make it this year.