The Phoenix Suns make their regular season debut on Wednesday night, hosting the Golden state Warriors. The team is a true mystery. Many predict them to be among the worst teams in the league, but they also have the young, athletic potential to be a decent playoff team if everything falls into place.
Since everyone is in the mood for predictions, we here SB Nation Arizona chime in and give you our thoughts. Here is what we are saying.
30-52, 13th in Western Conference
During the 2012-13 season, I think Michael Beasley will be the key to this team's success. I see him both shining and slumping, to be honest. On some nights, he will put up huge points, probably breaking the 30 barrier more than a few times. On others, he will be lackadaisical and won't get his mind into the game, which will cause the Suns to suffer because of that. I also think Marcin Gortat struggles a bit more this year because of the departure of Steve Nash. Without his pick and roll partner, Gortat will not have nearly the same impact on the offensive end.
I don't believe they will make the playoffs because they do not have the talent to do so. While I love Jared Dudley, any time he is a starter for your team, you know you are going to struggle. That is a huge indicator to me of this team headed for a bad season. Luckily, that means they should be able to secure a decent draft pick for next summer.
I think Dragic will average somewhere around 7-8 assists per night, regaining a bit of the form that he had with Houston going down the stretch of the season last year. Gortat will probably average around 10 boards and could be another double-double machine, but I think he will struggle to score, as I noted earlier. Luis Scola will also take away a few of his rebounds, probably pulling down 6-7 per game. I think Beasley will average 18 points per game as the lead scorer for this team, but I unfortunately do not believe that will be enough.
Final season record: 28-54 12th in the Western Conference
There are a lot of questions marks surrounding this Suns team. How good is Goran Dragic? Which Michael Beasley are the Suns getting? How much will Gortat's production decline without Steve Nash? These questions will determine how good the Suns are. If Dragic keeps playing like he did the second half of last season, and Michael Beasley can play like he did in the preseason then maybe Phoenix can compete for a playoff spot. I do not think these things will happen. I think Gortat's numbers will decline and I think Phoenix will have a hard time scoring points this season.
Final season record: 40-42, 12th in Western Conference
The thing about the Suns is that they simply brought in too much talent to be a bad team. Adding Luis Scola and Michael Beasley will be the difference in this team winning 35-40 games instead of 25-30 games. Sure, they have a lot of question marks and "What If's" scenario's that need to be answered in a positive way for the season to swing their way, a lot. The way the Western Conference is shaking out is that the Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Clippers are locks to make the playoffs sans injuries. For the Suns to make the big dance as a seven or eight seed they need more than a few teams to underperform including the Mavericks, Timberwolves, Jazz, and Warriors.
Far too many things have to fall the Suns way for them to make the playoffs this year, which rarely happens in sports, but the chips are on the table to be a very good team on a nightly basis. They should be interesting and exciting to watch.
1. Goran Dragic Statline: 16.5 PPG 7.5 APG 1.5 SPG
2. Michael Beasley Statline: 17 PPG 2.5 APG 6.0 RPG
3. Marcin Gortat Statline: 14 PPG 8.0 RPG 1.5 BPG
4. Markieff Morris Statline: 13.0 PPG 6.5 RPG
5. Kendall Marshall: 40+ DNP Coaches Decision
Final season record: 43-39, seventh in Western Conference
When I see the Suns' roster, it is a mystery. If everything falls into place, they could be a very good team because of the athletic talent they have. They could also be a disaster and be one of the worst teams in the league. I think Goran Dragic has grown enough that he will thrive and Michael Beasley will be a little inconsistent, but very good. You know what you get from Jared Dudley and Luis Scola. Marcin Gortat will be good, but not quite as good as last season, but it won't be so much because Steve Nash left. It will be because of the production from other players.
They will sneak into the playoffs and win a couple of games, and the season will be viewed as a raging success in this first year of transition.