As much as we can whine about the Suns having a weak roster, the lack of an additional scorer won’t be the main problem for this team.
The schedule will.
I don’t know if the NBA is mean, or just wants to make sure the strong teams win more games, but the Suns got the worst possible schedule. How do I know? Paul Coro from AZCentral.com obtained it, and posted all the Suns games on his blog in the website. A few notes from me here.
- The Suns don’t play their entire division 4 times. That distinction goes only to the two LA teams. Still don’t understand the absurdity of all this.
- The Suns have 17 back-to-backs and two back-to-back-to-backs. Luckily the two sets of those are absolutely winnable. One is Golden State, Denver and Atlanta, and the other is Utah, LA Clippers and Detroit. If the Suns can blow at least one of the two early games in either series out, it won’t be that terrible.
- The 17 back-to-backs might look terrible, but the Suns have the best training staff in the league. If anyone can live through stuff like that, it’s Phoenix.
The two values on the right are calculations, and not actual Winning percentages. Just throwing it out there. Put it in, so you can clearly see my method.
Either way, the aim for the NBA should be to help the weaker teams by making their schedule easier. However this one is not easy by any means. An 0.514 winning percentage per game is over average. That’s not the biggest problem though, as the Suns are getting the biggest fishes from the East away. Miami? Away. New York? Away. Boston? Away. Orlando? Away. Chicago? You guessed it right. Away. The best team the Suns will be playing at home against is Atlanta. Don’t you kind of wish it wasn’t the other way around? I sure do.
The thing is that home court advantage isn’t really needed against teams like Washington or Toronto, and the at-home average is really what you’d want an Away average to look like. Additionally, the fact that the weaker Pacific division teams (Sac-town, Golden State) are getting a break from Phoenix in favour of strong Texan teams really annoys me.
NBA might’ve just killed a bit of optimism, however made up for it a bit by avoiding long road trips for the Suns. The longest trip is 5 games and comes in January. The only issue? It’s a road trip where the Suns can easily go 0-5. San Antonio, Chicago, New York, Boston and Dallas are no pushovers, and the Suns will have to give every ounce of energy to make these games (perhaps except for the Knicks) close, let alone win them.
With more schedules coming, I will be using my formula to calculate the WP per game of other teams in the League and see whether the Suns are treated unfairly by the league, because as of now… I kind of feel like they are.
To conclude, can the Suns reach the postseason with this schedule? Yes. Will it be as easy as it would be with the original schedule? No. No way in hell. Does the NBA make it easier for strong teams? Sure seems so.
Want to calculate another teams average winning percentage? Here’s a spreadsheet for ya!