The Phoenix Suns have made a habit out of outperforming external expectations in recent years.
It won’t take too much to do that again this year.
Apparently the voters in ESPN’s Summer Forecast were not impressed like McKayla with the moves the Suns made after parting ways with Steve Nash as the group of 100 voters ranked the Suns 14th in the West with a 30-52 record that’s only one game better than Sacramento’s West-worst projected mark. Taking into account Monday’s East Forecast, the Suns are predicted to finish tied for fourth-worst with Detroit, with only the Bobcats and Magic below them along with the Kings.
Like #NBARank, the projections follow “wisdom of the crowd” logic whereby it’s thought that by averaging the predictions of the 100 voters we will get a fairly accurate assessment free of biases.
I am a voter in this project and pegged the Suns to finish 34-48, but it’s still a bit startling to see the Suns that low on the aggregate ballot.
That is, until I clicked on the projection from Basketball Prospectus’ Bradford Doolittle’s NBAPET system.
This projection dropped the Suns to the very bottom of the conference with a predicted 27.8 wins that’s 12.5 games worse than “last season’s total of Pythagorean wins per 82 games.” That projection would leave the Suns with more lottery balls than every team that Michael Jordan doesn’t own, and only the Bulls and Magic dropped by more games.
“We’re not exactly sure what the plan is in Phoenix, but the Suns are moving forward with a roster devoid of core players,” Doolittle wrote. “They won’t just be bad. They’ll be boring. We’ll have to see what the future brings.
The TrueHoop Network’s Ethan Sherwood-Strauss is not exactly high on the Suns either:
Suns have 30 wins in
#NBAPicks. My question: Where are the extra 15 wins coming from?
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) August 21, 2012
In preparation for this exercise I asked a few friends who follow the Suns to name a West team they feel will definitely be behind Phoenix in the standings and then watched them struggle to name many squads.
I feel the Suns should be better than the Kings, as they always seem to be a mess despite the nice young talent. I think they will be better than the baby Rockets unless Houston can find a way to roll its assets into a star. I also think it will take the Hornets time for their young roster to gel, so I expect Phoenix to finish ahead of them.
After that, I’m not sure. Especially if Curry can’t get healthy I could see the Suns ahead of Golden State, but on paper I’d definitely take the Warriors’ roster. The young Blazers squad could be behind Phoenix as well, and who knows if this is the year Dallas falls off a cliff.
I could also see the Suns using these depressing rankings as motivational fuel (and there’s plenty of it) and turning it on as the season goes along on the way to an underdog 46-win season. I can also see the bottom falling out on the way to Phoenix actually being the worst team in the West. My projection is somewhere in the middle with so many unknowns along with some solid talent on the Suns’ roster.
Teams often use the “nobody believes in us” cliche to buoy a surprise season regardless of how many people actually believe in them. Based on the wisdom of this crowd, the Suns would have every reason to shout this cliche if they end up enjoying a run to the playoffs.
Telfair first Sun on #NBARank
With P.J. Tucker apparently not making it on the ballot, Sebastian Telfair became the first Sun to have his ranking revealed on #NBARank, the second-year project to rank every player in the NBA.
The group of 104 ESPN-affiliated voters ranked Telfair No. 369, down quite a bit from last year’s No. 322, with a 2.77 score.
It’s no surprise for Telfair to be the lowest-ranked Sun, but I did not expect him to drop that much after his stellar final month. I doubt many voters were watching the Suns at that point, but after a lackluster first three months in Phoenix, Telfair finally showed signs of developing into a quality backup point guard in April.
- This post marks No. 2000 in ValleyoftheSuns history in just less than 46 months. It’s been a fun, fulfilling journey, and we’ve come a long way from that first year when we were essentially a one-man band. Here’s to the next 2000 posts and all the innovations that will come with it!
- Wages of Wins’ Arturo Galletti told me on Twitter that he projects the Suns to be a bottom-five team as well. “You lost your best player. You brought in Beasley. Somewhat self explanatory,” Galletti wrote. Galletti later tweeted that Beasley was “the biggest miss ever” by his draft model, so at age 23 perhaps there is still time for the lightbulb to turn on.