Preview: Phoenix Suns (25-56) at Denver Nuggets (56-25)

Time: 5 p.m. MST

TV: FSAZ

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And then there was one.

It’s strange to think that not too long ago regular season finales held tremendous value for the Phoenix Suns. Either there was a high playoff seed or franchise-record win total up for grabs.

Neither will be true this year, but this much is known: Wednesday’s contest against the Denver Nuggets will without question serve as the final chapter in one of the most memorable, yet also forgettable seasons in the organization’s history.

There were coaching changes, players calling out players, players calling out coaches, blowout losses, head-scratching losses, a notable traffic citation and well, everything in between. The history books likely won’t reflect too fondly on the 2012-13 Phoenix Suns, after all this might be the season the franchise officially hit a new low.

How low?

Technically, the Suns have plenty to play for in the Mile High City. Their mindset is still very much on June, but this time around it’s a much later date in the month they’re focused on.  One draft will not instantly remake Phoenix’s roster, but the final night of the regular season could certainly play a role in changing the fortunes of an organization stuck between irrelevancy and futility.

In fact, Wednesday is one of those rare occasions where other outcomes might actually have a greater impact on the Suns’ future than their own against the Nuggets.

Take a look:

Scenario 1: Suns receive Lakers’ lottery pick

  • Utah Jazz beat Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers lose to Houston Rockets

Scenario 2: Suns receive Heat’s No. 30 pick

  • Utah Jazz beat Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston Rockets
  • Utah Jazz lose to Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston Rockets
  • Utah Jazz lose to Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers lost to Houston Rockets

Don’t hold your breath too much on Scenario 1. The Jazz are 14 games below .500 on the road this season, while the Grizzlies are 14 games above .500 at home.

Then of course, there is the race for the third-worst record in the NBA. Now ordinarily the difference between two lottery picks wouldn’t be a huge deal, but the difference between the third-worst and fourth-worst record actually has some significance. The team with the third-worst record has a slightly greater chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, but nearly a 50 percent chance of at least landing in the top three.

Scenario 1: Suns tie for the third-worst record in NBA

  • Phoenix Suns lose to the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers win against the Charlotte Bobcats

Scenario 2: Suns have fourth-worst record in NBA

  • Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers lose to the Charlotte Bobcats
  • Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers lose to the Charlotte Bobcats
  • Phoenix Suns lose to the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers lose to the Charlotte Bobcats

If Scenario 1 occurs, it can get a little bit confusing between the Cavaliers and Suns. Rich Exner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, however, found a way to concisely explain it.

If there is a tie, the Cavs and Suns would essentially split their chances. The team winning a coin flip would get 138 out of 1,000 chances in the lottery and the other team 137 chances.

More importantly, the coin flip would also determine the order should neither team be drawn in the lottery. The lottery drawing determines only the top three picks. Others then are slotted by record for picks four through 14.

Expectations were never sky high going into the year given who had left last summer. In fact during the ValleyoftheSuns’ season preview, not one writer picked the team to make the playoffs.

But, no one knew how bad it would get and certainly it would’ve been hard to predict the level of misery the Suns have endured this season. The finger can ultimately be pointed at management, at the coaching staff (both past and present) or the players themselves. All have failed in some capacity, although some likely more than others.

With that said, it hasn’t been all negative despite what the team’s record and future prospects might indicate. Goran Dragic has matured into a quality starting point guard, P.J. Tucker has emerged from relative obscurity into a role as a serviceable player and Luis Scola has infused leadership and heart into a locker room in desperate need of both moving forward.

In a season full of lowlights, those notable trends will likely get overlooked. And while that is more than understandable, the Suns do have pieces – though not franchise-altering ones – that should be considered as part of the solution not the problem.

For now, it’s one more night of scoreboard watching. Or quite frankly, the first night in what will likely be one of the more intriguing offseasons in franchise history.

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