NBA power rankings unsurprisingly down on Suns

NBA preseason power rankings are beginning to leak with teams just days away from opening training camp. The Phoenix Suns will hold a media day Monday before heading to Flagstaff for the week, and unless Ryan McDonough pulls off another trade in the next few days, the roster and the team appear to be set.

The Suns will assuredly struggle this coming season. Just how much is hard to say. Last year, we learned that putting together a mismatch of solid role players doesn’t bode well in terms of success. This season, the roster has less of that winning experience with players like Jared Dudley and Luis Scola gone, but it also has more of an identity.

This isn’t a poor-shooting, unathletic, old-and-young team. It’s pretty young, still not great at shooting but has a more exciting foundation of talent. Jeff Hornacek has the horses to run and play defense, and even if they do the latter poorly, they’ll have an identity. So it’s a tradeoff.

Apparently, that’s not enough for projections to give them any credit, and for a tanking team that’s fine. The Suns are either No. 30 or No. 29 in a number of different projections.

  • CBS Sports’ Matt Moore tabs Phoenix as the 29th-best team in the NBA, behind only the Philadelphia 76ers. “This team is going to be a lot of fun to watch lose by 30 every night,” Moore says.
  • USA Today’s Adi Joseph also lists Phoenix at 29th and with an 18-64 record. It’s hard to imagine the Suns with seven less wins than last season, but I suppose we’re spoiled.
  • Earlier this month, Joseph and Sean Highkin tabbed Phoenix as the 30th most-watchable team. Subjectively, this is easier to disagree with. The Suns will be fast, athletic and fun, we’d hope.

In general, it’s hard for an optimist to see Phoenix winning just 18 games. And if we’re comparing, it’s not outlandish to say the talent level isn’t in worse shape than what a team like the Jazz has — I’d put Utah and Philly behind the Suns in a power ranking. Charlotte, Boston and Orlando could have significant losing columns as well.

Mixtape king

Several current Phoenix Suns have been featured in mixtapes by a YouTube user named Patrys15, and he discussed his affinity for making mixtapes in a fun feature by SB Nation’s Rodger Sherman.

Among the Phoenix players featured in his mixtapes are P.J. Tucker, Marcin Gortat and former Sun Garret Siler. All are well done, but to me, Tucker’s is the most interesting. I know a highlight mix is only that, but what he did to frustrate some very good players like Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Rudy Gay was impressive, and Patrys captures that in his cut-ups.

  • Foreveris2long

    I agree with the experts that we are a 20 win team but I am perfectly fine with that. However Kev I think we may very well be the most exciting 20 win team in the league.

  • Ty-Sun

    I just cannot believe that the Suns will only win 18 games this season.

  • BCrayZ

    Eric will want wins.

    When he sees stuff like this, he will tune this year out in his mind.

    Next year to some other team is where his mind will fast forward to. Gogi will be frustrated. When we lose Eric, Dud will have been sent away for zero. Gogi will have to adjust to playing with Eric. Next year, he will have to adjust to playing with someone else. Suns will continue to step down. Jeff will lose his job but Babby will be all smiles.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • Scott

    ^^ I don’t think it will go like that. Even without Hornacek pushing, a lot of guys on the team are going to play with incentive and play hard.

    Bledsoe must realize he’s auditioning for all the other teams, and not just the Suns. This could be the biggest contract year of his entire career. If he wants another team to make room for him and pay him, he’s got to play his butt off. He’s got to show he can score and make assists.

    The worst scenario for him is one where either nobody places a bid on him, or the bids are low. No doubt his agent has been in his ear about this all summer.

    Dragic already knows he’s in for another losing season. But this time he has someone to share the ball with: Bledsoe. If he and Bledsoe develop any rapport – and they will have mutual desire to do so – Dragic will probably be much happier than last year if he can just have that.

    (Keep in mind that Dragic has typically had a combo guard in the back court with him. It’s either been Barbosa, Courtney Lee, or – on his national team – brother Zoran. He’s only had 2 seasons where he was a PG alone on an island: last season, and the season the Suns traded him.)

    Bledsoe and Dragic will surely appreciate Goodwin and Len. The two rookies are going to try to bring it. They won’t do everything right, but they both aspire to be the best pick from their class, and both are reasonably skilled.

    Plumlee is also going to bring it, as will Tucker, because that’s their nature. Probably Christmas too, if he makes the team.

    Gortat will try mightily to keep his mouth zipped and his head in the game, because he’ll want to act professional while auditioning for his next team.

    Frye may not get onto the court till late in the season.

    So if there is going to be a whiner or slacker, it would be someone among the remaining players: Green, Brown, Marshall, Markieff, Marcus, and maybe Kravtsov.

    But with the exception of Green, all of those guys are also under pressure to perform this season.

  • Greg

    Going to be a long season with teams like the heat steam rolling us by 30

  • Scott

    ^^ If a team has interesting players at the end of the bench, garbage time doesn’t have to be boring.

    BTW, here’s an interesting (and very short) video of Giannis Antetokounmpo jogging lightly to the basket and dunking … with barely any jump.

    Those are some long arms!

    If he and Henson and Sanders ever get entangled, it could take a while to get them separated.

  • Ty-Sun

    This team is going to be a lot younger and more athletic than last year’s team. They all have reasons to play their best whether they want to be in Phoenix or not. These guys are all professional athletes. They don’t sulk and stop trying just because things aren’t going the way they want them too. Yeah, there are a few that might be that way but not most.

  • Luka

    I think 15 wins sounds about right for this team. Dragic and Bledsoe may win us a few games but I’m expecting a tank season.

    I’d be more optimistic if the Morris twins could actually develop a post game and start rebounding, but that doesn’t seem likely.

    I also don’t count on Frye being in the Suns’ plans moving forward. My impression is they want to try and find a medical reason to void his contract, otherwise they’d have cleared him by now.

    Realistically were about another two years away. The Suns will have plenty of draft picks to reload the roster, and just enough cap space to re-build the bench.

    Anyone think the Suns should try and flip Gortat, Markieff, and a late first rounder for Asik?

  • Ty-Sun

    Of course Frye isn’t in the Suns’ future plans but, because of his medical issues, he’s untradable and probably will be on the Suns’ payroll until his contract runs out. If there was any way to void his contract I’m sure they would have already done it.

    I doubt that they Suns are bad enough to only win 15 games. They have less experience but I think more raw talent than last season’s team. I think they will win around 25.

    If I was a Rockets fan, I would jump at a trade that would bring back even a late first round pick for Asik. As a Suns fan I don’t think it makes any sense. If we are going to trade away Gortat we don’t want to bring in another 5 because we’re counting on Len as our future center. We want to bring in a 3 or 4 with some potential instead. I know that some people don’t think that Len is a good bet as our future center but obviously the FO does have confidence in him or they wouldn’t have drafted him. Right or wrong, they are NOT going to trade Gortat for another center unless they get back a lot more than they give up.

  • Scott

    I think Luka is probably referring to medical retirement for Frye, where insurance cashes him out. That may or may not happen, and I’m not too worried about it. The Suns need to acquire more talent and Frye’s contract is not really holding them back.

    I agree that the Suns are probably about 2 years away from a return to being a western power.

    Year One: Len and Goodwin get experience while the Suns draft three first round picks (Wiggins? Exum? Parker?).

    Year Two: Len and Goodwin plus the 3 picks get experience, and the Suns draft another two first rounders.

    Hopefully the Suns will also manage to swing another trade for young talent. There’s the possibility of about 1-3 trades, if both sides come together.

    And hopefully Marshall and the Morrises discover new life while playing in Hornacek’s system. This would increase their value to the Suns and their trade value.

  • dave:f32

    17 wins for next year, and 5 yrs before they are relevant in the WC

  • Azbballfan

    Bledsoe will be a sun for more than one season, unless the Suns opt to not match an offer he gets as a RFA

    he only becomes a RFA if he doesnt sign an extension this season

    in the big picture it hardly matters if we win 18 games or 15 or 23

    we really need to nail the next 2 drafts and change the Suns culture from a run and gun no defense system that wont win anything in the playoffs

    to a team that will run, but also play very good D

    i expect McD to orchestrate another trade here before the season starts and ship off a few players

    someone is going to want a contract they can dump

    and save $$$$

    Yeah the team will be bad, but who cares

    The Suns need these two drafts and the top teams in the NBA dont

    Go Suns