The Phoenix Suns have a comfortable lead in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes thanks to their bottom three offensive rating (102) and their bottom five defensive rating (114). And yet this should come to no surprise for anyone who has followed the team closely with tempered expectations.
Last season, the Phoenix Suns were dead last in offensive and defensive rating.
Considering the moves that they made this offseason, if you were hopeful that the Suns would suddenly make the jump that the Sacramento Kings have made early this season, you probably had A LOT of optimism that things would break right.
How many factors had to break right in order for that to happen?
For starters, you had to count on Deandre Ayton creating a sizable impact from day one. Hope that the point guard by committee that once included Isaiah Canaan as the starter panned out. See if the additions of veterans Ryan Anderson, Jamal Crawford, and Trevor Ariza were really the key to making a jump.
And also, making sure Devin Booker is healthy.
To be fair, Booker has been relatively healthy aside from a few knocks. Although when he does play for the Suns, there hasn’t been much impact in terms of winning ball games.
This isn’t so much an indictment against him but more so on the team being so surprisingly bad.
Individually on offense, Ayton has been good averaging 15.8 ppg 10.1 rpg, and 2.5 apg. With that said, his defense has been abysmal, which to some degree was to be expected. It is still early but to see rookies like Jaren Jackson Jr and Luka Doncic meaningfully contribute on teams who are in the mix, is not a great look for Ayton and a team who also wanted to be in that position.
Phoenix also went into the season expecting to win games with Isaiah Canaan at starting point guard. After playing in 19 games while starting 15 of them, the team decided to cut bait and instead go with the committee of Elie Okobo, De’Anthony Melton, and Devin Booker.
Many things have been said regarding the team’s floor general situation but to be brief, it felt like the point guard situation was never fully resolved heading into the season which reeks of disorganization and unpreparedness.
The veterans who were supposed to come in and help the team have not exactly done that. And in fact, it seems like one of them in Ariza seems to already be on the way out.
There was optimism that Anderson would come in and help the Suns with his shooting. His current shooting splits are 31/20/78 which aside from FT%, would be the worst of his career. Now he finds himself racking up DNPs.
The Jamal Crawford signing never ideally made sense. He’s not as good anymore, nor is he a good defender, or a point guard. Cuts to younger players had been made to make room for him and the team has not benefited from it.
The bottom line is, due to the moves made in the offseason (of lack thereof) and the season the team is coming off of, it was hard to realistically envision this Suns team being in the mix or at the very least mediocre.
There are still well over 50 games left in the season so maybe a few shakes ups such as acquiring a point guard will turn things around a bit.
Aside from that, this current fate of the team was always going to be the case.