A holiday tradition, let us look at the 12 Days of Christmas for the Phoenix Suns, 12 things that we wish or are thankful for this team as we lead up to Christmas.
Yes, the 12 Days of Christmas actually start on Christmas Day and do not end on December 25, however, James Jones has put together a much more competitive team than the franchise has had for several years, and so Phoenix Suns fans not only have a lot to be thankful for, but still plenty of things that the team can gift fans with.
For the First Day of Christmas, the Phoenix Suns will gift to us: Deandre Ayton‘s return.
This team is seven games better this season than they were last year through 24 games, and their former first-overall pick has only appeared in one.
The Return of Deandre Ayton is going to be huge for this team.
While Ayton may not be a star-scorer (yet, we hope), he has at least been a very efficient scorer thus far in his career from the low post and can help end more possessions with a made bucket than not. When he returns, he will provide the team’s only true scorer, Devin Booker, with some desperately needed offensive help.
His defense too will come as a great help, if nothing else than for his rebounding.
Phoenix does not have a double-digit rebounder as of now, and are in fact 27th in the league in that category. Individually, aside from Ayton in his one game, only Cheick Diallo averages double-digit rebounding per-36 minutes (10.8).
The Suns also do not have a solid rim protector at the moment either, with no player even averaging more than 1.0 per-36 minutes.
Analytically Ayton’s presence on this team for the last 25 games would have been helpful, potentially to even the tune of two additional wins.
His rookie season, Ayton’s Win Share ended at 5.8, which, through 25 games this season, would be about exactly 2.0 thus far. While the eye test alone would lead many Suns fans to believe that his presence would have potentially helped to win what ended up being close losses to the Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies, and even the San Antonio Spurs, it is impossible to say how every game would have turned out with Ayton on the roster.
Thus saying that they could have won those games, they too may have lost others.
But to have potentially even flipped two of those losses, currently puts the Suns at 13-12 on the year, solidly in the Western Conference playoff picture.
The Phoenix Suns have a legitimate shot at being a playoff team this year if they can stay healthy and add one more major piece.
However, the re-addition of Deandre Ayton is the first gift the team will offer Phoenix Suns fans on this first day of Christmas.