I simulated the 2020 NBA season for the Phoenix Suns.

Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Surprisingly, NBA 2K was not consulted for this project! Let’s dig in.

June 2020 for NBA fans is a very interesting time. Games will be played but we are still weeks away, and there is only so much projecting I can do as to what will play out (although in the weeks to come I am sure that I will certainly try). With that in mind, I decided to do something fun and different and simulate the Phoenix Suns 2020 season. Ok, well I presume it is time to head off to NBA 2K20 right? Not exactly.

I decided to go with a game that I enjoy immensely but slips under the radar of most general NBA fans. It is called Basketball GM. Basketball GM is a single-player basketball simulation game that allows you to make trades, set rosters, draft players, and strive to build the next dynasty. It is deep, immersive, constantly improving, and you can go to any season in NBA history all the way back to 1947, with players, teams, rosters, and contracts generated from real data, as well as all draft classes.

Well logically this is Phoenix Suns centric, so what better team to go with then the Suns? I laid out some ground rules for myself. I would keep rosters intact, Deandre Ayton would miss the 25 games that he did in real life from the suspension (the game actually accounts for that) and I would not do any roster configurations. I also would not do any live game simulations; the games would just go through, and that would be that. With those rules in mind, I fired up the game and went to work!

The Phoenix Suns were the only logical team to run this simulation through.

The starting lineup was the basic 2020 Suns configuration. Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker in the backcourt. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Dario Saric at the forward spots, with Aron Baynes in the middle for the first 25 games of the season. I simulated the first month and at the end of it, the Suns were sitting on a record of  11-17 (this season Phoenix ended their first month at 8-7, but stay with me here).

Devin Booker was coming up huge for the Suns, averaging 29.6 points per game (7th in the league) along with 4.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. Ricky Rubio was his steady self, if not a little underwhelming; he was scoring 10 points a game to go with 4.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

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In the frontcourt, Kelly Oubre Jr. averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds, and just under two assists a game, while Saric provided 11 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Ayton was putting up a double-double after his suspension with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and just under four assists a contest. All in all, to be six games under .500, this was still a solid start for Phoenix.

At the all-star break, the Suns stood at  21-28, good for 12th in the western conference. Devin Booker was selected to the all-star game just as he was in real-life, and it was deserved, especially with a line of 28.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. Everyone else had their numbers decline in one category or another with the exception of Saric and Oubre, who saw their stat line remain more or less the same.

I simulated the rest of the season in short order, and the safe result was that the Phoenix Suns did not make the playoffs, finishing with a record of 32-50, despite Devin Booker’s best efforts. I mean, he BALLED OUT.

Booker had a game against the Nets where he dropped 41 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists in a narrow seven-point loss. He followed that up with a 60 point game that included 11 three-pointers in a win over the Hawks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even remotely close enough for the Suns to succeed, as Phoenix went into yet another lottery-bound offseason.

Fortunately, this was only a simulation! The Suns actually have a shot (however small) at the postseason this year, and the team gave a better season-long performance alongside Booker than the simulation did. Although the outcome wasn’t as rosy as I would have preferred, I highly recommend you try this game out! There is a chance that you could succeed where I fell short and guide Phoenix out of the valley and into the promised land.

Next. A moment of reflection on the 2019-2020 Phoenix Suns. dark