Hot take? I don’t think so! The Phoenix Suns are one of two teams in the lottery that you can imagine will not be there next season.
With the draft lottery tonight, the Phoenix Suns will be one of 14 teams that will see their selection future in the upcoming NBA Draft. Fellow site expert Adam Stratton wrote a nice breakdown of that here but the bottom line is that one way or another, an additional talented young piece will join the Suns roster that shocked the basketball world in Orlando.
Yet, despite winning eight games in a row, the Suns still finished 34-39, good for 10th in the western conference, and as such will have an opportunity to take someone in the front half of the NBA draft, alongside the other 13 squads. The only difference between the Suns and the other lottery dwellers? They don’t deserve to be here.
The Suns have the benefit of already being a strong team that now has the opportunity of adding additional young talent to the roster.
Let’s get ahead of one other team early. The Golden State Warriors had Stephen Curry for less than 10 games and missed Klay Thompson for the entire season, while also starting a platoon of youngsters and unproven journeymen, so yes, one can assume with a healthy Curry and Thompson alongside Draymond Green, the Warriors will return to relevance. This top-five pick they will acquire is only icing on the proverbial cake.
However, do me a favor and check out the other teams alongside Phoenix. The Minnesota Timberwolves have intriguing talent, but it is more likely they are in this exact spot next season than the playoffs. The Hornets are a middling team that could make the playoffs next season in the weaker east, but their direction is unclear. Ditto for the Pistons. The Hawks are still a season or two away. The Knicks, Kings, Bulls, and Cavs are hopelessly a few more years away than that. New Orleans and San Antonio are the only ones who’s future aren’t easily determined, even if the Pelicans outlook is just naturally brighter.
Compare that to the Suns, who have a bonafide star in Devin Booker, one who lit up the bubble and cemented his name of stars in the association. Deandre Ayton could have avoided that 25 game suspension, but when he played he played well, and he continues to form a great tandem with Booker. Ricky Rubio impressed in his first season with the Suns, while Mikal Bridges showed massive signs of development and Kelly Oubre played well up to his injury. Cam Johnson had a great rookie year, and off the bench, both Cameron Payne and Jevon Carter performed well.
When you take all of that into consideration, one can only assume that the Suns natural development alone will propel them out of the lottery, just on internal improvements alone. The addition of another young piece only further lends credence to the thought that as Suns fans, we may be out of the long playoff drought we’ve endured. It might be a bit more until the promised land, but being stranded in the desert abyss might be a thing of the pass.
We will see.
It all starts tomorrow night.