Phoenix Suns face a perilous, lose-lose situation across 2022-23 regular season

Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

In any sporting landscape, reputations are built or demolished when the stakes are at its highest. Unfortunately for the Phoenix Suns and their key personnel, public approval rating was torn down in the wake of their disastrous playoff exit.

It was the kind of catastrophic moment that takes time to come back from, for fans and analysts to regain faith in the team’s championship credentials. As such, it’ll be difficult for Phoenix to procure any meaningful optimism regardless of regular season performances across 2022-23.

The Phoenix Suns, more than any other team, will face ongoing reputational fallout owing to their 2022 playoff defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Suns have all of a sudden built this reputation as a ‘regular season team’. That’s a fairly short-sighted position given they were in the NBA Finals less than 14 months ago. Yet, that’s the nature of a fast-paced sporting environment, particularly when we’re discussing the NBA.

Phoenix were an all-conquering juggernaut in 2021-22, finishing with a 64-18 record and eight games above their closest rival. It was this blistering season that built the expectation of a title favourite, before it all came crumbling down in a calamitous ending.

Luka Doncic and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Suns will head into next season in a perilous, lose-lose situation when it comes to their reputation and the media narrative. If they repeat their heroics of last season and top the Western Conference, there’ll be a deafening chorus of, “this is what they do…they’re a regular season team…I don’t trust them come playoff time”.

This is a fairly common stance for people to take on teams. Most recently, it’s a label the Utah Jazz have had to battle with. The Jazz had six seasons in a row finishing with a 0.585 or higher win-rate, always placing themselves in a good position to attack the postseason.

However, those fantastic regular seasons amounted to very little – Utah never even made the Conference Finals in this period. They themselves were to blame for their reputation as a regular season team, eventually leading to a blowup of the franchise this offseason.

So too are the Suns to blame, atleast to an extent. Look beyond the Mavericks series though and this is a team, once again, that made the Finals last year. That’s far beyond anything that Utah had achieved in a far greater span.

Then, of course, there’s the other side of the equation. Anything below reasonable expectation (say a 50-55 win team) and people will begin to focus on the 2022 playoff exit, arguing that its transferred onto the following season and had a far more reaching impact than otherwise thought.

Next. Phoenix Suns month-by-month win-loss predictions – October/November. dark

Is it fair? Not really. Phoenix’s playoff run in 2021, where they swept through the conference with relative ease, should retain some equity. But you just know that’s not how it works, that their 2022-23 regular season will be compiled with question marks on their playoff credentials, and/or the lasting impacts of their game seven defeat to the Mavericks.