The Phoenix Suns will enter the 2023-24 season as one of the favorites to win a championship. Although we have them pegged to go 54-28, there are others out there who think the organization will do even better than that.
On the other hand, former players such as Charles Barkley don’t even think the Suns deserve to be classed as legitimate contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy. A strange position to take given that this roster boasts Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Deandre Ayton.
Lost in amongst all of the chatter here, is the fact the Suns will be battling in a ridiculously competitive Pacific Division to earn crucial wins.
Think what you will of the NBA’s in-season tournament, where some of these games against their Pacific foes will count towards the tournament itself, but actually winning more of these games than they lose should still be the goal for regular season positioning.
Last year the Suns went 45-37, and in finishing second to the Sacramento Kings in the division, faced the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals. They would lose in six games. So the importance of coming out on top over the Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Clippers and Golden State Warriors is imperative. Here is the key advantage they have over each opponent.
Sacramento Kings – Star Power
The Kings made it back to the postseason for the first time in forever last year, and also won the Pacific Division with a record of 48-34. They came unstuck in the playoffs though, losing in seven games as the third seed to the sixth seeded Warriors.
The Kings led the league in offensive rating (118.6, the best number in the history of the league…) and they boast a fabulous duo in De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. That Warriors loss is they key though, as the Kings didn’t go out and significantly strengthen their roster this offseason.
Certainly they could have only dreamed of adding a player of Beal’s quality, and so the Suns will have the advantage of star power over the Kings in the Pacific Division. It doesn’t matter how good Sabonis or Fox are for stretches of the season. They’re simply not as dynamic a duo as Booker and Durant are.
Add Beal into the mix, and it is a wrap folks. This is a star driven league, and as result there are about 15 guys (and we’re being generous with that number) who are true difference-makers. You need at least one of them to be in contention. The Suns boast two, while the Kings currently don’t have any.