Culture of Hoops

2016-17 NBA Preview: Phoenix Suns

Atlantic: Boston Celtics | Brooklyn Nets | New York Knicks | Philadelphia 76ers | Toronto Raptors
Central: Chicago Bulls | Cleveland Cavaliers | Detroit Pistons | Indiana Pacers | Milwaukee Bucks
Southeast: Atlanta Hawks | Charlotte Hornets | Miami Heat | Orlando Magic | Washington Wizards
Pacific: Golden State Warriors | Los Angeles Clippers | Los Angeles Lakers | Phoenix Suns | Sacramento Kings
Northwest: Denver Nuggets | Minnesota Timberwolves | Oklahoma City Thunder | Portland Trail Blazers | Utah Jazz
Southwest: Dallas Mavericks | Houston Rockets | Memphis Grizzlies | New Orleans Pelicans | San Antonio Spurs

Presenting an NBA preview of the Phoenix Suns that looks at the potential highs and lows for this coming 2016-17 NBA season.

What’s Good… Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, two underrated guards, are still in the fold for the Phoenix Suns. Dragan Bender has major potential even if his ability to translate to the NBA will remain an unknown for some time. Devin Booker quietly grew into an extremely quality player towards the end of the 2015-16 season (especially considering his age and lack of talent around him). The Suns also have a talented swingman and versatile player in T.J. Warren who was performing well prior to a season-ending injury.

What’s Bad… Even with my acknowledgement of Bledsoe/Knight and the rise of Booker, there’s no standout star in Phoenix. Tyson Chandler is well past his prime as a center, and Alex Len still feels like a project. Despite his 7-1 height, Len shot 42.3 percent from the field in 2015-16 during 78 games. Marquese Chriss has through the roof talent but might be too young and unreliable to have a rookie year impact. There’s no game breaker on this unit who is simply about that bucket life. Booker could become that individual should his growth continue – it’s just unclear if he’ll make that jump over the course of his sophomore campaign.

The X-Factor… Easily Warren (my lifelong NC State fan status has nothing to do with this selection, I swear.) Did I mention Warren went to NC State? Anyway, Warren is going to become the type of player every team can benefit from. He’s efficient, low maintenance, has multiple methods for scoring, and was playing the best basketball of his young career before a foot injury robbed him of about half a season. That guy who comes off the bench in a playoff game to give you 19 points and solidify his x-factor status, yup, that’s Warren. Of course Phoenix isn’t making the playoffs this year, but the point remains. Warren is an old school soul who should take off somewhat in 2016-17.

Bet On… No playoffs and quite a bit of head scratching. Hey, I’m just being honest! I like a few of the young pieces in place, but sitting here before seeing Bender and Chriss play a regular season NBA game, I can’t fully offer an adaquete scope of the Phoenix Suns. Youth and unknowns don’t typically make for the ideal season. Is this team heading in the right direction? That’s certainly possible. But even when walking in the right direction, one can still encounter his or her share of bumps and forms of adversity. Poetic, I know.

The Crystal Ball Reveals… The Suns were 23-59 in 2015-16, meaning improvement wouldn’t exactly invigorate the fan base. However, I do see the growth of Booker and the added talent through the draft (albeit enigmatic or too-early-to-predict talent) helping Phoenix creep towards the 30-win mark. Heck, I’m feeling generous today, I’ll just place my number at 30-52, a record that places the Suns 13th in the West.

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