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NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Suns: Phoenix Rising?

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker #1 makes a pass against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker #1 makes a pass against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
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Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker #1 makes a pass against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker #1 makes a pass against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker #1 makes a pass against the Sacramento Kings during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Phoenix Suns seek to rise from the ashes with a mixture of youth and vets.

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents. Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profile:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview now looks at a team loaded with youthful talent the Phoenix Suns.

 NBA 2015-16 Team Preview: Phoenix Suns

2015-16 Record: 23 – 59

Playoffs:

Missed playoffs finished 14th in  Western Conference

Dec 18, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (10) is guarded by Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns won 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Points Per Game: 100.9 (22nd )

Opponent Points Per Game:  107.5 (28th)

Pace: 98.5 (3rd )

Offensive Rank: 102.2 (28th )

Defensive Rank:  109.0 (25th)

Three Point Rank:  34.8% (18th)

Rebounds: 44.8  (7th)

Assists: 20.7 (24th)

Steals: 7.7 (17th)

Blocks: 3.8 (28th)

Turnovers: 17.2 (30th)

Next: Future postioning - draft, free agents

Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) defends Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Kings defeated the Suns 113-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted:

  • Alex Len
  • Alan Williams
  • Derrick Jones Jr.

Unrestricted:

Dec 6, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball during the first quarter as Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

  • P.J. Tucker

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2018 first round draft pick from Miami
  • 2021 first round draft pick from Miami

Outgoing:

  • None (one of only four teams with no out going picks)

Average Age of Team: 25 years

Next: Off Season Moves

Oct 5, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa (19) handles the ball in the first half of the game against the Utah Jazz at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: Dragan Bender (4), Marquese Chriss (8)

Round 2: Tyler Ulis (34)

2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

Unrestricted:

  • Chase Budinger
  • Cory Jefferson
  • Jon Leuer
  • Phil Pressey
  • Ronnie Price
  • Mirza Teltovic

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting:

Re-upping:

Unresolved: none

Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

Oct 3, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss (0) drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Kyle Anderson (1) during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 26.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 3rd  with 4.65 extra losses

The Suns don’t get to play themselves and meet the Nets and Sixers only four times in total — plus they share a division with the Warriors, Clippers and Blazers. Luckily, eight of Phoenix’s 14 back-to-backs are at home.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Wednesday December 21st at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix AZ at 9PM EST
  • Monday December 26th in Houston at Toyota Center at 8PM EST
  • Saturday February 11th in Houston at Toyota Center at 8PM EST
  • Sunday April 2nd, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix AZ at 9PM EST

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 19th

Benching Knight means fewer botched alley-oops between Knight and Tyson Chandler, and less of Chandler pouting the facial equivalent of, “Why in the hell did I sign here, again?” That hurts the unintentional comedy score.

On the bright side, the Devon Booker/T.J. Warren starting duo brings a nice new-school/old-school vibe, and dunkin’ Jared Dudley always makes the smart play

Next: Team Overview

Oct 14, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (L) talks with Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (R) on the bench during in the second half of the game at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Committed Salary

2016: $84,677,966 – 24th ranked

2017: $68,960,409– 20th ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard:   Eric Bledsoe – 20.4 points,  6.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds

Shooting Guard:  –  Devin Booker – 13.8 points,  2.6 assists,2.5 rebounds

Small Forward:   P.J. Tucker – 8.0 points,  2.2 assists,  6.2 rebounds

Power Forward:  Jared Dudley – 7.9 points, 2.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds

Center:  –    Tyson Chandler | 7.2points  , 1.0 apg 8.7 rebounds

Reserves:

Guards: Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa, Tyler Ulis

Wings: TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss, John Jenkins, Derrick Jones Jr.

Bigs: Dragan Bender,  Alan Williams, Alex Len

Injury News:

  • PJ Tucker – back says he hopes to be ready for season opener

All injury news as per rotoworld

Next: Strengths, Weaknesses, Prediction

Oct 7, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson yells to his team in a preseason game against Portland Trail Blazers in the first half at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

Backcourt: Eric Bledsoe returns healthy paired with shooting guard Devin Booker which could vault them into Best Backcourt Duo conversations. I’ve earmarked Booker as a potential Most Improved candidate. Observing  him last season he improved noticeably each month. I likened him to Klay Thompson with his pure stroke. But where he was ahead of Thompson was his ability to drive this early in his career.   Incidentally Trevor Booker is Devin’s brother and is his cousin. is Jordan Hill.

Future is Bright: Phoenix is endeavoring to do what the Toronto Raptors have done in the East. What the Raptors have done is utilize their core vets while nurturing and growing their youngsters. Both teams rank in the bottom bottom 4 of youngest teams in the league.

Entering draft night pundits couldn’t decide if the Suns would go for Bender or Chriss, so when they got both it felt like they pulled off the move of the night.

Assets: Another area where the Suns and Raptors share commonality is they own all their foreseeable draft picks.  The other 2 teams who join them in this area are the Magic and Jazz. Phoenix is  stocked full of assets especially after conning Vlade Divac into giving up Marquese Chriss in the draft.

Weaknesses:

Front court: Sure the Suns drafted two quality products in Chriss and Bender, so the future is solid, but for this season there are real depth issues up front. Tyson Chandler appears on the downside of his career. Further there aren’t any bigs who’ve shown a propensity to step into the role of long term core pieces outside the rookies. That said, it would be great to see Alan Williams a perennial Vegas stand out find his niche with the Suns.

History of how  management has handled players: In the past few seasons it’s been a revolving door for Suns guards. Goran Dragic had an award setting season and then was promptly traded because he was unhappy the Suns  brought in Isaiah Thomas and with how the management  dealt with him.  Then the Suns also traded Thomas. Bledsoe is the lone remaining piece of what was arguably the deepest backcourt in the NBA.

Cut to present and the ascent of Booker has relegated Knight to the bench. This doesn’t sit well with Knight who feels he is a starter.  Truth is Knight is best suited for a sixth man role, but his dissatisfaction could lead to yet another trade.

Identity Crisis:  Ask yourself what the Suns identity is and you probably come up empty. They’ve been a team who runs and guns, 2 seasons ago they were tough nosed and now they have a bunch of finesse players and specialists with copious assets.  Earl Watson was a scrappy point guard in his day, so it stands to reason he’ll try to instill that quality with this squad.

More from Space City Scoop

Prediction:

Best Case: with the addition of Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley to the core the team could surprise anyone not expecting much from them. The trick will be integrating the youngsters and developing them while also garnering wins. At best they win enough to stay in the mix for the 8 seed.

Worst Case: The future is so bright for the Suns even if they miss the playoffs (as expected) it won’t deter their future. What could is if management get impatient and make knee jerk trades to add pieces who’ll mess with the continuity of the team. Still, with so many assets Phoenix need to make smart moves to either add a star or depth. The trick will be doing so without sacrificing their vision.

FanSided Affiliate Site: Valley Of The Suns

Next: Timberwolves Team Preview

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Make sure to check out our entire NBA preview series.

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