BoxScore Geeks' 2014 Phoenix Suns Preview

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    5
  • 📉 Pessimist
    44.5 wins
  •  Realist
    52.4 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    60.4 wins
 First Seed
 
9.0%
⋆ Division
 Top 4
👍 Over (43.0)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (43.0)
 
11.5%
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs

The Brief

Last year, we were convinced that the Suns were one of the worst teams in the NBA, and they went on to finish with 48 wins. This year, we're convinced that the Vegas over/under of 49 wins is conservative! Clearly, we can't make up our minds. The suns will be an interesting team to watch; they'll be in the playoff picture, and they have an outside chance at being a contender.

The Story

Last year's preview of the Suns was called "The Tank,", because we were pretty sure that was the Sun's plan. Here's what Dre wrote about them:

In response to the Suns taking the season off from competitive basketball, I'm about to put as much effort into this review as they are into this season.

This was an understandable conclusion. The Suns were just coming off of a 25 win season, and mere days before that preview, they traded their starting center for an injured player who wasn't going to suit up all year. Eric Bledsoe was a neat acquisition, but they had to give up their best wing player to get him, and he overlapped with Goran Dragic. There was simply no way that this team could be any good, right?

And then Jeff Hornacek started pulling rabbits out of hats.

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 48
  •  Expected Wins: 51.6
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: -1.8
Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Goran Dragic 2,668 28 0.224 12.4
P.J. Tucker 2,490 29 0.200 10.4
Gerald Green 2,330 28 0.107 5.2
Channing Frye  2,312 31 0.045 2.2
Markieff Morris 2,153 24 0.098 4.4
Miles Plumlee 1,964 25 0.124 5.1
Marcus Morris 1,800 24 0.127 4.8
Eric Bledsoe 1,416 24 0.159 4.7
Ishmael Smith  1,006 26 0.089 1.9
Archie Goodwin 533 19 0.051 0.6
Leandro Barbosa  368 31 0 0
Alex Len 362 21 -0.056 -0.4
Dionte Christmas  198 27 0.080 0.3
Shavlik Randolph 95 30 0.055 0.1
Viacheslav Kravtsov 59 26 0.005 0

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 51.6 total Wins Produced
  •  4 players leaving
    (3884.0 minutes, 4.4 wins)

Some notes:

  • Miles Plumlee was future franchise center material? Who knew?
  • Marcus and Markieff Morris both injected themselves into Most Improved Player contention, going from terrible to above average? Who saw that coming?
  • Gerald ****ing Green? Are you kidding me!?

The Suns experienced exactly what the Jazz did not: all of their young players took leaps. Dragic got even better; the twins got better; Plumlee broke out, and Green finally left puberty behind him. Phoenix also set up an offense that relied heavily on the three ball, with shooters that shot the ball as if....well, as if they could shoot like Jeff Hornacek.

It all came together in something that was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 52.4
  •  Conference Rank: 4
  • % Playoffs: 81.5
Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Goran Dragic 1.0 2,250.6 29 0.217 10.2
P.J. Tucker 3.0 2,223.4 30 0.193 8.9
Markieff Morris 4.0 2,061.0 25 0.100 4.3
Eric Bledsoe 2.0 1,991.2 25 0.172 7.1
Miles Plumlee 5.0 1,975.0 26 0.109 4.5
Isaiah Thomas  1.0 1,559.0 26 0.145 4.7
Gerald Green 2.0 1,469.8 29 0.110 3.4
Marcus Morris 3.0 1,402.6 26 0.087 2.5
Anthony Tolliver  4.0 1,203.0 30 0.130 3.3
Alex Len 5.0 1,127.2 22 0.055 1.3
Shavlik Randolph 4.0 714.6 31 0.116 1.7
T.J. Warren  3.0 613.8 0 0.012 0.2
Tyler Ennis  1.0 579.9 0 0.078 0.9
Archie Goodwin 2.0 509.0 20 0.062 0.7

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 52.2 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 1.6 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ .8 WP (age/experience)

This season, we'll look for more of the same. Isaiah Thomas and Anthony Tolliver are solid additions, and Tolliver fits the style especially well since he can shoot the 3-ball. The Suns aren't really going to miss Channing Frye; Frye is a great three-point shooter, but isn't very good at much of anything else. When you look at what the Morris twins and Tolliver bring to the PF spot, you can see that you get a much more well-rounded game without sacrificing much shooting.

The thing that Phoenix will have to figure out is its rotation of small guards. I expect we will see lots of lineups with Dragic at the 2 when Thomas is playing. The nice thing about this setup is that it offers a lot of insurance against injuries, which is a big risk factor for this team. By having three highly skilled point guards, two of which can play shooting guard, they will have a lot of lineup flexibility, the ability to try different matchups, and the ability to rest players for precautionary reasons in certain situations.

The Wrap

Vegas has the odds of the Suns winning the Pacific at 12:1. This looks like a very solid bet. The Clippers and Warriors both look like better teams, but the gap is actually not that wide. The Clippers and Warriors are each more vulnerable to injury than the Suns, and it's not a big stretch at all to imagine a breakout year for Plumlee that turns the Pacific into a 3-way dogfight.

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