The Phoenix Suns are among the teams that have invited to the NBA’s bubble in Orlando. Phoenix is the lowest-ranked team from the Western Conference that will play in the restart and their 26-39 record is second-worst among the 22 teams with only the Washington Wizards having a worse record than them.
The Suns are led by young superstar Devin Booker who has emerged as one of the best scorers in the league. Phoenix also has a quality big man in former #1 pick DeAndre Ayton but the team will be heading to Florida minus their second-leading scorer Kelly Oubre Jr. who is out with a torn meniscus.
Phoenix Suns Season Summary
The Phoenix Suns enter the restart as the lowest team from the Western Conference invited to Orlando. The Suns were 13th in the Western Conference with a record of 26-39. Phoenix is six games off the Memphis Grizzlies who currently hold the 8th seed in the West with their record of 32-33. Phoenix was 4-6 in their last 10 games heading to the suspension of the season.
The Suns got a bad break early after former #1 pick DeAndre Ayton was suspended for 25 games after violating the league’s Drug Policy by testing positive for a banned diuretic. Without Ayton, first-year head coach Monty Williams struggled to steer the Suns, and even when Ayton came back, Phoenix was a sub .500 team. Despite their struggles, Phoenix found life in superstar guard Devin Booker and big man Aron Baynes who provided them the firepower in Ayton’s absence.
Baynes had an impressive first year in Phoenix. The Aussie big man doubled his 2019 season scoring average with the Suns as he put up 11.5 points per game while also posting career-highs in rebounding and assists. Baynes also made a career-best 1.4 three-pointers per game this season while hitting 35.1% of his three balls. He will be a big factor if the Suns are to make a run at the playoffs in the restart.
Also key for the Suns is Kelly Oubre Jr. who was picked up from the Washington Wizards last season. Oubre got signed to a two-year deal during the offseason and the swingman put up impressive numbers for Phoenix. He played in a total of 56 games while averaging 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Oubre was also shooting efficiently this season, especially from behind the arc as he made 45% of his three-pointers.
However, Oubre hasn’t played since February after suffering a torn meniscus and was declared out for the season. Although the Suns have not officially ruled out Oubre in Orlando, he isn’t expected to play in the restart, leaving a huge gap in the Phoenix Suns’ offense.
Other than Oubre, the Suns aren’t missing anybody. The long pause in action should’ve given Booker, Ayton, and Baynes more than enough time to recover as these three were banged up during the season. However, it remains to be seen what Phoenix’s strategy will be regarding its stars. The team is a far six games off the playoff pace with only eight games to play during the seeding period.
Odds and Outlook
Because of their current predicament, the Suns are tied with the Kings with the worst odds to win the Western Conference at +50000. Phoenix is also tied with the Washington Wizards for the worst odds to win the 2020 NBA title at +75000. They are, however, a -4.5 favorite at Betonline, to beat the Wizards in their opening match on July 31st.
After the Wizards, the Suns will play the Dallas Mavericks on August 2. Two days later, they face their toughest test of the restart when they meet the L.A. Clippers. On August 6th, Phoenix faces the Indiana Pacers while the Miami Heat is on deck on August 8. The Suns face the Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers in back to back games on August 10 and 11. Phoenix then closes out its schedule with a second date with the Mavericks on August 13th.
When you look at their schedule, it’s not a tough one considering they don’t have games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Denver Nuggets. However, because they are six games off the playoff pace and have four teams other than the Grizzlies to chase in the team standings, it’s going to be an uphill struggle for the Phoenix Suns.
Booker and Ayton have expressed their excitement to be a part of the restart. However, given their slim chances to make the playoffs, I’m not sure if the Suns will allow both young stars to play at full throttle when the season resumes. Ayton is coming off a knee injury and although he’s had plenty of rest in the last four months, I think the Suns would be better off if Ayton takes it easier, especially with the Suns being longshots to make the postseason.
Likewise, Booker is having a fantastic year at over 26 points per game. The former Kentucky Deadshot made his first All-Star team in 2020 and there is no doubt that he is one of the top guards in the league. However, given that there are only eight games to play and they need to overtake four other teams for one playoff spot, I think it would be wise for the Suns not to let Booker off his leash in the restart.
The Suns have plenty of young talent on board and the trio of Booker, Ayton, and Oubre would make a good core for the future. But with Oubre out and the Suns a longshot to make the playoffs, I think that this restart will be a good opportunity for them to prepare for the future.
The chances of Phoenix making the playoffs are slim to none. They don’t have the third scorer to help Booker and Ayton plus they don’t have enough games to catch up. There is no value in betting on the Suns using the futures market.
The Suns however open the bubble tournament with a matchup against the Washington Wizards. In that matchup, they are a -4.5 favorite at -105 odds. I think that’s a game that the Suns have a good chance of winning. If Ayton is 100%, he and Baynes should be able to dominate the paint while Booker helps offset Bradley Beal’s scoring output. Phoenix also has Ricky Rubio, Mikal Bridges, and Dario Saric who can step up in Oubre’s absence. I like the Suns’ chances in that game. So if you want to bet on the Suns, their opening game against Washington should be your best opportunity to cash in on them.