NBA 2023-2024 Preview: Will the Phoenix Suns Shine Bright in the League?

Phoenix Suns NBA Preview 2023 2024

Who will succeed the Nuggets as NBA champions ? Over the next month, our team delves into all 30 teams of the American basketball league. Today, we head to Arizona to discuss the Phoenix Suns.

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2022/2023 Season Review: A Risky Move Yet to Pay Off

The Phoenix Suns’ season was monotonous, even disappointing, until February 9th. On that date, the management decided to accelerate their project by acquiring Kevin Durant in a trade, seemingly sacrificing their future in a bold move. Despite a better second half of the season, the Suns could only secure the fourth spot in the conference. They were then defeated in the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champions, the Denver Nuggets, in a series marked by Chris Paul’s injury and Deandre Ayton’s underperformance.

These two players emerged as the team’s most vulnerable key pieces. The new owner, Mat Ishbia, pushed General Manager James Jones to hit the big red button this summer. Paul and Ayton were traded for a lengthy list of role players but, more importantly, for Bradley Beal. Beal will now join forces with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, forming a trio with potentially limitless offensive firepower. It’s a “superteam” with clear ambitions of chasing the franchise’s first-ever championship.

Offseason Moves

Departures

Chris Paul (Warriors), Deandre Ayton (Blazers), Landry Shamet (Wizards), Cameron Payne (Bucks).

Extensions

Josh Okogie (2 years), Damion Lee (1 year), Saben Lee (two-way).

Arrivals

Bradley Beal (Wizards), Jusuf Nurkic (Blazers), Eric Gordon (Clippers), Grayson Allen (Bucks), Yuta Watanabe (Nets), Drew Eubanks (Blazers), Bol Bol (Magic), Nassir Little (Blazers), Keon Johnson (Blazers), Keita Bates-Diop (Spurs), Chimezie Metu (Kings), Udoka Azubuike (two-way).

Suns’ Starting 5

Bradley Beal – Devin Booker – Josh Okogie – Kevin Durant – Jusuf Nurkic

Bench Rotation

Point Guards

 Damion Lee, Saben Lee (two-way)

Shooting Guards

Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Keon Johnson

Small Forwards

 Nassir Little, Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop

Power Forwards

Bol Bol, Chimezie Metu

Centers

Drew Eubanks, Udoka Azubuike (two-way)

Strength and Weaknesses

Weakness: Rebuilding Phase

In a single offseason, the Suns have brought in twelve new players, along with a new coach. The team looks completely different from last season. Now, they need to find synergy among all this new personnel for the team to function effectively. This falls on the shoulders of Frank Vogel, who hasn’t coached since his departure from the Lakers in April 2022. He’ll have to establish a new playing philosophy essentially from scratch. Questions also arise about the bench: who can truly stand out among the reserves? Who will be the 6th, 7th, 8th, or even 9th men in this lineup? Losing their coach, point guard, center, and the entire bench has shaken the foundations of the team. The Suns have their work cut out for them.

Strength: Starting Five

On paper, the Suns potentially boast the best starting five in the NBA. The trio of Booker/Durant/Beal represents an almost limitless offensive force. They can also work together seamlessly, as all three can play off the ball. Together, they could easily average 75 points per game this season. Durant, Booker, and Beal can share playmaking duties on offense, even though none of them is a natural point guard. This union of intelligent, talented players who have all proven themselves at an individual level has great potential. Moreover, they will be surrounded by defensive stalwarts to complete the starting five: Josh Okogie and Jusuf Nurkic. It all seems perfectly balanced.

Player to Watch: Jusuf Nurkic

He’s the latest addition to the roster. In late September, the Suns acquired Jusuf Nurkic and other pieces as part of the Damian Lillard trade, which also sent Deandre Ayton to Portland. They changed their starting center in the deal, a decision that was “unanimous” within the franchise. Nurkic, an intelligent and versatile player who can be of great service to the stars around him, is “better suited to our team,” according to owner Mat Ishbia. The Bosnian center is more capable of getting into the physical battles than Ayton was. His integration should not be difficult, as he can serve the stars and facilitate their offensive game, much like he did in Portland. At 29 years old, Nurkic is still in his prime. After seven years with the Blazers where he seemed to plateau, he could experience a resurgence in an exciting project like that of the Suns. Given the depleted frontcourt rotation, the coaching staff is truly counting on him.

End of Season Prediction: 3rd in the West

This Suns project has all the ingredients for success, given the individual talents, experience, and complementarity of the team. There’s even an obligation for results, considering the investments made and the long-term sacrifice. The front office has built a roster geared for a championship, and it must now meet those expectations. However, what happens off the court will also be crucial. In case of injury to one of the Durant/Beal/Booker trio, the team will lose some of its shine. Team cohesion must also be at its peak. The last star trio formed with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn ended badly due to locker room issues. Fortunately, coach Frank Vogel is accustomed to coaching and winning with stars, as he did with the Lakers’ Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who won the title in 2020. He will aim to replicate that success this season.

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