Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Powerhouse Pacific Division

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns

Key Arrivals: Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, Cheick Diallo, Ty Jerome, Cameron Johnson

Key Departures: Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, Richaun Holmes, De’Anthony Melton

While it would’ve been an interesting creative challenge to figure out how to say “the Suns really suck” in eight different paragraph-length ways, we’ll give this team a little credit. This new Suns team may not be as bad as the last few years.

Phoenix finally acquired a decent point guard in Rubio along with a slew of serviceable pieces to fill out the end of the bench. The Suns could have a more functional offense when Booker is off the floor this year.

And sixth time might be the charm for Head Coach Monty Williams. Williams is renowned around the league as a players’ coach. Although his win-loss record with New Orleans looks terrible, he was never put in a position to succeed. Still, he managed to squeeze a playoffs appearance with whatever he had to work with.

New general manager James Jones, even in his inexperience, appears to have some kind of plan in place. This new Suns team will still be bad, and while winning 30 games is more possible now, tanking and picking in the top three is still a distinct possibility.

Offensive outlook

The Suns were one of the worst offensive teams last season so it shouldn’t be that hard to improve. With a real point guard running the offense in Rubio plus Monty Williams’ “0.5” offense, Phoenix will at least be a fun-and-flowy team.

The addition of Rubio should also benefit Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Booker has often been criticized as an empty calorie scorer. However, lot of his inefficiencies were due to having to do too much including manning the point at certain points.

With Rubio, Booker can go back to what he does best: score in bunches. The pick-and-roll with Ayton will be one to watch. First-round pick Ty Jerome was lauded around draft circles and should provide added stability at the position.

Defensive outlook

The Suns could be one of the most improved teams on offense, but the defense should continue to be a problem. The Suns will squeeze every ounce of paint defense they can from Diallo and Baynes as they hope to patch monumental holes left by their guards.

Mikal Bridges or Kelly Oubre Jr. could develop into their best perimeter defender and they’ll be paramount in holding teams to 120 points as opposed to 130.

A quick look through their starting five and you might have the worst five-man defense outside of Atlanta and Washington. Phoenix will be fun to watch since they won’t only be scoring a lot of points but also allowing even more points.

Projected outlook: 28-54

This new Suns team will still be bad but they will flirt with the idea of being a not-so-bad team! They plugged some holes and Monty Williams will push whatever he can from his team’s young stars.

Phoenix will be quite entertaining. But the learning curve of a new coach, reintegrating themselves with new teammates, and playing in the division of death should mean they’ll still be closer to the bottom.

Keep your chin up though, Phoenix fans! A 30-win season is possible!