Hot Take Marathon: The Suns Won’t Be Awful This Year
The Durango Herald
*The NBA offseason is cooling down, but the takes at OTG aren't. This month, we are hitting you with the Hot Take Marathon. Check back every day for a spicy NBA take!*
I’ve been hesitant to write this piece for fear that it will derail my already flailing sports writing career. This take is hotter than the actual dumpster fire that was the Suns last year. There has been plenty of shade being thrown at the Suns by my OTG teammates. Now, I’m not going to name any names, but I will tell you his Twitter handle (@EvanDyal). So, for my hot take, I’m just going to try and cool off some of my esteemed colleagues’ takes.
The Suns were the ONLY team that Evan claimed didn’t have a player worth watching outside of its top two. To be fair, I don’t even know who the Suns’ second-best player is at this point. TJ Warren? DeAndre Ayton? Trevor Ariza? Even last year, though, the Suns had a little bit of everything for every type of fan.
Do you like defensive-minded non-shooters hustling to not have to play overseas? I present to you, Shaquille Harrison. Does an immature, hotheaded waste of athletic ability tickle your fancy? Marquese Chriss is your man. Is The Invisible Man your favorite H.G. Wells novel? Then, Dragan Bender is your favorite player. (This isn’t helping my case, is it? Fine, I’ll concede this point.)
This one, I definitely have an issue with. Fourth-worst league pass team?!? I dare anyone to watch a whole Cleveland or Orlando game this year without making this face:
The Suns are going so much more fun to watch than they were last year. They hired a great offensive mind in Igor Kokoskov. He brings a creative offensive system predicated on ball movement and misdirection that will be aesthetically pleasing to even the most casual NBA fan.
The Suns significantly upgraded their talent, too. They brought in three exciting rookies in DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Elie Okobo. Trevor Ariza should provide a steadying veteran presence that actually plays (sorry, Chandler and Dudley.) Oh, and they actually have an NBA-caliber player at the point. Even if you think Brandon Knight is just going to be below average this year, that’s still a substantial improvement from the smorgasbord of inadequacy that they ran out last year.
However, the main reason that the Suns will be entertaining and won’t suck as much is because of Devin Booker. Despite what Dominic claims, Devin Booker is a franchise player and a future superstar. A lot of Booker’s critics will say that he’s inefficient or doesn’t contribute to winning basketball. They’ll say that he’s just putting up empty stats on a bad team. Well, let’s take a quick look at some of those stats from last year: 24.9 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds with a true shooting percentage of 56%.
Do you know the only other players in NBA history to put up those kinds of numbers before turning 22? Michael Jordan and LeBron James. That’s it; that’s the list. Now, I’m not trying to say he’s going to be as good as those guys, but people seem to forget that he’s still only 21. He’s younger than both Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons.
Booker still has another leap or two in him on his journey to superstardom. He’s getting invaluable experience this summer as part of the Team USA minicamp. He finally has some decent talent around him with Ayton manning the paint and shooters like Ariza and Bridges to open up the floor. I fully expect him to approach 27-28 points per game on increased efficiency while continuing to blossom as a playmaker (his defense will probably still suck, but one step at a time.)
And that’s why I think the Suns won’t be awful. In the NBA, teams only go as far as their best player takes them. Devin Booker is molding himself into a player that can carry a team, and this is the year where it will finally translate to wins (I’m hoping for 35. It may not seem like much but to Suns fans, it’s everything.) I know the West is a gauntlet this year, but they’ll sneak up on teams expecting a pseudo off day when they play the Suns. This year is a crucial stepping stone to realizing the full potential of #TheTimeline, and a year where I can hopefully recoup some of my dignity as a fan.