The Phoenix Suns ended the 2017-18 NBA season as the worst team in the league with a 21-61 record, winning just ten times in Talking Stick Resort Arena, so the fans were excited after the 19-year old big man DeAndre Ayton was selected as the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. The seven-footer was a dominant force in his rookie year with the Arizona Wildcats averaging 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 33.5 minutes per game while shooting 61.2% from the field. In four games in the 2018-19 NBA Summer League, DeAndre Ayton has shown he could make an instant impact for the Suns next season recording 14.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and one block in 26.5 minutes per game.
However, if you look at the complete picture, the Suns will need much more than just an exceptional rookie to make the 2018-19 NBA Playoffs. Ayton would be a great addition in the paint for years to come, for sure, while the Suns already have a talented backcourt with Devin Booker onwards, but they will need to improve a lot in the further months in literally all aspects of the game to even think about battling for the playoffs next year. The Suns have decided to set Igor Kokoskov as the first ever European born head coach in the NBA, and that’s already a gamble, although Kokoskov is around the league for a long time, while he has won the European championship with Slovenia last summer, having Luka Doncic in the team. Kokoskov is well-known for his great work with the backcourt players, so the Suns wager on him to make Devin Booker and the team better.
Booker is undoubtedly the future NBA superstar who has to develop constantly, and in his third season in the league, Devin Booker has averaged 24.9 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.5 rebounds, shooting 43.2% from the field, and 36.5% from beyond the arc in 54 games. The super talented shooting guard showed some playmaking skills recording 24.4% of assist rate, but in general, the Suns played some poor basketball on both ends of the floor. They had the worst offensive ratio in the NBA scoring 103.5 points per 100 possessions, although having the second-best pace in the league with 100.3 possessions per 48 minutes. The Suns shot 44.2% from the field which was the third-worst record, while 33.4% from beyond the arc was the worst in the league, while only the Portland Trailblazers made fewer assists per game than Phoenix.
On the other side, the Suns’ defensive ratio was also the undermost, allowing 112.8 points per 100 possessions, so Igor Kokoskov will have plenty of work to do with his boys this summer. For the next season, the Phoenix Suns have signed the 33-year old veteran small forward Trevor Ariza on a one-year deal worth $15 million, and it should be a huge boost for the young core, particularly at the defensive end. Ariza is a remarkable stopper who could add some defensive versatility and experience into the Suns’ starting lineup, although plenty of pundits and experts still cannot understand this move, as Ariza is a player who could help some teams to challenge the NBA Finals. But, his one-year contract could be a signal that something’s cooking here.
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“Trevor is a talented two-way player who will bring defensive versatility, shooting, and leadership to our organization”, said the Suns’ General Manager Ryan McDonough. “He has played a big role on a lot of successful teams and we think he will have a tremendous impact on our club, so we are excited to have Trevor join the Suns franchise”.
Ariza certainly can help both T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson to improve this season, and these two guys should be key members alongside Devon Booker and DeAndre Ayton. However, the reliable point guard is still the biggest issue for Kokoskov and the Suns, as Brandon Knight is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, while the rookie Elie Okobo seems too raw at this point. Likewise, the options on the market are pretty limited, so the Suns could wait for the next summer when some superstars will become free agents, including Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving. If Ryan McDonough and Igor Kokoskov decide to wait, this could be another painful season for the Suns’ fans.
With LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers, the competition in the Western Conference looks stiffer than ever. The Phoenix Suns will have a mountain to climb if they want to make the NBA postseason, as at least ten franchises will die to reach the playoffs, so I just cannot see DeAndre Ayton playing postseason basketball in his rookie season. All in all, the bettors can expect a tremendous battle in the West, while all odds will be available on Delaware Park Sportsbook where the Phoenix Suns are set as the biggest underdogs to win the 2018-19 NBA title with the wages at +50000.