2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Phoenix Suns

With its talented core intact, Phoenix looks to move past last season's postseason collapse.

The talented Suns will be dealing with an even deeper Western Conference in 2022-23.

Phoenix belied its league-best record of 64-18 in 2021-22 by sputtering in the postseason, starting with a split of its first two games at home in the opening round against New Orleans, and finishing with a shocking Game 7 loss at Footprint Center to the fourth-seeded Dallas Mavericks. The latter marked the fourth time in franchise history Phoenix squandered a 2-0 series lead, while 12-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul suffered that fate under the same circumstances for the fifth time in his storied 17-year career. On that strange, disappointing night in Phoenix, we also saw center Deandre Ayton play 17 minutes in a crucial matchup. Coach Monty Williams explained the decision to sit Ayton was “internal.”

Externally, now though, everything appears to be trending in a positive direction, as Phoenix preps for its fifth season under Williams. The former No. 1 overall pick, Ayton finally received the max contract he’d sought since October of 2021, after first signing an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers that Phoenix matched. The Suns also extended star guard Devin Booker with a four-year, $224 supermax deal, re-signed backup center Bismack Biyombo, traded for Jock Landale, and acquired a pair of free-agent guards in Damion Lee and Josh Okogie. Free-agent big JaVale McGee bolted for Dallas in free agency, and the 2022 NBA Draft closed without the Suns selecting a player for just the second time in franchise history.

Phoenix’s relative dormancy this offseason clearly displayed the brass’ reluctance to break up a team that just two seasons ago, finished two wins short of the first title in franchise history. Williams, Paul and the rest of the Suns recognize the finiteness of their championship window. So, expect Phoenix to operate accordingly in 2022-23.


Phoenix’s 2022 collapse was significant enough to make you wonder whether it has truly gotten over it. You could see the stitches fraying in the first round, before unravelling against Dallas in the semifinals. Paul won’t make excuses, but he suffered a quadriceps injury that slowed him for the most important games of that series. Can he stay healthy enough to be 100% when the stakes are highest? The club took care of Williams, Booker and Ayton this offseason, contractually. So, now the playoff collapse is the biggest hurdle to clear.


We’ll likely see exactly why Williams won the Red Auerbach Trophy as 2021-22 Coach of the Year. Williams faces the difficult challenge of navigating Phoenix’s climb back atop a Western Conference sure to be more loaded than the last two seasons with the expected healthy revival of the Clippers, Nuggets, Lakers and Pelicans combined with the already formidable Warriors, Mavericks and Grizzlies (don’t sleep on the Timberwolves, either). With more extensive competition on the horizon than in the past, surely Williams leans on the tough learned these last two seasons. Projection: Playoffs.


53-0 — The Suns were one of two teams in the 68 seasons for which we have by-quarter numbers — the 2019-20 Lakers (57-0) were the other — to go undefeated (47-0 in the regular season, 6-0 in the playoffs) when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

— John Schuhmann


Chris Paul: Paul, 37, led the NBA in assists per game (10.8) and ranked No. 2 in steals per outing (1.9), but has been slowed in the playoffs with injuries in each of the past two seasons.

Devin Booker: First-time All-NBA guard continues to improve playmaking and efficiency and should figure more prominently this season in the Kia MVP conversation.

Mikal Bridges: Finished second in voting for Kia Defensive Player of the Year, but there’s more to unlock in Bridges’ game as he comes off a career-high 14.2 points per contest in 2021-22.

Cameron Johnson: Likely the team’s PF of the future, Johnson finished third last season in voting for Kia Sixth Man of the Year.

Deandre Ayton: Finally received the big contract, but now needs to take game up another notch while improving consistency.


Cameron Payne: Slowed by injuries last season, Payne took a step back from his 2020-21 campaign.

Bismack Biyombo: Rejuvenated career last season, and McGee’s departure means more minutes for the defensive-minded Biyombo.

Torrey Craig: A key rotation player in Phoenix’s run to the 2021 NBA Finals, Craig struggled in his mid-season return to the Suns in 2021-22.


How the Suns have fared stats-wise over the last 5 seasons …

Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 64 18 0.780 114.2 5 106.8 3 +7.5 1 X
2020-21 51 21 0.708 116.3 7 110.4 6 +5.9 3 X
2019-20 34 39 0.466 111.3 12 110.8 17 +0.5 14
2018-19 19 63 0.232 105.3 28 114.2 29 -8.9 29
2017-18 21 61 0.256 102.8 30 111.7 30 -9.0 30

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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