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Can Devin Booker Turn The Suns Into Winners?

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

Twenty-nine different opposing NBA teams will walk through the doors of Target Center to play the Wolves this season, and we want you to know as much as you can about all of them. What’s the order of the teams we’re previewing? It’s actually completely random! Now, a team that has a few potential stars but no sure things. 

Notable Players Acquired: Ricky Rubio (free agency), Jevon Carter (trade), Cheick Diallo (free agency), Dario Saric (trade), Frank Kaminsky (free agency), Aron Baynes (trade), Ty Jerome (draft/trade), Cameron Johnson (draft/trade)

Notable Players Lost: Josh Jackson (trade), Dragan Bender (free agency), De’Anthony Melton (trade), Troy Daniels (free agency), T.J. Warren (trade), Kyle Korver (waived), Jimmer Fredette (free agency)

What Went Down In 2018-19?

A lot of losses. Devin Booker put on a show, but it didn’t lead to much success for Phoenix. They finished in last place in the Western Conference and ended up with the No. 6 pick in the draft (which they later traded to the Wolves). Booker’s gaudy numbers were certainly the main attraction, but the Suns also had 2018 No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton turn in a strong rookie season. Additionally, Kelly Oubre, who the Suns traded for midseason, seems like he could be a fit. 

Beyond that, though, there wasn’t much positive. The Suns had an overcrowded wing rotation that didn’t really allow any players to develop or flourish because they never were certain to see the floor in a rotation that included veterans like Trevor Ariza and Jamal Crawford soaking up minutes. Nothing against those players but they didn’t really have a place on a rebuilding team like the Suns. 

The Offseason Was . . . 

Interesting. The Suns are another team that behaved as if they believe their core players are good enough to push for the playoffs. However, nobody else in the league seems to agree. The Suns moved two players that they put a lot of work into developing—Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren—and got practically nothing in return. Warren actually looked like he could be a piece for the Suns going forward, enjoying a bit of a breakout 2018-19 year, but he was flipped to the Pacers for cash in order to clear cap room. 

The Suns also flipped their No. 6 pick in the 2019 draft to the Wolves in exchange for Dario Saric and the No. 11 pick, which they used to select Cameron Johnson. That was a strange pick. Johnson would certainly have fallen further in the draft and the Suns failed to maximize the value of that slot.

The Suns signed Ricky Rubio in free agency using the room cleared by the Warren trade. Rubio is actually a good fit with the Suns and it will be fun to see what Booker and Ayton can do with a true passing point guard running the show. However, it’s unclear what signing Rubio achieves for the franchise long term. He might win the Suns too many games for them to get a good draft pick next year. 

The Big Question:

Who is Devin Booker? Is he a turnover-prone, good stats bad team guy? Or is he just waiting for a good supporting cast to give him what he needs to succeed? This year should be a good test, and maybe that’s the upside to trying to compete this year. It’s extremely hard to assess players when they’re in bad situations—what Booker does this year will be telling. 

This Writer’s Prediction 

The Suns will again find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference but they’ll be more competitive than they were last year. Ayton, Booker and Rubio will be fun fantasy assets, but there’s really no doubt that the Suns will miss the playoffs. Even a surprising upstart campaign will probably leave them more in the position of last year’s Kings than last year’s Clippers or Magic. 

Describe This Team In 15 Words Or Less

Young, athletic, and far too dependent on the development of unproven potential stars. 

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