The 2019 season was another one full of inconsistency and turmoil for the Phoenix Suns, as the team put up a terrible of record of 19-63 and missed the playoffs for the 9th consecutive season (the longest playoff drought in franchise history). Additionally, it doesn’t look like the Suns are going to have an easy road back tenth postseason anytime soon given that they’re part of a loaded western conference where almost every team can make the case that they belong in playoffs. That being said, that didn’t stop GM James Jones from using the offseason to try and improve his roster to the best of his ability in an effort to try and drag Phoenix out of the conference basement.
Despite their recent struggles, the Suns certainly have a bright spot when it comes to the production of shooting guard Devin Booker, who at only 22 years old averaged 26.6 points per game a season ago (6th highest in the NBA). Booker will always be known for his scoring and elite shooting ability, but last year he showed major improvement as a ball handler and facilitator as his he posted career highs in both assists per game (6.8) and assist percentage (34.1%). This progression in his overall game resulted in Booker putting up his most efficient season yet, and the hope is that he will only continue to shine as the lead guy even when the games become more competitive and meaningful as the roster around him strengthens.
Speaking of a better supporting cast for Booker, the Suns made it a priority to add some veteran experience to a roster that had the second youngest average age in the league last year. Ricky Rubio should help alleviate the pressure off of Booker to do everything in the backcourt, while also allowing to sometimes go back to his roots and be an off-the-ball shooter coming off of screens and cuts. They also added Dario Saric, who should help space the floor and also bring his effort and grit to table. Keeping restricted free agent Kelly Oubre in Phoenix should also be considered a win, as he shined last year after being traded to Phoenix as the opportunity allowed him to flash is upside as a two-way wing.
Perhaps they key to how much better the Suns will be this year is the development of the number one overall pick in the 2018 draft, DeAndre Ayton. Despite not having the hype that fellow rookies Luka Doncic and Trae Young had last year, the big man out of the University of Arizona had a very respectable rookie campaign as he earned a spot on the All-Rookie First Team by averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. That being said, the question with Ayton going forward isn’t about his offense, but rather his defense. If he can develop into at least an above average defender, then he should have a path to become one of the best big men in the league, but until that happens there is definitely a limit to how impactful he can be.