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Expect a few more wins from the Suns, says ESPN’s Kevin Pelton

Dallas Mavericks' Ding Yanyuhang, center, battles for the ball with Phoenix Suns' Marquese Chriss, left, and Josh Jackson during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

It’s been seven years since the Phoenix Suns played in the postseason.

It doesn’t appear that the 2017-18 campaign will see an end to that playoff drought, the longest in franchise history. Phoenix’s front office, headed by general manager Ryan McDonough, appears to be playing the patience game, building around young talent like Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and 2017 first-round pick Josh Jackson.

Young teams typically don’t win much. But they do improve, and ESPN’s Kevin Pelton believes that will happen, in the form of more victories, this upcoming season.

Pelton, an analytics-minded insider, used real-plus minus to project NBA teams’ win totals. He sees the Suns’ getting over the 30-win hump.

Projected wins: 30.3

The Suns are one of the two teams projected worse on defense than the Lakers. That might undersell the defensive contributions of rookie Josh Jackson. Still, Phoenix is firmly committed to developing its young talent rather than chasing 35 wins this season — at least for now.

Of course, this projection could change should the Suns engage in a trade for disgruntled Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, which has been rumored for the last couple of weeks.

Last season, the same projections put the Suns’ win total at 28.9 and had them 14th in the Western Conference. They finished with 24 wins — the least in the conference and second-lowest total in the NBA.

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