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ESPN says the Phoenix Suns will finish last in the Western Conference

Phoenix Suns' Josh Jackson shoots over Dallas Mavericks' Carrick Felix during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Forecasters call for murky skies with a chance of improvement at the Purple Palace.

With the NBA season right around the corner, a panel of ESPN writers predicted the win totals for each team in the Western Conference and they are not high on the Phoenix Suns.

Sixers fans have “The Process,” and now Suns fans have “The Timeline,” and that timeline doesn’t have Phoenix being competitive this season. Of course, just like with the Timberwolves, a Kyrie trade could throw off the Suns’ entire projection, but as things stand now, it looks like Phoenix will once again be competing for lottery pingpong balls, and maybe finally landing that No. 1 pick that has eluded the franchise.

Last season, the Suns finished with the worst record in the West (24-58). By the time the upcoming season wraps up in April, ESPN has predicted the Suns will once again finish dead last – albeit with four more wins. If their forecast comes true, Phoenix will finish 28-54.

After a quiet free agency period, general manager Ryan McDonough appears committed to “The Timeline.”

Suns fans are desperate for playoff contender again, but the team is content to let their young core continue to develop. After a breakout sophomore campaign, shooting guard Devin Booker will look to establish himself as an elite player.

But, how fast the timeline could depend on the team’s group of young front court players. At the center position, Alex Len, Dragan Bender and Alan Williams will try to continue the maturation process. How head coach Earl Watson divides up the minutes remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, small forward T.J. Warren, point guard Tyler Ulis and rookie small forward Josh Jackson are all in the same boat. Eric Bledsoe should start at point guard, but with Brandon Knight out for the year with a torn ACL, Ulis should play with the second unit.

The Suns could decide to send one or multiple players to the newly renamed NBA G League, but Phoenix will not make any decisions until the season starts.

Regardless of how season turns out, fans should have plenty to watch this season.

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