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Suns debut at No. 24 in ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings

Phoenix Suns' Mikal Bridges, left, and Deandre Ayton, right, laugh as they answer a question as the team introduces their NBA basketball draft picks Friday, June 22, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

As expected, the Phoenix Suns were not in the top-half of ESPN’s first NBA Power Rankings for the 2018-19 season.

They did, though, find themselves climb out of the bottom-five and land at No. 24.

The reward for having the worst record in basketball came this summer in the drafting of top overall pick Deandre Ayton, who averaged 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in four games at summer league. The Suns traded for rookie Mikal Bridges in the draft and surprised many by landing Trevor Ariza in free agency in hopes of upgrading their defense. They also traded for another young big with potential in Richaun Holmes. But their biggest move of the summer was signing franchise guard Devin Booker to a five-year, $158-million extension. The West is crowded, but it looks as if the Suns are trying to win now.

Now with one of the best young rosters in the league after the NBA Draft, the Suns leapfrogged some of the worst teams in the league. In particular, those teams are out East.

The Bulls, Magic, Knicks, Nets, Kings and Hawks are the six teams ranked below the Suns. Five of the six are in the Eastern Conference.

This also illustrates the strength of the Western Conference for this upcoming season. With Phoenix ranked 14th in the West, the Dallas Mavericks are the next team in the West ranked ahead of them at No. 19 overall. The Charlotte Hornets, on the other hand, are ranked 21st but are still the eighth-best team in the East, according to the rankings.

The Warriors, Celtics, Rockets, 76ers and Raptors rank as the top five teams in the rankings, in that order.

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