PHOENIX SUNS

Setting expectations: Arizona Sports roundtable predicts win total for Suns

Oct 20, 2021, 8:34 AM | Updated: 9:39 am
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball under pressure from Rajon Rondo #4 of the Los An...
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball under pressure from Rajon Rondo #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of the NBA preseason game at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Lakers 117-105. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Expectations have changed for the Phoenix Suns. At the beginning of last year, with Chris Paul in tow, it was assumed they would make the playoffs.

After finishing second in the Western Conference and coming out on top of it in the playoffs, it’s time to reset things heading into 2021-22.

The Suns have a target on their backs after making the NBA Finals, but what do we expect out of the team this year, which tips off at 7 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station with a home game against the Denver Nuggets?

We asked our show hosts and ArizonaSports.com editors to predict a win total and explain themselves. Safe to say expectations are high.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

58 games

Call me crazy, but I think the Suns are poised to match or exceed their winning percentage (.708) from a year ago. Health has a lot to do with it, and considering their roster remained remarkably healthy a season ago, the law of averages on that has to be a concern. But they’re pretty much running it back with the same core from a year ago, so I think this team will win 58 games and be in contention for the top spot in the Western Conference once again. I can’t wait to watch Devin Booker in Year 7 and how much he gleaned from both his experience in a deep playoff run and his experience in helping Team USA to a gold medal in the Olympics.

Jon Bloom, Suns play-by-play voice and postgame show host

57 wins

After completing my annual tradition of going game by game through the season schedule and picking win or loss, I have come up with a boisterous 57-25 final record that includes the Suns jumping out to a 9-1 start to the season, including a season-best seven-game win streak. That amount of wins should have them firmly in the race for the top spot in the West for the second straight season.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

53 wins

That would have tied for the third-best record in the West the last time we had a full season. The West is still tough so any predictions that get between 55-60 may be unrealistic. The core of the Suns should only be getting better, and having that continuity will certainly help. But again, the West is tough and the Suns now have that bullseye on their backs. Everyone will get up to play the Suns, something that hasn’t happened in a long long time.

Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke 

57 wins

Last season, they won 51 in 72, which projects out to roughly 58. They may have to manage Chris Paul’s minutes a little because of the short offseason, and I do wonder what the absence of an extension for Deandre Ayton means – but that’s more of a big-picture issue than something that should really impact the 2021-22 Suns. This team is returning all of its key pieces, has playoff experience now – both individually and as a team – and should be looking to finish what it started last year. I think the Suns keep it rolling.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

54 wins

They’re deep, experienced but still young enough to expect improvement. They’ve added good complementary talent in Landry Shamet and JaVale McGee. I think they’re poised to make another run provided there is real improvement from Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton and Cam Johnson. Of course, I worry about Ayton and his situation; how he handles it externally and internally. I also worry about luck and how it was clearly on their side a year ago with the regular season injuries. To be frank, I almost don’t care how many regular season games they win. At the end of the season, if healthy, they have as good a chance as anybody no matter what their seed is.

Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and co-host of Empire of the Suns podcast

They get the most in the league, 60.

This team doesn’t really have a weakness. They could be top-five in offense and defense after nearly doing it last year. They’ve got two terrific primary ball-handlers, shooting, passing, perimeter defense, rim protection and they are deep. All of it is inside a system that is clearly working and a team-oriented style of basketball on both ends that makes them better. They are the cream of the crop in the West.

Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com lead editor and co-host of Empire of the Suns podcast:

60 wins

Is this a lot? Yes. But that’s the bar for a team with continuity, upgraded depth, significant playoff experience and young players who should continue to make leaps. This same team cruised last year as one of the best in the league, through the regular season and through the playoffs. I don’t think other teams took them lightly then, either. There will be bumps in the road as the younger players like Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton evolve and grow alongside the star backcourt duo, and maybe there is load managing this season. But there’s probably more room for error against bad and average teams.

Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com editor

60 wins

Last season’s ending should be more than enough bulletin board material for the Suns to be absolutely swinging out the gate. This team was built to produce long-term and I don’t think 60 wins is out of the realm of possibility at all, speaking to architect James Jones’ work behind the scenes. Just look at the offseason he’s had with adding even more depth to a loaded roster. There’s no better way to get a bad taste out of your mouth then picking up a whole lotta Ws. Phoenix is on a mission in 2021.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at the start of the the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23...
Associated Press

2022-23 NBA schedule clears Election Day of games

The NBA's schedule for the coming season will have all 30 teams playing on Nov. 7, the night before the midterm elections.
15 hours ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks jump for the ope...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get rematch vs. Mavericks on opening night, per report

The Phoenix Suns' regular season will begin at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
2 days ago
The Phoenix Suns mascot "The Gorilla" on the court before NBA game against the Golden State Warrior...
Arizona Sports

Report: Phoenix Suns to play Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day

The Phoenix Suns will head to Denver to face the Nuggets on Christmas Day this upcoming season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported. 
3 days ago
Bill Russell, left, star of the Boston Celtics is congratulated by coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach afte...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA retires No. 6 jerseys, to add jersey patch honoring late Bill Russell

Bill Russell's No. 6 jersey is the first to be retired across the NBA. Players will wear the patch on the shoulders this year.
6 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of Game One of the Western Confere...
Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s NBA staff still mighty high on 2022-23 Phoenix Suns

If you were wondering why the Suns have attacked the offseason with tinkering, it might be time to remember the past two full seasons.
7 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety Marc...
Arizona Sports

Larry Fitzgerald, Pedro Gomez in 2022 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class

Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and late journalist Pedro Gomez are among the 2022 class entering the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
7 days ago
Setting expectations: Arizona Sports roundtable predicts win total for Suns