Phoenix Suns favorite to win West, says projection from ESPN

Sep 29, 2022, 7:09 PM

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns stands on the court with Mikal Bridges #25, Devin Booker #1 and C...

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns stands on the court with Mikal Bridges #25, Devin Booker #1 and Cameron Johnson #23 during the first half of Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on May 15, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 123-90.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Statistical projections can’t account for chaos.

A Phoenix Suns franchise up for sale after an investigation of its owner — and a team with one of its best players and head coach not talking to each other — certainly enters training camp with red flags about how successful it can be in 2022-23.

But the analytical models don’t see all that drama. ESPN’s, pieced together by Kevin Pelton, only sees that the Suns have put together three very successful seasons under head coach Monty Williams, culminating with a 64-win regular season last year.

Phoenix also returns much of the same squad as the past two years.

So Pelton’s model — based on a combination of his SCHOENE player projections and a luck-adjusted Regularized Adjusted Four Factors — sees an average of 49.0 wins for the team. That’s best in the Western Conference.

No statistical projection can factor in the possible mental toll of Phoenix’s lopsided Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last season nor whatever is going on between newly signed center Deandre Ayton and the organization. Still, the Suns have enough talent and a big enough cushion from last season’s 64 wins to project atop the West. Note their predicted rotation does not include Jae Crowder, as the team and the veteran forward agreed he would stay home from training camp while awaiting a possible trade.

It should be noted that Pelton’s model considers the past three years, where many of the same Suns players have produced and remained relatively healthy.

Other favorites in the West, for example, get dinged. The reigning champion Golden State Warriors project at 41.9 wins, eighth in the conference, because of their rebuilding situation that led into the 2021-22 success.

The revamped Los Angeles Clippers similarly come in sixth, and the absence last year of star Kawhi Leonard and his injury history paired with that of co-star Paul George are accounted for in Pelton’s model as well.

The projections, though, like the Denver Nuggets, whose 47.9 average wins in the model are second-best in the Western Conference. The New Orleans Pelicans follow closely at 47.6 average wins.

Out in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics (53.9) and Milwaukee Bucks (49.5) lead the NBA in projected average wins in Pelton’s model.

Phoenix Suns

Cameron Payne...

Arizona Sports

Scottsdale PD details arrest of former Suns PG Cameron Payne

Former Suns point guard Cameron Payne was arrested in Scottsdale last month, and the Scottsdale Police Department released details. 

11 hours ago

Devin Booker looks on...

Arizona Sports

Devin Booker drains circus shot in Team USA’s exhibition win vs. Germany

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker continues to provide a boost for Team USA, as seen Monday in an exhibition win over Germany.

14 hours ago

Inside the NBA...

Associated Press

Warner Bros. Discovery to match Amazon Prime Video’s offer to carry NBA games

Warner Bros. Discovery informed the NBA Monday that it will match the $1.8 billion per year offer by Amazon Prime Video.

14 hours ago

Kevin Durant looks on...

Arizona Sports

Report: Kevin Durant out for Team USA’s final exhibition vs. Germany

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant is reportedly out for Team USA's final exhibition against Germany ahead of the Paris Olympics.

16 hours ago

LeBron James smiles...

Associated Press

LeBron James named Team USA male flagbearer for Paris Olympics opening ceremony

LeBron James wasn’t sure what the opening ceremony was all about for his first Olympics. This time, he’ll be a star of the show.

16 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Should we be concerned about the USA Men’s and Women’s basketball teams?

Dan Bickley recaps the weekend exhibition games for the USA basketball teams and explains why he is concerned on his Bickley Blast.

19 hours ago

Phoenix Suns favorite to win West, says projection from ESPN