Suns begin year 27th in ESPN’s NBA power rankings

Oct 25, 2016, 6:35 AM | Updated: 6:58 am
Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams, left, passes around Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler durin...

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams, left, passes around Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Phoenix Suns head into the 2016-17 season sitting 27th in ESPN reporter Marc Stein’s NBA power rankings.

Something tells us Devin Booker won’t soon forget his 20th birthday, since he’ll be commemorating the milestone Sunday night in a home game against the mighty Warriors, fresh off hearing that NBA GMs are projecting him as the young player most likely to have a breakout season in 2016-17. Booker looks ready, judging by his preseason play, given that he just averaged 26.6 points per 36 minutes for those very young Suns in exhibition play.

Booker’s rookie season, where he averaged 13.8 points in 27.7 minutes per game, showed promise that he can grow into an elite player, however, one player won’t be enough to reach the playoffs after Phoenix’s injury-plagued 23-59 year. Booker eclipsed 1,000 points at just 19 years and 162 days, becoming the fourth-youngest player to reach that mark in NBA history after LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

This offseason was spent bolstering the Suns’ young and developing core.

In the draft, the Suns picked up international big man Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Tyler Ulis. To add more leadership alongside veteran center Tyson Chandler, former Suns Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley were re-signed to multi-year contracts.

The Suns aren’t projected to be dead last in their division. The Los Angeles Lakers are a spot lower than the Suns at No. 28. The bottom two teams in the current rankings are the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.

The two forces to be reckoned with, according to Stein’s power rankings, are none other than the No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers, following LeBron James’ epic lift of the Cleveland curse, and the Golden State Warriors, who followed a 73-9 season with the signing of Kevin Durant.

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