The Phoenix Suns are No. 1 in my NBA Power Rankings Offseason Edition due to their fantastic offseason.
2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Offseason Edition: No. 1 Phoenix Suns
Phoenix came into last season with high hopes after winning 64 games during the 2021-22 campaign. The Suns started the season off fast, going 15-6 over the first month and a half. But they went 12-19 in December and January. They did close well, going 13-9 after the all-star break, which included going 8-0 with Kevin Durant in the lineup.
Ultimately, Phoenix finished fourth in the Western Conference with a 45-37 record last season. The Suns defeated the Los Angeles Clippers but then were ousted by the Denver Nuggets in the conference semifinals. As a result of their playoff failure, the Suns fired coach Monty Williams.
Suns Offseason Moves
Now, The Valley of the Sun is as giddy as ever. Phoenix will have Durant for an entire season, and they made several moves to surround him with quality veterans in hopes of winning their first NBA championship.
Phoenix is one of 10 franchises that have never lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy. They are 0-3 in their three NBA finals appearances.
Besides hiring Frank Vogel to replace Williams, the Suns’ most significant move was acquiring Bradley Beal for Chris Paul. But that was far from their only move this offseason. The Suns also received Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd, who has since been dealt to Memphis, in the trade.
Since July 1, Phoenix has made 13 separate transactions. The Suns acquired 10 players in those moves. Drew Eubanks, Keita Bates-Diop, Chimeize Metu, Yuta Watanabe, Eric Gordon, Damion Lee, Josh Okogie, Saban Lee, Bol Bol, and Udoka Azuibuike are the players moved in those transactions. Okogie and Lee are the only players that were the Suns last season. Phoenix also drafted Toumani Camara in the second round in June’s draft.
Best Offseason Decision: Trading DeAndre Ayton
Of course, the big news of the day in Phoenix was the Suns shipping out Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers. While I felt that the Suns should have kept the 25-year-old big man, they got a haul for him. So, the Suns get an A+ for the deal. Camara also heads to Portland.
Nurkic takes over for Ayton at the five. While Nurkic is not the offensive force that Ayton is, he is a very good shooter who will open up the paint for Booker, Durant, and Beal due to his ability to stretch the floor. He is also a fantastic rebounder and a better defender, passer, and shot-blocker tha Ayton. Nurkic is also just 29 and signed through the 2025-26 campaign.
Allen gives the Suns a better and younger clone of Gordon. Allen, who has some ability defensively, has shot over 39% from the 3-point line in each of the past four years. He start at small forward or be the Suns 6th-man
Little is an engigma who has yet to realize his potential. The 25-year-old, a good shooter, could start at small forward as well.
Johnson is likely an emergency only player and is likely guaranteed a roster spot due to his $2.6 miliion guaranteed salary.
Worst Offseason Decision: Firing Monty Williams
I am a big fan of Williams, and the Suns’ failures weren’t his fault. Williams posted a 194-115 record in four seasons with the Suns, leading them to two Pacific division titles and an NBA finals appearance.
While I disagree with the Suns’ decision to fire Williams, they couldn’t have gotten a better replacement than Vogel. Vogel is a hard-nosed, defensive-grind style coach who has improved the defense of every team that he has coached.
Vogel, a five-time coach of the month recipient, led the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019-20. The 50-year-old also has led his teams to the playoffs seven times and has a 431-389 career record. He sat out last season after getting fired by the Lakers at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
What’s Next?: Add Players for Training Camp
With the trade Phoenix now has 19 players under contract. Seventeen of those players have standard contracts, including 15 fully guaranteed. Therefore the Suns will have to cut two players prior to opening night. Goodwin, who has has a partial guarantee, and Ishmael Wainwright, who has a nonguaranteed pact, are the two players who are most likely to get cut.
Phoenix, which does not have a G-League team, also could add a player on a two-way deal. Azuibuike and Lee have taken two of those spots.