2018 Phoenix Suns Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
Want to know how to judge if a franchise is in a good place? Here's a simple test - they're not if they fire their general manager eight days before the start of the regular season. Now, I'm not shedding too many tears for Ryan McDonough. He took over in 2013 charged with rebuilding in the post-Steve Nash era, and five years later they are not much further ahead than they were. But if you were unhappy enough with your GM to fire him now, why do you let him stay in charge through a very active summer involving several trades, a major contract to your star, and the hiring of the GM's fifth coach? It's a bizarre, directionless move - so it is a perfect fit for these Suns.
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Perhaps the biggest knock against McDonough, and the biggest reason he got fired, was that he didn't manage to add a legitimate point guard to this team. It's an odd decision to go into a season without a legitimate starter. Heck, with a current rotation of Isaiah Canaan, rookie second-round picks Elie Okobo and De'Andre Melton, and Shaquille Harrison, who joined the team last year on a 10-day contract, they barely even have a legitimate NBA backup. It's a mess, and the problem is that every team that could help knows it's a mess and will demand a ransom in any trade. The lack of a good option could force Devin Booker into running things more, but his offensive weapons are better used in other ways.
2018 Phoenix Suns Additions and Departures
When a team has the first overall pick, that is a chance to make a big splash. And the Suns hope that they have added a second superstar-caliber player to compliment Booker in Deandre Ayton. It was a tough year for Phoenix to have the top pick - the lottery was very deep and impressive, but there wasn't a clear No. 1 pick. Ayton isn't a can't-miss guy, and there are some who aren't total believers, but he's massive and freakishly athletic, and his combination of offensive skills and defensive potential makes for an incredibly high ceiling. The biggest issue seems to be that there is no one thing that he is incredibly elite at right now, so it will probably take a while for him to contribute at a high level. Luckily, the only thing the Suns really have in surplus right now is time.
Ayton isn't the only lottery pick addition to the roster. The team picked Zhaire Smith at 16th overall then immediately traded him and Miami's first-round pick next year to Philadelphia for the rights to Mikal Bridges from Villanova. In the second round they selected French point guard Elie Okobo and shooting guard George King from Colorado, and they acquired De'Anthony Melton from USC in a trade. Melton is the most interesting of that group. He looked to have lottery talent, but he missed the entire season last year after getting caught up in the NCAA corruption scandal investigations. The team could really use a miracle that would see him step up and perform well out of the gate.
The fifth and final coach of the McDonough era is also the most interesting. The team hired Igor Kokoskov, who became the first European assistant in NCAA history when he joined the staff at Missouri at just 24 years of age, and then became the first non-American full-time NBA assistant a year later in 2000 with the Clippers. He has been an assistant with six teams, including a five-year stint with the Suns during the Nash era, and he has coached two national teams as well. He has most recently been an assistant in Utah, so hopefully some of the Quin Snyder magic rubbed off on him. It's a good hire.
The team added Trevor Ariza as a free agent on a one-year deal. It's not entirely clear why given his age, but he is still probably their best defender, and he can act as a veteran mentor for the large stable of young forwards they have. They also added Ryan Anderson in the Melton trade, sending away Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.
2018 Phoenix Suns Futures Odds and Trends
NBA title odds ( from Bovada ) : +40000
Western Conference title odds : +17500
Devin Booker MVP Odds : +27500
DeAndre Ayton ROY Odds: +350 (favorite)
Mikal Bridges ROY Odds: +4500
Season win total: 29.5
The Suns were 37-43-2 ATS on the season, so small profits were to be found on betting against them on the season - which isn't very surprising. They went "under" the total 43 times and "over" 39, so a very small profit was available on the under.
2018 Phoenix Suns Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
There is a nice collection of young talent here - Booker, Ayton, Bridges, Josh Jackson and so on. But there is no obvious cohesive plan, and the Suns themselves have proven that just grabbing a bunch of good young guys and throwing them together doesn't led to success. I like the coaching change, and a change in leadership will help, but they are still a long way from anywhere. I don't really see them going over this season win total, and if they do it won't be by much. This is a long, long way from a good team.
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