Most Phoenix Suns fans would consider the 2021-2022 NBA season disappointing. The Suns followed their appearance in the 2021 NBA Finals with an unexpected early exit in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
To make matters worse, there appears to be serious doubt on if one of the team’s key pieces will return next season. Some experts believe it isn’t a matter of “if” the Suns make a major trade; it’s “when.”
Despite all of that, sports betting sites in Arizona still have faith in Phoenix heading into the 2022-2023 NBA season. Odds are already coming out on possible title favorites, and the Suns have made the list.
AZ Sportsbooks list Suns as Top-10 title contender
It might be a while before Phoenix Suns fans can get the sour taste of that embarrassing Western Conference Semifinals Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks out of their mouths. Now, Head Coach Monty Williams looks to help his squad rebound and get back into title contention.
Looking forward, AZ Sportsbooks are still backing the Suns. However, a lot of competition is in the way of a potential Suns championship.
2022-2023 NBA Championship Future Odds (as of June 21, 2022)
|Team||DraftKings Sportsbook||Caesars Sportsbook||BetMGM Sportsbook||FanDuel Sportsbook|
|Golden State Warriors||+600||+500||+500||+500|
The Suns are within a cluster of six teams that oddsmakers consider legitimate title contenders next season. Three Western Conference teams and three Eastern Conference teams.
Among those teams is the Golden State Warriors, whose core players just won their fourth championship in eight years. Many believe Golden State will be back in the mix next year. Sportsbooks appear to be high on the Los Angeles Clippers. While dealing with significant injuries to star players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers narrowly missed the playoffs this season after failing to advance in the Play-In tournament.
That brings us to the Suns. Phoenix set a franchise record with 64 wins this past season. The emergence of Devin Booker and the improvement of role players like Mikal Bridges should give Suns fans confidence heading into next season. However, the playoffs showed there are still some glaring holes the Suns need to fill if they want to bring a championship to Phoenix.
What the 2022 NBA offseason could look like for the Suns
How can you improve a team that finished an 82-game regular season with a record of 64-18? That’s a tricky question to answer. Thankfully, I’m not getting paid millions of dollars to come up with the answer. So I’ll gladly speculate with zero pressure.
As of Phoenix’s playoff exit, nine players are under guaranteed contracts for 2022-23. Those nine players will make $128.8 million, already over the expected $122 million salary cap. According to Spotrac.com, an online sports team & player contract tracker, Phoenix still can spend up to $19.8 million in luxury cap dollars.
Will D.A. stay?
The most glaring question is, what do the Suns do with Deandre Ayton? It would be difficult to argue that the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft has lived up to expectations. And given the reaction of most of the Suns’ fan base and the reported friction between Ayton and coach Williams, it appears it would be best for everyone if Ayton is given a chance of scenery.
Ayton is a restricted free agent this summer. He is eligible for a five-year, $177 million rookie-scale extension from the Suns. I believe he will sign the extension but will likely be a part of a sign and trade to bring in new talent for the Suns. There are several trade rumors out there about the Suns possibly trading Ayton for another big man.
Suns biggest need
There is talk of the Suns using Ayton to acquire a new man in the middle. However, I believe the Suns’ most pressing need is more three-point shooting.
Among the 16 playoff teams this past season, the Suns ranked 15th in three-pointers and free throws. Both Devin Booker and Chris Paul rely heavily on shooting mid-range two-point jumpers. The Suns need to bring in more reliable and consistent three-point shooting help this summer.
The best three-point shooter that “might” be available in free agency is probably Pat Connaughton of the Bucks. However, he would only be available if he declines his player option.
If Suns fans really want the team to move on from Ayton, I think they should hope the franchise is making calls to the Indiana Pacers. After missing the playoffs again, Indiana looks primed for a rebuild. I think the Suns could put together an Ayton-based trade package that could bring them a big man in Myles Turner, a shooter in Buddy Hield and a couple of other pieces.
Suns 2022 NBA Draft outlook
As of now, Phoenix does not have any picks in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. They traded this year’s first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2020 to acquire Chris Paul. That doesn’t mean that the Suns will not be involved in the event.
The team could easily make a trade with another team and work their way into the proceedings. Keep an eye on teams with an abundance of picks, like Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Orlando, to be potential trade partners for the Suns.