Every year since starting this site I’ve done a Suns statistical predictions article that I usually combine with the Suns Twitter win-loss predictions. This year, I decided to separate those two into different pieces.
For a team that has a legitimate 9-man rotation basically set in stone and with balanced scoring across the board, it will be tough to gauge exactly how this team’s offense is balanced, but I’ll do my best.
Let’s dive in, but first, check out this sexy Valley Oop mug:
The Statistical Predictions
Chris Paul- PG
15.7 PPG, 9.2 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG on 50/38/91 shooting splits.
Chris Paul is 36 years old entering what should be a grueling 82-game season coming off a short offseason. It’s likely for the first time in his career he could be on some sort of load management program, but even I wouldn’t bet on that given his personality.
Factoring in the leaps that some of the young guys’ figure to make, it wouldn’t be a shock to see CP3’s points per game take a slight dip this season. They’ll still need him to close out games from time to time and go full “Point God” mode, but probably not as frequently as last season.
Devin Booker- SG
25.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, 0.9 SPG on 50/36/88 shooting splits.
Booker missed the start of training camp due to COVID protocols, but I don’t think that really impacts him to start the season. He’ll have plenty of time to recover and get his mind right ahead of their season opener. I don’t expect the point per game to change all that much, but a slight increase in efficiency and continuing to cut down on turnovers should be the key.
Hot(ish) take: The closer Booker is to 40% three-point shooting, the closer he is to winning MVP.
Mikal Bridges- Wing
14.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 SPG on 53/41/85 shooting splits.
A lot of people expect some huge leap from Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton to happen all at once. On this team, I just don’t see it happening at least from a per-game perspective due to how deep they are. That doesn’t mean they aren’t getting better, what we’re looking for are impact and efficiency. Gradual progress and getting 10% better every year is the trajectory I see Mikal on… offensively at least.
I think another minor leap is coming, and it’ll start with confidence and consistency. Defensively we’re talking about an All-NBA 2nd Team defender AT MINIMUM next year. Bookmark it.
Jae Crowder- Forward
9.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 BPG on 40/37/77 shooting splits.
Crowder could end up taking a slight dip in some per-game statistics, but think his impact defensively and spacing the floor will still be vital. He is one of the most consistent year-to-year players in the NBA, so there’s nothing shocking here.
When factoring in the projected leaps that Bridges and Johnson will take on the wing, it’s easy to see a world where the scoring is a little less consistent from Jae.
Deandre Ayton- Center
16.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 BPG on 61/27/79 shooting splits.
It’s easy to see a world where Ayton overtakes CP3 as the Suns’ second-leading scorer with more opportunity. His efficiency has been incredible enough to warrant some more looks offensively, though they may have to get a bit more creative to get him those touches in the flow of their offense.
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store in year 4 for the Suns’ franchise center.
Cameron Johnson- Wing
11.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG on 43/37/85 shooting splits.
Like I have for most of the young guys, I’m being careful with overdoing Cam’s offensive leap from a per-game perspective. Although I think he will be a better player and have more opportunity, it’s a “we score” mentality on this team and Johnson figures to be sharing minutes with Jae and Mikal again, so I don’t see some major leap coming barring an injury or more opportunity (aka averaging 30 minutes a game).
Cameron Payne- PG
10.0 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.5 RPG, 0.7 SPG on 47/41/88 shooting splits.
The jump to double digits makes that six Suns players in double-digit points per game, with Crowder sitting right on that edge at 9.2. Last year they did have 5 players average 10+ points per contest, and then spots 6-8 in their rotation were all above 8.4, so the balance is truly there. Payne may get to start a couple more games this year than he did last year (1), with the grueling 82-game season on a short turnaround.
The Rest of the Rotation
Landry Shamet just missed being included in this list along with JaVale McGee due to the fact that I believe they’ll mostly stick right around their career averages more or less.
Shamet might be able to showcase some playmaking and could get the opportunity to do more at times, but the consistent minutes/need for someone backing up Devin Booker just doesn’t leave a ton of time for him to make a significant leap.
He will have his moments, but I’m just not totally confident in how often he’ll get enough consistent minutes to truly capitalize in the sense of a statistical leap. Three-guard lineups will have to be a consistent theme for him to get the necessary burn.
Abdel Nader isn’t likely going to be seeing a ton of time but should be getting somewhere in that 10-12 minutes per game rage. If they trade for Thad Young, he’s probably back to an insurance wing, which is still very important to have in today’s NBA.
Jalen Smith will need to earn time, plain and simple. It’s impossible to predict how he looks in camp/practice, and impossible to predict if he’ll even be on the team by the time the season starts. They sure could use a productive version of himself stretching the floor, rebounding, and protecting the rim. Time will tell if he ever puts it together.
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