2019-2020 Record: 34-39
After ending the season on an 8-0 run in the Bubble and just missing out on the 8th/9th seed play-in game, the Suns entered this offseason looking to elevate themselves to a legitimate contender in the tough Western Conference. That is exactly what they did, acquiring All-Star point guard Chris Paul to form a tremendous backcourt duo with fellow All-Star Devin Booker. The Suns will be looking for Paul to continue his All-NBA caliber play and for their young core to take another leap this season to solidify themselves amongst the top teams in the West.
Starting at PG for the Suns is none other than the Point God himself, Chris Paul. He’s the old, steady hand among all the young bucks in Phoenix. As the saying goes, he is an oldie but a goldie. On a per-game basis, Paul has been a second-round caliber player throughout the 2010s with his elite assists and steals, giving owners a great foundation in two scarce categories. Unlike other, lesser players who also provide elite assists and steals such as Ricky Rubio and Elfrid Payton, CP3 is very well rounded, as his 17.6 PTS from last season were above average. He’s also capable of 2 3PM and 5 REB from the PG position. However, due to his age and injury history, you have to account for the fact that he will miss games. Last season was the first time he played at least 70 games since the 15-16 season. This takes him from a 2nd round player to a 3rd/4th round pick, where he could very well end up being a steal if he stays healthy like he managed to do last season.
At SG is the crown jewel of the Suns organization Devin Booker. Booker is a certified bucket getter, averaging 26.6 PTS this past season on healthy 49/35/91 shooting splits. While some may be worried about a potential downturn in production with the addition of CP3, CP3 isn’t a high usage player (23.3% last season), so Booker should still have an elite usage rate this season that will allow him to continue his elite production. I would take Booker at the 1st/2nd round turn, as he was the 17th ranked player in 9-Cat leagues based on per-game value. The addition of CP3 could boost Booker’s fantasy value even more, as Booker is a very well-rounded fantasy player but he turns the ball over way too much. Booker won’t be the primary ball-handler this season, which could help reduce those turnovers and allow him to focus more on the defensive end, where he has approached 1 STL. There is certainly a clear path for Booker to finish as a top 10 fantasy player in all formats this season.
E’Twuan Moore and Langston Galloway will be the primary backups to Booker this season. Both project as low-volume floor spacers, so they shouldn’t be drafted in standard leagues.
The starting SF for the Suns will be Mikal Bridges, a 3rd year player who is looking to build upon his 2nd half performance from last season. After the All-Star break, Bridges averaged 12.4 PTS, 4.2 REB, and 1.2 STL on 51/38/90 shooting splits. These numbers were good enough to put him among the top 50 in per-game value during that time period. Bridges has a very unique skill set from a fantasy perspective, as he is a 3&D player who shot above 50% from the field on the season last year. There were only six other players last year who averaged 1 3PM, 1 STL, and shot at least 50% overall. He won’t repeat those 2nd half numbers next season due to playing with CP3 now, but if he can reach double-digit points for the first time in his career and continue the increased 3-point shooting he should be able to maintain his top 75 value and could even potentially flirt with top 60 value.
Backing up Bridges will be the Suns’ top draft choice from 2019, Cameron Johnson. Johnson played a lot of PF last season, but I expect him to slide up to the 3 with the additions of Jae Crowder and Jalen Smith. Analysts industry-wide labeled his selection last year as a major reach, but he performed well last season for a rookie. He was a top 200 player based on per-game value last season, and he will continue to serve as a sharpshooter off the bench (1.9 3PM on 39% shooting last season). He’s worth a look in deep and dynasty leagues based on his shooting potential.
The Suns have a plethora of options at PF, which include Jae Crowder, Dario Saric, and Jalen Smith. Based on preseason rotations, the starter will be Crowder, the team’s major FA acquisition. Crowder has bounced around from contender to contender, as his 3&D skills have been highly coveted for the past couple of seasons. He’ll have a similar role to the one he had last season with the Heat, where he served as a two-way floor spacer at the 4. From a fantasy perspective, the 3s, boards, and steals are great, but the FG% is atrociously bad (40.1% last season). He won’t shoot 45% from 3 like he did with the Heat last season and will have a decreased role with the Suns now due to their depth at the 4. He’s a guy to target towards the end of your drafts if you need a 3&D player badly.
Saric and Smith will see minutes off the bench, with Saric having the larger role since he is already an established NBA player. Saric gives the Suns another shooting big man, and he has proven he can provide value in 3s, boards, and FT% in a bench role. He is a player to draft in a deep league as he’ll be able to provide great value in spot starts, and he isn’t useless even when coming off the bench. In a standard league, you can use him as a streamer when he does spot start if you need 3s, boards, and FT%. With Smith, I don’t think he’ll have a significant role with the team this season, but the team hopes to groom him into a lanky floor-spacing big man that gives them a significant size advantage against other teams when he is paired with DeAndre Ayton. In a dynasty rookie draft, I’d take him in the 15-20 range, but he can be safely avoided in all standard leagues.
At center is the team’s X-Factor for this season, DeAndre Ayton. Ayton has shown lots of promise over his first two seasons, and the question is: Is this the year when he makes the jump from very good to elite? I think it will be, as playing with CP3 should help Ayton more than anyone else on the team. We saw what CP3 did for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s development last season, and I’m a big believer in his ability to do the same for Ayton. We could see Ayton harness his physical gifts and become a dominant interior force putting up 20-10 a night, and any jump shot development would be an additional bonus. The past couple of seasons he has just missed top 30 value, and with his tremendous upside for this season he is locked in as a mid-2nd round pick in standard leagues, with more upside in categories leagues than in points leagues. In points leagues, he’d probably fall closer to the 3rd round, but he’s still a strong player in that format.
Jalen Smith figures to see time backing up at the 5 in addition to the 4, but other than him the Suns have no other options at center that should be considered in fantasy basketball unless you’re in a 30 team league.