2. Deandre Ayton will average a 20-10
With Chris Paul likely to return, the Phoenix Suns will be back as serious title contenders. Not only that, they will be a deeper and stronger squad when the 2021-22 season begins later this year. More importantly, the core players will be better than ever.
Booker is a guaranteed 25-points-a-game scorer. He has the (Mamba) mentality to be one of the league’s top scorers for the next decade. However, he can’t carry the offensive load alone.
Enter Deandre Ayton.
Ayton showed in the 2021 NBA Playoffs that he is the real deal as a game-changing big man and is one of the modern bigs who knows how to play to his strengths. While most centers are now expected to make the occasional three-pointer, Ayton understands what he can and cannot do.
His first postseason experience should carry over to the 2021-22 regular season in a big way. The Phoenix Suns center now knows how dominant he can be, having averaged 15.8 points on 65.8 percent shooting to go along with 11.8 rebounds per game during the 2021 playoffs. He will be working on his game in the summer and will be back stronger with a more polished low-post game.
As a result of all that offseason work, Ayton will average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in the regular season. Bank on it.
3. The Phoenix Suns will make it only as far as the conference finals
As good as the Phoenix Suns were this season, they probably surprised many of the teams they faced with their combination of precise offense and rugged defense. They also benefitted from the injuries that plagued each of their opponents in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
This won’t be the case next season. Assuming that all the teams in the Western Conference are relatively healthy throughout the season, the top six teams would be the LA Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks. Almost any of these teams could make it to the Western Conference Finals with their current lineups.
The Clippers won’t make it far without Kawhi Leonard for a year. However, the rest of the teams would pose a serious threat to the Phoenix Suns’ chances of a return to the finals next season.
The LA Lakers alone would be a tough matchup for the Phoenix Suns. If they once again meet in the playoffs prior to the Western Conference Finals (with a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis), it would be very hard to see the Suns winning that matchup.
Unless the Phoenix Suns shore up their lack of size in the starting lineup and on their bench, it will be lights out for them before reaching the NBA Finals.