NBA Season Preview: Suns

Card Ladder
Oct 30, 20215 min read

The surprise team of the 2020 season is looking to pick up where things left off last season (before the finals) with the main core of their roster returning. This is a big deal as history shows us after making the finals, teams do not have the cap space to retain their talent. In Phoenix's first year with Chris Paul they made the finals, so giving this core a few years together could translate into something special.  The Phoenix Suns are one of the few teams in the league who have several players that pride themselves on defense while also being solid offensive players. The additions of Landry Shamet and JaVale McGee offer them much needed bench depth that they lacked at times last year. In this blog, we will be looking at the Suns key players and their season outlook in cards.

Key Players:

Chris Paul:

aka the first player to ever reach 20,000 points and 10,000 assists had a career year last year despite being the ripe age of 35. From 2005 to 2018, Paul would have only played on 3 teams in his career which made it odd that Paul would be on his third team in just the last 3 seasons. Paul seemingly did the impossible and turned around the laughing stock of the league in just 1 season.

Looking at Chris Paul’s player index on Card Ladder, you can see where it fell off a tad bit after the Suns were eliminated from the Finals. On the flip side, we can see the massive increases in his key flagship base rookie card. In both PSA 9 and 10 we can see they are up massive over the last month which is impressive considering the predicament that base cards of all eras find themselves in at the moment. Chris Paul has accomplished just about everything a player could dream of individually in his career but still is chasing that illusive championship. The Chris Paul market over the short term also hinges on that as if the Suns are an early playoff exit over the next 2-3 years, don't expect Paul to be a hot commodity like he was last season.

Devin Booker:

Despite being in the league since 2015, last season was Booker's first winning season let alone first playoff appearance. The results of the Booker and Paul duo in its first season speak for themselves. Both being all stars while even having Paul in the MVP conversation, it was clear Booker had finally taken the next step in his career. Booker had been one of the most dominant wing scorers in the league for some time now, so it had become a bit worrisome for many that he had yet to win meaningful games. Now heading into this season there is immense pressure on him to carry a bigger share of the workload as Paul is now 36 years old. So far things are to be desired as the Suns are off to a 1-3 start but just about half the potential contenders have started out slow.

Looking at Booker’s player index the first thing that jumps out is how he did not see a drop off after being bounced from the finals unlike Paul. Could this be because many viewed this as Paul’s last chance to get a ring while Booker is still a young franchise cornerstone? Who knows but then you can also see what I alluded to with base card prices dropping which made Paul’s price rise odd. Booker is a player where if you are going to buy his cards you want rare short prints and or the classic numbered parallels.

DeAndre Ayton:

The former number 1 overall pick had a breakout playoff season which was after a let down of a regular season. Despite adding hall of fame and playmaking god in Paul, Ayton saw a noticeable decrease in points of 4 and rebounds. In the playoffs, his points per game went up 2, averaging 16 in an often dominant fashion against weaker centers. So much potential in this young man's game but does he care enough to take the next step? No one really knows as that was a red flag entering the league and his contract negotiations also show some desire to get paid over playing.

Ayton’s market is down big over the last 3 months with many ups and downs but a lot more downs than ups. Off to a horrid start this season, you can see how that had directly affected his market. Averaging just 13 points and 11 rebounds, those are Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown numbers… The lack of work ethic and desire to get paid should be a big red flag for any potential Ayton investor long term.

Mikal Bridges:

Is it possible that the Sun's 10th overall pick will have a better career than their 1st overall pick… Well time will tell but its clear Bridges has developed a lot faster and has a way higher ceiling than Ayton. The lengthy forward is an excellent wing defender similar to Kawhi Leonard using his freakish wingspan combined with agility and speed. Bridges has developed into an elite three point shooter, shooting just 33% his rookie year in 2018 and shot over 42% last season. In addition to that he doubled his points per game while improving his shot mechanics removing a hitch that limited his scoring ability. The only downside to Bridges is he is very passive and often does not look to score first.

Looking at his market, the base drop off appears once more similar to Booker but the prices of silver Prizm rookies seem to be doing exceedingly well. Bridges' market hinges upon either him becoming an all star and or the Suns continuing to make deep playoff runs. The interest in Bridges will fade if he just becomes an Eric Gordon type of player.