The Phoenix Suns will kick off the 2024 season in just a few short weeks, looking to avenge themselves from a second-round exit in the 2023 playoffs. Their roster will look much different this year on opening night as they have made several roster moves.
The Suns are still among the betting favorites. Per Burn City Sports, Draft Kings Sportsbook has the Suns with third-best odds to win the 2024 NBA title, behind the Boston Celtics and defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
The Suns have had the luxury of adding superstar Kevin Durant at the trade deadline and Bradley Beal during the offseason. But the Suns have also had to part ways with key players. They shipped Chris Paul to the Wizards as part of the Beal trade and, most recently, traded former top pick Deandre Ayton to the Blazers to acquire Jusuf Nurkic.
Per Jacob Hardin of Burn City Sports, the Suns are already projected to win more games than last year and are on a historic pace in terms of regular season wins.
“Currently, the Suns’ win line stands at 51.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook. To put this into perspective, last season, they won 45 games,” Hardin writes. “But over the past three years, they have consistently maintained an average of 53 wins per season. This average over the past three years is higher than any other team in the NBA.”
Damian Lillard Sent to Bucks in Deandre Ayton Deal
Deandre Ayton may have been the featured player for the Suns in the blockbuster deal that sent him to the Blazers, but he was certainly not the centerpiece. For those who may be tardy to the party, NBA All-Star Damian Lillard was also a part of the blockbuster three-team deal that sent Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks. The full details of the trade are listed below:
Milwaukee’s 2029 unprotected first-round draft pick
Unprotected Milwaukee swap rights in 2028 and 2030
Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson, sources told Wojnarowski
Following the trade, Bucks president Peter Feigin and general manager John Horst sounded off about the deal that landed their franchise another All-Star.
“Today is an exciting day for Milwaukee,” they said via ESPN. “When you have the rare opportunity to pair one of the premier NBA players with a highly versatile roster that has lofty goals, you go for it. And we’re thrilled to welcome seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard to the Bucks.”
Williams: Nurkic ‘Nice Change of Pace’ for Suns
Questions have surrounded Phoenix’s decision to get involved in the Lillard deal and part ways with Ayton. Even though his last two seasons in Phoenix have been somewhat tumultuous, he still was the top pick in 2018 and has limitless potential when engaged.
Trading Ayton to the Blazers for Jusuf Nurkic is also a bit of a head-scratcher because he goes against the grain of the roster the Suns have spent all summer building. He is not athletic like Ayton and is significantly older at age 29.
But Everett Williams of Sports Illustrated says that Nurkic can add toughness to the Suns’ identity, which will be essential if the Suns hope to contend in the Western Conference.
“Nurkić is a bruising big man who utilizes his size and weight to overwhelm opposing centers in the league. Although Nurkić is not as offensively diverse as Ayton was, his effectiveness will come via rebounding opportunities and screen-setting,” Williams writes.
“On the defensive end, Nurkić offers a premier shot-blocking threat. His willingness to challenge drive toward the rim could see Nurkić in some foul trouble, but the payout for physicality down low will be a nice change of pace for a Suns team that couldn’t squeeze that from Ayton.”