The Phoenix Suns are projected to have the Western Conference’s best record in the 2022-23 season … without Kevin Durant.
ESPN recently unveiled its projection for next season and it has the Suns going 56-26 to earn the best record in the West.
“Sure, Phoenix is coming off a surprising second-round meltdown to the Mavericks,” Kendra Andrews wrote. “And they didn’t make any major roster additions over the summer. Frankly, they probably don’t need any. They need Chris Paul to be healthy, Devin Booker to play at an MVP-caliber level and for any animosity between Deandre Ayton and the franchise to be erased.”
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The site projects the Suns to beat out the Golden State Warriors for the best mark in the conference.
It has Golden State going 55-27.
The Denver Nuggets are projected to finish third in the West, at 53-29, followed by the Memphis Grizzlies at 51-31.
The Los Angeles Clippers are fifth in the site’s projection, at 50-32, with the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Suns in the Western Conference semifinals, projected to end up 49-33.
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Andrews wrote: “Despite winning the title last season and presumably starting next season with a fully healthy roster for the first time in three years, the defending champs aren’t the ESPN Summer Forecast favorites to have the West’s best regular season record in 2022-23. But that’s not to say there aren’t great things ahead for Golden State. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will play their first complete season together in three years. Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole will continue to build on their careers. James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody will have bigger opportunities to grow. If anything, the Warriors should be on track to make another deep push in the postseason and have a successful regular season on their way there.
“However, it’s the Suns who we picked to repeat as the West’s No. 1 seed.”
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The Suns aren’t just projected to have the best record in the West. ESPN projects them to finish with the best record in the NBA.
In its projection for the Eastern Conference, the site has the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks each going 54-28 to lead that conference.
The Suns went 64-18 last season, the best regular season mark in the NBA.
The Warriors, who won the NBA title, went 53-29, tied with the Miami Heat for the third best record in the league.
The Grizzlies went 56-26.
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Interestingly, Caesars Sportsbook released its NBA win total projections for next season Wednesday and it had the Celtics leading the NBA with 54.5 wins.
The Suns came in second at 53.5 wins, followed by the Bucks and Warriors, who were each projected to win 52.5 games.
The Kevin Durant trade saga still hangs over the NBA as speculation and rumors continue to swirl around the Brooklyn Nets and their star forward.
A resolution to that situation would no doubt impact the win projections for some teams in the upcoming season.
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Reach Jeremy Cluff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.
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