Before the offseason, the Western Conference was already a tough conference to advance in. the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets controlled the top two spots with fresh teams like the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves cracked the top-8.
Then LeBron James changed everything. The Los Angeles Lakers look to be one of the one of the teams that could reach the playoffs in James' first season. Keep in mind that LeBron has reach the NBA Finals eight straight seasons.
One of the teams that hopes to reach the playoffs is the Phoenix Suns. In the offseason, the went out and added Trevor Ariza and drafted a center of the future Deandre Ayton. Trading for Mikal Bridges during the draft and most recently Richaun Holmes adds another dimension to the team.
Despite making these improvements, the Suns could find themselves out of the playoffs for a ninth straight season. The Suns will remain one of the younger teams in the league, the inexperience will prove to be too much for the Suns to over come.
Western Conference predictions
The Warriors and the Rockets will likely remain at the top of the Western Conference. The Jazz could rise up a couple of spots and the Oklahoma City Thunder will be better. The Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans will likely remain in the fold as well. The two teams from a year ago that are mysteries are the Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers could find themselves in the playoffs this season, as well as the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks. That leaves the Suns on the outside looking in.
“I’m done with not making the playoffs. I’m serious. This is probably the last year I’m ever not making the playoffs. That’s putting pressure on myself I need. I’m watching these games right now with teams trying to clinch and the playoff atmosphere of those games and those are the games I want to be in.” Devin Booker said back in April.
If the Suns wanted a sho at the sixth, seventh or eighth seed, the would have had to won 48 games or better. They finished the season with 21 wins. Even though they are at a good place in The Timeline, a 26 game improvement might be a little too much to ask at this point.
What are the Suns still missing?
The biggest need the Suns currently have on their roster is at the point guard position. The 2019 free agency period could change all of that.
Malcolm Brogdon, D'Angelo Russell, Terry Rozier, Kemba Walker and Patrick Beverly are just some options that the Suns could choose from next season. If Phoenix were able to land one of these players, it would be a big upgrade from Brandon Knight and Elie Okobo. It would be the last piece to the playoff puzzle.
The Warriors have Stephen Curry. The Thunder have Russell Westbrook. The Rockets have Chris Paul. The Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard. Each of these teams represented the top-4 of the Western Conference.
Unfortunately for Suns fans, they will have to struggle one more season without playoff basketball. But fret not, as it was rewarding for the Philadelphia 76ers to go through The Process, the conclusion of The Timeline for the Suns will have the same effect, putting the Western Conference on notice.