Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns high fives fans after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on April 26, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 112-97. Christian Petersen/Getty Images


  • The Suns enter the 2022-23 NBA season with more questions than answers
  • Landry Shamet taking the next step in his career will be crucial to their success
  • Improving on their defense as a whole is a must

The 2022-23 NBA season is nearing its start and all 30 franchises are getting right back into the swing of things thanks to preseason action.

After dropping the opener against the Adelaide 36ers, the Phoenix Suns bounced back with a strong 119-115 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers despite trailing by 13 points.

Calling it a statement win would be overselling things, but it did present some pressing concerns for Phoenix.

Below are early observations from their second preseason game.

Top Seed Run May Be Over

It has become apparent that the Suns are not as dominant as they were in their run to the 2021 Finals appearance and last year's franchise-best 64-18 record.

Losing backup center JaVale McGee to the Dallas Mavericks this offseason was a massive blow to their already-shoddy frontcourt depth and Jae Crowder searching for a new home does not improve things.

Having Aaron Holiday depart for the Atlanta Hawks could also be a major misstep on the Suns' part since he appeared to be a perfect fit for Phoenix if Chris Paul or Cameron Payne were to miss time.

The Suns are entering the 2022-23 season with a lot of fans doubting the roster because they added a ton of talent that has yet to prove themselves in a playoff atmosphere.

Players like guards Frank Jackson, Damion Lee and Duane Washington Jr. are all perfectly serviceable bench pieces during the regular season, but Jackson and Washington have yet to taste playoff action while Lee only averaged 7.8 minutes during the Golden State Warriors' run to the chip last season.

Acquiring Jock Landale from the Hawks for cash considerations is a high-risk, high-reward play by general manager James Jones since he has shown flashes of brilliance after his lone NBA season last year and his 14 points with two three-pointers made against the Lakers could be a sign of things to come.

The return of Dario Saric from a torn ACL makes things a little bit easier for them after dropping 12 points against Los Angeles, but how he performs in the regular season remains to be seen.

The Suns need to jell together as quickly as possible, but hopes of them being a top seed in the perennially brutal Western Conference might be over and could see themselves being forced to settle for a lower seed.

It is not entirely a bad thing since teams like the 2011 Mavericks, 2004 Detroit Pistons and 1995 Houston Rockets all achieved championship glory despite not holding the one or two seed.

Mikal Bridges, 2022-23 NBA Preseason
Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns fouls LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter of their preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on October 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Suns defeated the Lakers 119-115. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Landry Shamet Must Catch Fire More Often

Phoenix traded for Landry Shamet in August of 2021 as they sought to improve their shooting off the bench and he has proven to be a valuable cog in Monty Williams' perimeter-heavy offense.

He averaged 8.3 points on 39.4 percent field goal shooting (36.8% from three) in 69 games and his performance against the Lakers could hopefully be a sign he is taking the next step in his career.

Shamet orchestrated the Suns' comeback against the Lakers after notching 21 points with five three-pointers made out of seven attempts–making them off the dribble and while fading away on catch-and-shoot situations.

If he can keep up this level of shooting for the rest of the season while also improving on his defense, the Suns could find some much-needed stability off the bench.

Landry Shamet, Phoenix Suns
Landry Shamet #14 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a three-point shot against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on May 04, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 129-109. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Team Defense Could Sink Playoff Hopes Again

The Suns nearly losing to a Lakers team that had rebuilt practically their entire roster would have been an embarrassing showing for the 2021 Western Conference Champions.

They allowed Kendrick Nunn and Dwayne Bacon to put up 21 and 11 points respectively while also allowing sophomore Austin Reeves to corral two offensive rebounds against a frontcourt that had Deandre Ayton, Landale and Saric.

Defense has been a pain point for them in their long history and this season might produce similar struggles.

Since the Suns returned to the spotlight in the 2020-21 season, the Suns found themselves among the top ten teams in defensive rating with 110.4 during that season and 106.8 last year–good for sixth and third respectively.

Those numbers would later sink to 109 and 114.9 respectively in the playoffs, with them struggling to beat a New Orleans Pelicans team that did not have Zion Williamson and later culminated into a massive Game 7 disaster against the Luka Doncic-led Mavericks.

It can be argued that having Chris Paul and Devin Booker lead the offense should keep them afloat in that regard, but the same could not be said on defense.

Though Bismack Biyombo is still a quality defense-first big, they may need to scrounge around for parts in the buyout market especially if they do not get a major return for Crowder.

To count out the Suns from the title race this early is completely unfounded since it is still preseason, but how they play against the Mavericks in the season-opener on October 19 could determine how far they go.

Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns gets ready for their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on March 30, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images