The Phoenix Suns will enter their 2019-20 NBA season looking to escape from under that dark cloud that has engulfed them for the last few seasons. With failed draft pick after pick and missed free agency opportunities, the Suns may have found their formula. With Devin Booker as the lead catalyst and second-year big man Deandre Ayton in the paint, they have their inside/outside combination. What was needed was to fill in the blanks with capable players.

This is where Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric come into play. Both players have played for winning teams and will help with the Suns’ learning curve. Now, it’s all about desire. Do the Suns wish to be like the New York Knicks and just throw money at anyone on the market? No. They’re taking young talent and adding some cheap veteran leadership to a team still building for the future. Is a championship in their sights this season? No. However, winning has to start somewhere and Phoenix believes that 2019 is the foundation.

Here are 5 bold predictions for the Phoenix Suns in 2019

Suns Will Easily Eclipse 2018 Win Total

The Suns made enough moves during the offseason to make sure there will not be a repeat of last season. Will they struggle? Yes. However, they will easily surpass the 19 wins from last season. While PG play was their biggest weakness, they solved that with the addition of Ricky Rubio. Dario Saric will bring offense, defense, and experience to a team in desperate need of all three.

If they can stay healthy, the Suns will hover around the 30-32 win mark. Yes, that’s a stretch from 19 wins but that team was decimated by injuries, a terrible rotation, and inconsistent play. The Suns will be better than the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and others so why not an increase in wins? The talent is there, it’s just a matter of them coming together in Training Camp and becoming a team.

Ricky Rubio Will Average 10 Assists

There is no reason why Ricky Rubio can’t average 10 assists per game this coming season. Even with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rubio didn’t have this type of talent surrounding him. While with the Utah Jazz, the Jazz themselves were short in certain areas. However, this Suns team has every aspect it takes for a PG to succeed. Rubio dribbles with his head up always looking for a slashing teammate or one in position to take advantage of his defender.

Rubio is a pass-first type player. One of the few left in the NBA today. This will bode well for Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre. As far as post play, Dario Saric was at his best while with the Philadelphia 76ers due to the court awareness of PG Ben Simmons. The Suns’ big man Deandre Ayton should see an increase in his numbers with a player known for getting the ball in sweet spots. Last season, the Suns ranked 20th in assists. With Rubio at the helm, they will finish around the 12th mark.

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Dario Saric Will Prove His Worth

The X-Factor for the Suns season will be Dario Saric. While with the Philadelphia 76ers, Saric was robbed out of the ROY Award in 2017, then processed to bounce back while helping the 76ers to 52 wins the following season. That year, he averaged 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while shooting .453 percent from the floor. He was later traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with Robert Covington as the 76ers went all-in with Jimmy Butler. What that trades cost the 76ers was a top 5 defense and a possible championship.

Now with Phoenix and labeled as the starting PF, Saric will help the Suns stretch the floor while will allowing Ayton more room in the paint and Booker space to shoot. Saric can take his defender off the dribble, hit the open perimeter shot, and is a solid defensive player. If the turnaround is to begin this season, it will start with Saric.

Deandre Ayton Will Make A Huge Leap

A rookie season is one where mistakes will happen. But it’s also where promise will be shown. For Deandre Ayton, he went through a bit of both. Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting .585 percent from the floor. Great numbers for a player going against top-tier talent nightly in the paint. There were times where he committed unnecessary fouls or forced up shots he should’ve passed on but that’s a growing process.

Now armed with a PG, shots for Ayton should come easier. No need to force up ill-advised attempts or silly turnovers with Saric opposite him in the frontcourt. If his offensive game is not hitting, Ayton can change the outcome on the defensive side. The Suns are no longer an inside/outside combination. His touches should increase which will allow his scoring average to rise. With Saric and Oubre, he should see fewer bodies in the paint which means more rebounding opportunities. Ayton should be in store will for a 20/15 type season.

Suns Will Improve On Their Rebounding

What will make this Suns team dangerous will be their desire to hit the boards. Last season, Phoenix finished the year ranked 30th in total rebounds. With Ayton snatching 10.3 boards per game, the next closest to him was Trevor Ariza with 5.6. Those numbers will be a thing of the past in 2019. For starters, the Suns now have a frontcourt with size and length. Dario Saric has averaged 6.2 for his career and Kelly Obure averaged 4.9 for the Suns in limited action last season.

In the backcourt, it gets better for the Suns. Booker, while not an elite defender or rebounder, still managed to pull down 4.1 per game. Ricky Rubio for his career has snagged 4.2 per game. For the starters combined, that’s close to 30 rebounds for a team that averaged just 40 per game last season as a team. Defense wins championships and the Suns will begin to set their foundation by being consistent on the boards this coming season.