Phoenix Suns 2021 NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: Chris Paul’s Addition Raises the Floor
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns.
Suns Win Total Odds
The Case for the Over
The Suns added an All-NBA player in the offseason and few teams did that. Paul is a wash vs. Ricky Rubio as a defender and passer, and an upgrade as a scorer. His gravity will open up things offensively without costing them defensively.
Phoenix had a Pythagorean win percentage of .507 vs. an actual win percentage of .466 last season; they underperformed relative to expectation.
The losses they suffered (Kelly Oubre, Aron Baynes) should be compensated for with internal growth from Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Deandre Ayton. They added veteran wings with Jae Crowder and E’Twaun Moore and kept Dario Saric.
The Suns finished 15th in SRS (Basketball Reference’s Simple Rating System that factors strength of schedule vs. point differential) just behind Indiana and ahead of the Pelicans. They finished 12th in Offensive Rating and 17th in Defensive Rating. Even before their 8-0 run in the bubble, they were 16th and 19th, respectively, in offense and defense.
Phoenix was also beset with injuries last season. Their starting unit of Rubio, Oubre, Booker, Bridges, and Ayton had the sixth-best net rating in the league (minimum 20 games played, at least 50 minutes played). But they only appeared in 21 games together. Rubio played just 65 games, Oubre just 56, Baynes just 42, and Ayton just 38.
Paul is older but sturdier; he rarely misses games and keeps himself at a high physical level. Devin Booker is primed for an All-Star season, and Ayton should be better after his development last season.
The Suns are considered to be a sleeping giant and Paul is the alarm clock that wakes them up.
The Case for the Under
The Suns should have been better last season, but they weren’t. They were 4-8 in games decided by three points or fewer, and just 20-18 vs. teams under .500. You need a better mark vs. the bad teams to make it to a playoff team, and Phoenix was only so-so.
The Suns lost some depth. Oubre was excellent for them. Baynes was crucial for providing frontcourt defensive experience. They’re counting on younger players, who make more mistakes. They have no real frontcourt depth, especially behind Ayton. He won’t be suspended for 25 games like last year, but an ankle sprain could cost them the over.
Chris Paul was sensational last year, true Point God throwback stuff.
But here’s 2018-19 CP3 compared to Ricky Rubio last season. pic.twitter.com/fe0DOTAowC
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 25, 2020
Now, that was Paul in one of his worst years vs. Rubio at one of his best. But it was also Paul when he was deferring to Harden in much the way he’ll be asked or need to defer to Booker. My point with that tweet is not that Paul is not an upgrade. But to buy in, you need to believe that Paul is worth a five-game jump.
The Suns’ win percentage at PointsBet before free agency was .457, which in a 72-game season is 32.9. After free agency including the Paul trade, it moved to 38. That number isn’t moving on Jae Crowder and E’Twaun Moore. It’s not moving on internal improvement because internal regression has to be somewhat present in any hypothetical.
Is Chris Paul, at age 35 going 36, worth a 15% improvement in wins, and 7% of the total available wins?
Or, is Chris Paul worth 15% improvement in wins through what he helps Booker and Ayton with?
If Paul suffers an injury, the backup point guard is Cameron Payne who was incredible in the bubble but doesn’t have a career to back that stretch up as sustainable.
Phoenix Suns Win Total Bet
It’s a soft lean to the over.
I have this right around 39. Mostly this is “are you sure the Suns are going to be over .500?”
Chris Paul hasn’t been on a sub.500 team at season’s end since 2010, which after COVID-19 is actually 8,000 years ago. The Suns haven’t been over .500 at season’s end since 2014. So something’s got to give.
Honestly, I’m hoping this number gets bet up a little higher to bet the under. There’s just a lot of faith in the Suns because of their 8-0 run in the bubble which ignores how many young players are still on this squad.
I loved the Suns’ over last year, one that would have cashed. They were a veteran team and veteran teams raise the baseline capability of the team. This team still has more actual NBA players on it than two years ago, and certainly, Paul helps.
But this team is also very delicately built. If Paul goes down, they’re almost definitely going under. If Ayton misses time, same deal. Ironically, Booker, their best player, may not be as essential to their over given their depth and versatility in scoring.
I was hoping this number would be up closer to 41. I think there’s a little value on the over below 40.