The Phoenix Suns shocked the NBA in 2021, advancing all the way to the NBA Finals after going a decade without qualifying for the playoffs.
The Suns eventually lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 4-2 in the Finals — but energized a fanbase that had been virtually devoid of reasons for optimism.
Fast forward three months and the Suns are back, kicking off the 2021-22 regular season against the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m. Arizona time on Oct. 20 on ESPN.
Suns Among NBA Title Frontrunners
Arizona sports gambling sites see Phoenix as a real threat in this year’s title chase.
The Suns enter the 2021-22 NBA regular season with the fifth-best NBA championship odds (+1500) per BetMGM Arizona.
BetMGM gives the Suns the third-best odds of winning the NBA’s Western Conference in 2022 at +700, ranking behind the Los Angeles Lakers (+170) and Golden State Warriors (+425).
Caesars Sportsbook also gives the Suns +1500 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship, which ranks in a tie for fifth in the 30-team league behind the Brooklyn Nets (+230), Lakers (+400), Bucks (+800) and Warriors (+1000).
At FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona, the Suns have +1500 odds to win the franchise’s first NBA title, ranking behind the Nets (+250), Lakers (+400), Bucks (+800) and Warriors (+1200). The Utah Jazz are also +1500.
DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona has the Suns at +1500 to win it all, tied with the Clippers, ranking behind the Nets (+205), Lakers (+400), Bucks (+650), Warriors (+1200) and Jazz (+1400).
Devin Booker’s MVP Odds
Another bet to keep an eye on in 2021-22 is the likelihood of Devin Booker becoming the third Suns player to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.
Booker enters the season with some of the best odds to do just that, with DraftKings Sportsbook listing the former Kentucky Wildcat in a tie for 11th at +2500.
FanDuel Sportsbook gives Booker +2800 odds of winning an MVP, ranking in a tie for 12th.
Caesars Sportsbook has Booker at +2500 to win the MVP, which puts him in a tie for 11th with Anthony Davis.
Key Decisions Loom Large for Suns in 2022
Suns general manager James Jones has a bevy of big-time decisions on his plate as the 2021-22 season starts.
Chief among them is whether Jones and the Suns will sign former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton to a rookie extension before the end of the regular season.
Ayton came into his own during the team’s postseason run, averaging 11.8 rebounds and 15.8 points per game, while cementing his place in Phoenix's rotation.
The former Arizona Wildcats star is eligible to sign a five-year, $172.5 million extension with the Suns if he signs during the season.
Discussions between Ayton, Jones and Suns owner Robert Sarver have hit a snag, per ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, with reports saying Suns’ front office types are reluctant to offer Ayton a max deal at this point in his career.
Ayton would qualify as a restricted free agent at season’s end, meaning the Suns can match any offers made by other teams.
Besides Ayton, Jones and the Suns must decide their plans for forward Mikal Bridges, who also hits the free agent market in 2022.
Bridges qualifies for a max extension of 5 years, $173 million this season, but has yet to come close to a deal with the franchise, according to Wojnarowski.
What’s New with the Suns?
Jones and the Suns front office made a few deals during the offseason, including a trade for Nets guard Landry Shamet and signing Chasson Randle and JaVale McGee as free agents.
Shamet averaged 9.3 points and 1.6 assists per game with Brooklyn in 2020-21, hitting just over 40% of his field goals and 84% of his free throws during the season.
Randle averaged 6.5 points and 1.8 assists per game for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2020, with the 28-year-old Stanford alum providing depth at the guard position for head coach Monty Williams.
Whether the team’s new additions will get the Suns over the hump and into championship contention is yet to be determined.
The Suns are among the oddsmakers' favorites for the 2021-22 NBA title, so experts seem to like the team’s chances of building on the potential shown during its NBA Finals run a year ago.