With only one more year before lottery reform kicks in and flattens out draft odds for the worst NBA teams, this season is the last chance for dead-end teams to max out their odds of nabbing the number-one pick. We may be in for another furious tank-off between rival ghost ships, and last night, one of the most hatefully bad teams in the NBA submitted their application for worst team in the league emphatic fashion.
The Phoenix Suns celebrated the start of their 50th anniversary season by rolling over and playing dead for the Blazers, who were more than happy to give them a historic defeat. The Suns lost 124-76, which is both the largest-ever margin of defeat in franchise history, as well as the worst opening-day loss by any team in NBA history. The numbers are ugly.
Portland held Phoenix to 31.5 percent shooting; Portland outrebounded Phoenix 57-33; Pat Connaughton scored a career-high 24 points with disarming ease, hitting threes, fooling Phoenix bigs around the hoop, and generally looking like the second coming of Jesus Christ compared to the limp, soggy guard play the Suns offered up; at one point in the third quarter, Portland led 118-60; they did this all without their second-best player.
Their only highlight from last night was the way they ran together in eery synchronicity.
The Suns at least have two players worth a damn, as Devin Booker remains cool and good and Josh Jackson looked sprightly and fearless last night (he, uh, hit a three! I dunno, it’s what passes for a highlight.) If you sort of squint at the roster, there are enough youths and formerly good veterans that you could fool yourself into thinking this team should at least be intriguing. They are not intriguing. The Suns looked like a farm team against the Blazers. Eric Bledsoe would just sort of drive into nowhere, and every big guy on the team looked like a frail little twig man trying to stop Jusuf Nurkic or Caleb Swanigan or literally anyone who got into the paint. It just looked easy.
The hope for this season, I suppose, is to ship out Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler, who have no purpose on this team, for whatever potpourri of young players and draft picks they can still garner on the open market and really make a go with Booker and Jackson at the center of the team. Maybe they can build a team in a few years that way. But who cares! They suck! Go ahead and ignore them this year.