When it comes to the NBA, expect the unexpected.
The stunning three-team blockbuster paired Lillard with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and saw a fellow title contender also shake up its roster. As part of the deal, the Phoenix Suns shipped out Deandre Ayton, along with 2023 second-round pick Toumani Camara, in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.
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The Suns' roster has undergone a near-full makeover since last season's trade deadline, when they pulled off a shocking blockbuster of their own for Kevin Durant. Phoenix then acquired star Bradley Beal and signed several players in free agency before moving on from a player who was once viewed as a franchise cornerstone in Ayton.
So what could new head coach Frank Vogel's starting lineup and rotation look like come opening night against ex-Sun Chris Paul and the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center?
First, let's take an updated look at Phoenix's roster following the Ayton trade:
Guards: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Josh Okogie, Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Damion Lee, Jordan Goodwin, Keon Johnson, Saben Lee
Forwards: Kevin Durant, Nassir Little, Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop, Bol Bol, Ish Wainright
Centers: Jusuf Nurkic, Drew Eubanks, Chimezie Metu, Udoka Azubuike
It's safe to say that Nurkic along with the Big Three of Durant, Booker and Beal are locks to start. That leaves one spot open with a ton of sensible options to fill it.
The most intriguing choices are one returning player in Josh Okogie and three newcomers in Allen, Little and Eric Gordon. Okogie, who made 26 starts amid a strong first season in Phoenix, and Little are the more defensive options, while Gordon and Allen provide spacing and scoring. Given that the Suns already have three elite scorers in their starting five, Little and Okogie may have the upper hand.
Let's say Okogie wins the starting spot in training camp and Phoenix opens the season with Booker, Beal, Okogie, Durant and Nurkic on the floor. Vogel then has Gordon, Allen, Little, Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop and Drew Eubanks as his top players off the bench (with Bol Bol as a wild card).
Is that team good enough to come out of the West and challenge for a championship?