Upcoming games (real games!)
(season opener) 10/26/2010 @ Portland, 7 p.m., My45
10/28/2010 @ Utah, 7:30 p.m., TNT

Last year, when I did my West Preview for the Suns Spot, I picked the Suns to finish third. Well, sort of. Basically, I just gave a mini-breakdown of what teams I believed to be toward the top of the Western Conference and how the Suns compared to them. With the 2010-2011 season just mere days away, it’s time to do the same this year.

First, let me start by saying the Suns will make the playoffs. Unless Phoenix suffers multiple, lengthy injuries, they’re definitely in the top eight out West, no question about that. Lots of people around the league and locally are saying the Suns will struggle and be lucky to be the eighth seed, with most figuring them to miss the postseason altogether. Those people are wrong. This team is too talented and too deep to miss the playoffs.

Photo by Barry Gossage/Getty Images

Where the Suns will finish seeding wise is where things get difficult. The West should be a very tight race again this year. As much as I hate to say it, barring any major injury to Kobe Bryant, the Lakers will finish with the best record in the West. After that, everything is up for grabs. The Suns could finish as high as number two. I honestly believe that. If they gel early, this team can be very lethal.

The Oklahoma Thunder have become the fun pick — the one most are picking to finish in the two spot, or at least contend for it. They could. They might. I don’t know that they’re quite there yet. Kevin Durant is certainly a top-three player in the Association and can carry a team; I’m just not sure they’ll be that much improved to make that big of a leap.

Lots of people are excited about the Dallas Mavericks and I’m not sure why. They’ll probably have a solid regular season but fold early in postseason play. The acquisition of Tyson Chandler is an OK one, but the team is probably best with Brendan Haywood on the floor. Chandler’s numbers have continued to go down, and it’s safe to say he’ll get injured at some point.

Utah and Portland are tough to gauge. You can never count the Jazz out with Jerry Sloan coaching, but for some reason they just don’t concern me. Sure, they’ve had a great preseason, but it’s just that — preseason. If healthy, the Trail Blazers could make a run for the number two seed, but odds are they finish somewhere in the four-to-seven range, as the injury bug always seems to find those guys.

The last two teams I expect to round out the West’s top eight are San Antonio and Denver (maybe). The Spurs could probably finish the regular season higher, but that’s just not their style. This is probably their last season to make any real noise with the current Duncan-Manu-Parker-led team, but I wouldn’t expect any of that until playoff time. They could still coast and finish in the upper four, but I expect them to finish five to seven.

The Nuggets are a team that has a ton of question marks. If they keep Carmelo Anthony, I would expect them to make the playoffs for sure, but still be in the lower half. If they trade Anthony, which odds say they will, they’ll probably struggle and fight for the eighth seed with the likes of the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets.

So, there you have it: the Suns Spot mini-breakdown. Not saying exactly where I think the Suns will finish, but if things go as well as I think they can, then they’ll be better than the Utahs, Portlands, San Antonios and Denvers of the world and compete with the Thunder and Mavericks. If they struggle, then who knows. Either way, we’ll start to find out come Tuesday.

Watch the Suns for free

Tomorrow, Saturday October 23, the Suns will host their annual open scrimmage to the public at US Airways Center. The scrimmage is free of charge and starts at 10 a.m. In addition to getting a glimpse at the new-look Suns, fans will have the opportunity to take advantage of some great ticket deals at the box office.