Phoenix Suns posted a franchise record and league-best 64-18 overall record last season but fell short in the playoffs, losing out in seven games to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round.
The Suns had gone into the season seeking to reach the Finals Series for the second year in a row and for the majority of the campaign it looked as if they might be able to claim a first ever championship for the Phoenix outfit.
However, they suffered a dramatic drop in form during the postseason as they dropped two games against a New Orleans Pelicans side who were missing their best player, before being dumped out by a Luca Doncic-inspired Mavs.
The Suns will feel they have a real chance of going all the way in 2022-23, but they need to make sure they peak at the right time after last season's disappointment.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||October 18th 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||BOS Celtics +700, GS Warriors +600, LA Clippers +700, MIL Bucks +650, BKN Nets +700|
Phoenix have kept their core intact going into the new season and their biggest move during the offseason was re-signing center Deandre Ayton to a new deal.
Ayton was unable to agree a contract extension with Phoenix during the previous campaign and became a restricted free agent during the summer.
In July, he signed a $133million four-year offer sheet with the ambitious Indiana Pacers, the largest in league history, but the Suns quickly matched that and he was signed to a multi-year contract with Phoenix.
The Bahamian voiced his frustration at his contract situation at various intervals last season but still managed to deliver on the court. Now he is fully settled with the Suns, that could see him raise his levels even further and the 24-year-old could be in line for a huge campaign.
Ayton is yet to receive his first All-Star call up and on a personal level that will be one of his goals for the season ahead, although the ultimate target is of course attempting to lead the Suns to a championship.
A championship would be huge for the Suns, and there will be no player within their squad hungrier to claim a ring than evergreen point guard Chris Paul.
Widely regarded as one of the best in his position in history, Paul is yet to claim the top prize in the NBA and after turning 37 earlier this year time is no longer on his side.
The former Los Angeles Clippers star is still performing at an elite level and he led the league in assists for the fifth time in his career last season, averaging 10.8 per-game, and he remains crucial to Phoenix's hopes.
Paul has never been a player that has relied on his physical attributes too heavily and in terms of his overall skillset he remains one of the best point guards in the NBA, so there is no reason not to expect another big season from the veteran.
There were no Suns players who particularly impressed in the playoffs last season, but shooting guard Devin Booker may feel he has to answer his critics in the coming season.
Booker, 25, averaged a solid 23.3 points-per-game, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the postseason last term - but those were all down on his regular season numbers and on his stats from the previous year when the Suns reached the Finals.
Booker, Paul, Ayton, Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges will be the Suns starting lineup next season and that team should be a match for any rival in the NBA.
Monty Williams won the Coach of the Year award last season and the Suns have all the ingredients and quality to take the top prize, but the key is making sure they hit form at the right time after last season's postseason struggles.
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The Suns have a chance to make a statement in their season opener as they entertain the Mavs, meaning they have a chance to take some revenge on the team who ended their championship hopes last term.
Phoenix then come up against Portland Trail Blazers before back-to-back games against key conference rivals in the shape of Los Angeles Clippers (a) and champions Golden State Warriors (h).
Anything other than a deep run in the playoffs would have to be considered a disappointment for this talented Phoenix side and they are +900 to win the championship outright.
The Suns are +350 to dominate the regular season once again and claim the #1 seed in the West, while Booker is a +2800 chance to win the MVP award.
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