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Game preview: San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns

The Spurs can get a new road win streak started tonight against the Suns.

NBA: Preseason-San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are well on its way to another mid-lottery pick in next year’s draft as they trudge the through the next few seasons to reach the Steve Nash Era heights.

It’ll be a long, drawn-out process to sift through the morass to build a legitimate team from scratch.

In the meantime, let’s revel in the fact that Phoenix — while not a good basketball team — is a fun basketball team.

It starts with Eric Bledsoe, who is currently healthy (huge for him) and playing All-Star caliber basketball through one-fourth of the season. Bledsoe is averaging 23.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.9 3-pointers while shooting 45.2 percent from the field in his last 10 games. He’s one of five players in the league averaging 20-5-5 per game. Bledsoe is fantastic but his health has held him back from reaching the next level. He missed 51 games in the 2015-16 season and 39 games in the 2013-14 season — representing 37 percent of his games in the last three seasons.

Bledsoe is flanked by 20-year-old phenom Devin Booker (18.4 points per game), T.J. Warren (17.7 points per game) and Brandon Knight (12.9 points per game). And it’s no surprise that Phoenix is second in the NBA in pace because of its perimeter-oriented roster construction. The Suns are averaging 103.8 possessions per 48 minutes, nearly five possessions more than this year’s league average.

That means the Suns have a lot of opportunities to score — hence its 107.1 points per game mark — but that also entails defending the opposition more often. Phoenix plays an uptempo brand of basketball, while boasting a bottom 10 unit in offensive and defensive efficiency.

Look at the roster and it’s easy to see why. Phoenix doesn’t have the pieces in place to contend for a playoff spot anytime soon. Dragan Bender (fourth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft) and Marquese Chriss (eighth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft) join a frontcourt with an aging Tyson Chandler and an underperforming Alex Len, who was a top-five pick just three seasons ago. Tyler Ulis, a second-rounder in this year’s draft, is a fun player but he was drafted to a team with a total logjam in the backcourt so his path to playing time is muddy.

Phoenix has the young talent in place to get better, but the team’s trajectory doesn’t fit around Bledsoe’s timeline. He’s 27 and in his prime on a team that is a long-term project. A trade — whether it’s flipping Bledsoe, Knight or someone else in the backcourt -- might be in order for this team to truly bottom-out, nab a top player in the 2017 draft and accelerate the rebuilding process.

Until then, we should expect San Antonio to win handily Thursday night, score often and win the battle of the boards against a team that is far away from its intended destination.


Vegas line: Unavailable.

Game prediction: Spurs by 14.

For the Suns fans' perspective, visit Bright Side Of The Sun.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.