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Can Phoenix's offseason moves make them a contender in the West?

(Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns have been a disaster for about a decade now. They’ve only had one winning record in the past ten seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since Steve Nash was still on the team. Those ten years have also seen a revolving door of head coaches, with seven. There’s no sugarcoating it. They’ve been irrelevant on the NBA landscape for years now. However, with all of that being said, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Suns. Their 8-0 performance in the NBA bubble was eye opening, and their offseason moves following it, put this team in a position to be successful for the first time in a while.

When the 2020 season was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suns were 26-39 sitting at 13th place in the loaded Western Conference. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton didn’t have their mojo together to this point; due largely to the fact that Ayton missed 25 games of the season because of a suspension. Their 26-39 record wasn’t ideal, but it was enough for the Suns to barely qualify for the NBA bubble restart in Orlando. Entering the bubble, most experts around the league expected the Suns to be one of the quieter teams in the bubble. Some were even scratching their heads at the fact that they were even in the bubble. This is when Devin Booker erupted.

The Suns needed to win all eight of their games in the bubble to even have a shot at competing in the playoffs. This would be tough, considering every game in the bubble would be against one of the league’s top teams. The Suns came out and shocked the world, going 8-0 in the NBA restart. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be enough to get them to the playoffs, as they did not control their own destiny. Although they missed the playoffs, there are still many positives to take away from their time in Orlando. Devin Booker proved to the NBA world that he is the real deal.

During the eight games he played in the bubble, Booker averaged 30 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds a game. While also delivering an 8-0 record and 94% shooting from the free throw line. Booker proved that he can be a leader of a successful playoff bound basketball team, and the Suns as a whole proved this core can win meaningful games in this league.

Although their bubble success was very exciting, not many NBA experts thought much of it other than a team getting hot at the right time. Suns management thought otherwise. They viewed their bubble run as flashes of greatness that they could look to build upon in the offseason. They went out and made the best deal of the offseason by acquiring 10 time all-star guard Chris Paul from the Thunder. OKC was blowing up their team, and the Suns capitalized. This is exactly the missing piece that this Suns team needed. Chris Paul has been successful in this league everywhere he’s gone. People forget the Rockets held a 3-2 lead on the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in 2018 before Paul got hurt and missed games 6 and 7. The Warriors came back to win the series.

Last season was the prime example of why Chris Paul is the perfect fit for these Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul got put on a bad team, and made the best with what he had. He took a team of below average young NBA talent and led them to the fifth seed in a loaded western conference. Nobody thought the Thunder would make any noise last season, but Chris Paul made them a very competitive basketball team. He’s going to have the same effect with this Phoenix Suns team. The Suns have surrounded their stars with solid role players as well. One signing that went highly under the rada, was when they signed forward Jae Crowder. Crowder played a big role for the Miami Heat in their playoff run last season. He is a perfect 3 and D player for this Suns ball club. His defensive toughness, surrounded by skilled bench players in Dario Saric and Jevon Carter, make for a well rounded roster with some depth.

After about a decade of mediocrity, it seems Suns management has finally figured it out. They’ve done a great job of drafting young talent in guys such as Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Cam Johnson. They also finally found a coach that fits this roster in Monty Williams. It seemed evident that the players really bought into Monty Williams coaching philosophy last season in the bubble. They are starting to build a strong culture in Phoenix. The Suns showed this by going 8-0 against the league's best in last season’s NBA bubble restart. Those young guys seem to be panning out, so they went out and paired them with some solid veterans. Then they went out and got a star veteran point guard to lead them. Chris Paul is a natural born leader. He knows how to get the most out of his teammates. He proved that especially last season with the work he did with the Oklahoma City Thunder. If veterans Chris Paul and Jae Crowder can mesh well with this young core, along with head coach Monty Williams leading the way, the sky's the limit for this up and coming Phoenix Suns team.


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