The Phoenix Suns could win the Western Conference.
A couple of months ago, when the Phoenix Suns were not falling off in the Western Conference standings, many were quick to recognize the team as the biggest surprise in the NBA. And they were an easy team to rally behind.
The Suns emerged as the lovable feel-good story in the league but still weren’t – and likely haven’t – gotten the same respect as some of the other contenders in the West. With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Suns are no longer just the league’s best feel-good stories. They’re a legit contender to win the West and make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
A few weeks ago, I was bullish on this team’s chances as a contender and a threat to the defending champs. That was mostly due to the fact that I believed the Suns would fade over the last quarter of the season.
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That simply hasn’t happened. In fact, you can make the case that the Suns have only gotten stronger. This team hasn’t relented and has even created some separation between them and the third-seeded LA Clippers. In fact, with the Utah Jazz somewhat struggling after losing Donovan Mitchell to injury, there’s a chance that the Suns finish as the 1-seed entering the playoffs.
It’s time to believe in the Phoenix Suns
Generally speaking, and historically, you would doubt a team such as the Suns. After all, this is a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season. That said, the jump was already evident in the restart bubble last year.
Phoenix went 8-0 in the restart bubble despite not making the playoffs. We were already seeing signs of development from this team even before the splash acquisition of Chris Paul during the offseason.
Devin Booker lit the bubble on fire as he continued to develop into a budding superstar and the addition of Paul this season has successfully taken some of the pressure off of Booker while allowing him to grow and develop as a leader behind a proven winner in the NBA.
That’s the big difference with this Suns’ team. While they’re still technically a young and rising team in the West, there are a couple of veterans that can help give this team in the playoffs. Apart from Paul, Jae Crowder is another player that will add valuable playoff experience to this roster.
Crowder played a vital role for the Miami Heat in their run to the NBA Finals last year and will be equally as valuable for the Suns. Paul and Crowder will give the Suns much-needed leadership in the playoffs and Booker will give the team the superstar that it takes to make a deep run in the postseason.
If Booker is the real deal – and there’s no reason to believe that he isn’t – this year’s playoff run is going to be his true coming-out party.
Especially in a West where the Los Angeles Lakers are still not completely healthy and where you don’t know what to think of the Utah Jazz, who has sat atop the conference for the majority of the year, this could be the year for the unknown in the playoffs.
And in a year of unknown, the Suns could absolutely take advantage. The Suns are a threat. It’s time we recognize that.