Phoenix Suns: Can the Suns survive without Chris Paul?

Phoenix Suns Chris Paul (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns Chris Paul (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

What impact will Chris Paul’s injury have on the Phoenix Suns’ championship chances? 

For the majority of the season, the Phoenix Suns have clearly been the best team in the league. It’s not just that they have had the best record; the Suns have been overwhelming and dominating in many of their wins.

At the All-Star break, the Suns are 48-10 and have a 6.5 game lead over the second-seeded Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. However, they’re going to be tested (to a significant extent) for what feels like the first time this season.

Chris Paul, one of the team’s key components to their success in their NBA Finals run last year and so far this season, is slated to be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a thumb injury. If he takes all eight weeks to heal from the injury, that places his projected return date right at the start of the playoffs.

That means there’s a high likelihood that the Suns won’t have Paul again until mid-April. While it would be unlikely for the Suns, with as talented as they are, even without Paul in the lineup, to drop 6.5 games in the standings over the course of the final 24 games of the season, there’s no question that this injury could have lingering effects into the postseason.

For one, there’s not even a guarantee that Paul will be back for the start of the playoffs. The original reports said that Paul will be re-evaluated in 6-8 weeks. That reporting suggests that there’s a chance he could miss more time, just as there’s a chance he could miss less than the full allotted time.

Either way, there’s a chance that Paul could not be back for the start of the postseason. And that would add intrigue to a potential first-round series for the Suns. Especially if they were to face a team such as the Los Angeles Lakers.

During his second season with the Suns, Paul is averaging 15 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds per game on 49 percent shooting from the field. He’s been the third-leading scorer on the team and the primary playmaker. No one on the team is averaging more than 4.5 assists per game this season.

Considering his injury history, it’s actually quite amazing that Paul hadn’t missed a game so far this season. All that is now out the door, but he’s expected to be back at some point this season.

Whether the Suns will be able to pick up where they left off with a healthy Paul remains to be seen. And it’s actually quite a shame. The Suns were on pace to probably be the overwhelming favorites to win the championship this season.

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Even though not all of that should be thrown out the window entirely, I believe there’s now a slightly bigger slimmer of hope for every other team in the Western Conference right now.