Suns finally looking like the real deal
When the Phoenix Suns drafted Devin Booker in 2015 they had gone five straight seasons without making the playoffs, in the five seasons since drafting Booker they have not managed a winning season but heading into the 2021 All-Star break they sit on a record of 24-11, good enough for second place in the Western Conference and the second best record in the entire NBA.
2019/20 was the first season where the Suns showed signs of life since drafting Booker thanks to the addition of veteran Ricky Rubio to run the offense led by D-Book & 2018 No.1 pick, DeAndre Ayton. The Suns finished the season 34-39 after going 8-0 in 'The Bubble' but it still wasn't good enough for a return to the playoffs losing out to Memphis due to head to head record. This past off-season the Suns went about improving on their veteran presence by adding Chris Paul & Jae Crowder (who went to the finals with Miami last season) to their young core and these moves have had just the impact that was intended.
CP3 showed he was still a forced to be reckoned with in the NBA last season when he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading them to a playoff berth and helping to bring out the best in OKC's young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Now he's in Arizona and having much the same impact on a young team, who look well placed to have their first winning season since 2014 & earn their first playoff appearance since 2010.
The Suns appear on the road to success and the stats back up that feeling, they currently rank third in both opponents points per game (107.1) and defensive rating (109.0), they finished in the bottom half of the league in both categories last season and this defensive improvement has not hinder their offense as they sit in the top 10 in offensive rating.
Monty Williams had a solid start as Suns head coach and his second season is showing that Phoenix made the right call making him HC in 2019. One key for the team has been the impact of some of the role players on the team. Seven players on the team are averaging above 10 points a game including, Jae Crowder, Dario Saric, Cameron Johnson & Mikal Bridges, who is also one of four players on the team shooting above 40% from three. Phoenix is no longer a group of individuals built around a couple of potential stars, this is now a team and with Chris Paul acting as coach & coordinator on the court and Devin Booker finding his best form they show no signs of slowing down.
Defensive improvements have been crucial to the Suns great start with Paul & Ayton leading the way and driving the likes of Booker & Bridges to improve their defensive games. In what has been a difficult decade for the Suns, since the break up of the Amar'e Stoudemire, Steve Nash led team of the late 2000's, they appear to finally be coming out on the right side of demise.
The Suns now have a defensive bedrock and potential pick & roll dynamo in DeAndre Ayton, Chris Paul, a veteran guard with elite ball handling & passing and a dead-eye scorer & potential all round superstar in Devin Booker. Pair that with great coaching, quality role players and some efficient three point shooting, it all adds up to a very bright future in Phoenix.