After turning heads in the bubble last season by going 8-0, the Phoenix Suns are looking to make a splash in the west this season.
Phoenix have won nine out of their last 10 games, and are currently on a six-game win streak. During this streak, the Suns have beaten the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics as well. Currently sitting in the fourth seed, head coach Monty Williams and company are looking for Phoenix’s first playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. With that being said, there are some questions to be asked. What’s changed in Phoenix, and how far can they go if they make the playoffs?
The first thing to highlight is the hiring of head coach Monty Williams, which ended the Suns’ coaching carousel. Since 2015, Phoenix has gone through four different head coaches. With a track record like that, you can see why this team has struggled over the years. When you’re constantly changing coaches, you can’t establish a culture or a system going forward. It seems that the franchise has finally found some stability with Monty Williams at the helm.
During his time in Phoenix, Williams has been able to implement his “0.5 Second Offense,” a unique system that needs quick decision making to run smoothly. A fast-paced system like this requires every player on the roster to buy in. Over two seasons, Williams has gotten them to do just that. A system like this is a no-brainer for guys like Devin Booker and Chris Paul; their offensive makeups allow them to thrive. The simplicity of the system allows the game to come easier to young players like Jalen Smith and Cameron Johnson. Getting them to make plays early on will help take the pressure off and allow them to grow going forward. Williams will look to get the best out of his players in this system, along with drafting, trading and signing players to take things to the next level.
The Suns front office has done an excellent job balancing the roster by singing and trading for veteran players. Phoenix signed Frank Kaminsky in 2019 and forward Jae Crowder this season, but the biggest move would have to be trading for Chris Paul. Last season, Phoenix saw how Paul was able to take the Thunder to the playoffs. Not only that, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander thrived while playing with Paul, averaging a career-high 19 points per game last season. The Suns were looking to provide depth to their backcourt and give their young talent Devin Booker a mentor. Signing Paul did just that.
Playing in his sixteenth season, CP3 is still going strong. He’s currently averaging 16 points and eight assists while being Phoenix’s floor general. His guidance for young players on and off the court will be beneficial for the franchise going forward. He’s also built trust with Devin Booker. During a game against the Mavericks in early February, Paul found Booker for a game-winning three when he could’ve created his own shot. Both players have been working together on and off the court and it shows in crunch time plays like this. Their chemistry will continue to grow as they establish themselves as one of the top backcourts in the league.
So what’s next for the Suns? With the way they’re playing in Monty Williams’ system, I think they’re a lock for the playoffs. They could advance as far as the second round, but you have to take that in stride. With CP3 and a young nucleus of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, Phoenix fans have a bright future ahead of them. The only thing that they are lacking is another bonafide scorer, preferably a forward.
Someone they should keep on their radar is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Yes I know Giannis just resigned to the Bucks for big money, but he’s not going to win a ring with Milwaukee with the team he had around him unless something drastic happens. Why not come to a team with a solid nucleus and be the piece that takes them to the next level? Wishful thinking, but I think it’s possible going forward, especially if the Suns make the playoffs consistently.
Phoenix will be look to make it seven straight as they host the Brooklyn Nets tonight at 10 p.m.