Suns

Suns Finally Shining This Season

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The 2020-21 Phoenix Suns are off to a 6-2 start and share the top spot in the West with the big boys!

The impressive part? Not just that they are winning, but that none of this looks abnormal.

The word that comes to mind is workmanlike. A word we have not used in conjunction with the Suns for about ten years. They are winning not because Devin Booker is going nuts shooting threes or Chris Paul is dropping dimes all over the place. No, they are winning because they are just the better team on most nights. They win because they defend and execute. They win because they are deep and play with chemistry.

Paul Westphal would be proud of this team.

The Big Guns Will Fire Soon

The exciting part is it’s just a matter of time before Booker and CP3 start doing superstar stuff. That can only add to the top-line for this team. Of course, it will be needed against the top teams and definitely in the playoffs. For now, though, the team has enough in the tank to efficiently dispose of teams, even some good ones.

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They have a different tank now than what that word meant over the last several years. Ever since the Suns acquired Chris Paul coming out of a terrific bubble performance, the expectations have be trending up. Basically, the entire journey since the bubble has been one of efficient execution and organic growth. Winning comes with no shock and awe for these Suns and that’s a great place to be for any franchise!

Big 3 By The Numbers

  • Booker: 21.5 PPG/3.8 RPG/4.6 APG
  • Paul: 13.3 PPG/4.6 RPG/8.3 APG
  • Ayton: 13.4 PPG/11.4 RPG/1.0 BPG

None of these lines are truly eye-popping. In total, however, seven Suns are averaging double figures with Cameron Payne not far behind. That’s some elite depth and teamwork. This has been the secret behind their fairly easy wins against playoff-caliber Western Conference teams. The back-to-back wins at Utah and Denver last week were especially impressive. That’s a brutal two-step — even without fans — and Suns navigated it comfortably.

Bridge to the Future

How are the Suns doing this without depending heavily on Booker or CP3?

Those two have been clutch over the last few games, but the biggest story so far has been Mikal Bridges. We were all hoping he would be the perfect 3-and-D wing for the Suns. Mikal is proving us all right. His numbers were impressive in the bubble, but early this season, it’s bordering on the ridiculous– 14.0 PPG/5.4 RPG/1.4 BPG/46.8% FG/45.8% 3PT.

Most of those numbers don’t even capture his day job, which is to lock-up the best perimeter player on the other team. Mikal is the quintessential modern NBA player and will be the poster child for 3-and-D wings for years to come. Not to be left too far behind,

Cam Johnson has been terrific too. He is not quite the defender Mikal is, but he is still very good at his job, which is shooting threes. Cam is averaging 13.1 PPG (50.7 FG%) over 22.5 minutes off the bench and has one of the best +/- in the league so far. He has added some dribble-drive moves to his game as well and is getting some sixth-man-of-the-year buzz already. These two rangy wings have been the story so far.

Long Way to Go

The Suns don’t seem to have many holes and are not looking to trick their way into the playoffs.

They may just walk in there with authority.

Booker will only get more productive as we go along and CP3 will get more comfortable with time. Deandre Ayton is the other budding star and he has some ways to go before he hits his ceiling. If there has been one concern so far, it has been Ayton’s conditioning and consistency.

While he has been good and looks like a perfect fit around the other pieces, Phoenix would love to see more development from their former first pick. They sure are hoping he takes the next big leap in his growth this season. Even if he doesn’t and is just slightly better than last year, he will still be a big contributor to this team. They need him defensively.

Suns fans, though, will still be giddy at Mikal’s growth, who was in the same draft as Ayton. Not to mention the Johnson pick is another delightful cherry on top.

It’s early yet, but the Suns are here to stay. They have many pieces to this puzzle in place and won’t be a surprise for much longer. They will take their rightful spot in the loaded West and Monty Williams will have them ready for the challenges ahead. Lastly, we can’t forget all the solid work GM James Jones has done so far to get the Suns to this point. He may still have a move or two up his sleeve.

All things are aligned to keep the Suns hot this season.

About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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