When the Phoenix Suns began the 2021-22 season with a slow 1-3
start, some national pundits were quick to question whether their
miraculous NBA Finals run was a mirage. But ever since that point,
you can't find a more dominant team in the Association than the one
residing in the Valley.
Phoenix has won 34 of their last 40 games. That’s absurd. And to
put it in more jaw-dropping terms, the second-best record over that
span belongs to Golden State, with 13 losses. So, the Suns not only
have been playing outstanding basketball over the last two-plus
months, but they’re beginning to lap the competition while doing
Since Oct. 28, the day after the Suns lost to the Sacramento
Kings on a miraculous buzzer-beater from Harrison Barnes, here’s
how they rank in advanced metrics league-wide: 112.8 Offensive
Rating (4th), 103.2 Defensive Rating (2nd), +9.6 Net Rating (1st).
During this span — stretching nearly the entire regular season,
sans the opening week of play — Phoenix is the only team carrying a
top-five offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Suns are also historically elite in clutch situations this
season. Phoenix carries a 15-3 record in the clutch, including
shooting almost 60% (59.2%) overall in these crutical moments.
Incredibly enough, after we last checked in on this, the Suns are
still miles ahead in terms of outscoring opponents per 100
possesions in the clutch at +42.7 NetRtg.
As long as the Suns have two of the most clutch scorers in the
NBA right now in Chris Paul and Devin Booker, plus a rotisserie of
depth around them, it's hard to not feel confident with the game on
It’s still incredible to think about how the Suns used to be
viewed in league circles only just a few short years ago. Phoenix
was trotting out lineups headlined by lottery busts Josh Jackson,
Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss around Booker. Now, Booker is
flanked by a concise unit of players that best suits his superstar
Kudos to Suns GM James Jones, because the job he has done since
taking over full-time in 2018 has been nothing short of
Phoenix not only has the star power with their dynamic backcourt
duo of Booker and Paul, but their young core continues to blossom
as well. Mikal Bridges is well on his way to a All-Defense nod,
while also adding endless sharpshooting equity. Deandre Ayton has
once again proved he’s worthy of a rookie-scale max contract
extension whenever he’s been on the floor. Cameron Johnson is
becoming a key cog in the Suns’ machine, who is likely earning his
own lucrative payday.
On top of these five players, look at all of the win-now
veterans littered throughout Phoenix’s rotation: Jae Crowder,
JaVale McGee, Cameron Payne, Landry Shamet, Bismack Biyombo. And
look out for the Suns to be active leading up to February’s trade
deadline, as well as the buyout market for veterans wanting to
chase a championship. There’s not a more attractive destination
right now to pursue an NBA Finals berth than Phoenix.
The Suns have built a perfectly balanced rotation that brings a
multitude of strengths to the table, which is by design, from the
minds of Jones and head coach Monty Williams.
As the Suns continue racking up impressive wins night after
night, they are well past the laughingstock stage they experienced
for almost a decade post-Seven Seconds or Less era, headlined by
two-time MVP Steve Nash. Instead, these new Suns are potentially
leapfrogging the most successful chapters of team history.
When surveying the landscape in the Western Conference, Phoenix
has the best case of any team to make a repeat Finals trip.
Golden State is their most realistic threat, but we’ve seen in
multiple matchups between the two this season where Phoenix can
attack them at will, with no issue. Memphis is an up-and-coming
team who is actually right on the Warriors’ heels since Halloween
for overall record, but it’s wait-and-see mode to find out if this
continues toward a deep postseason push.
Utah is another team who could throw the Suns some potential
roadblocks, but they’ve been maddeningly inconsistent as of late.
Could Denver be an underrated team to monitor, especially with
Nikola Jokic’s dominance and Jamal Murray’s looming return around
Putting each team up against the Suns, it’s hard to find a way
an opponent can beat them in a seven-game series. They have the
stars, the depth, the head coach. Everything is firing on all
cylinders in Phoenix right now — which makes it even scarier if
they were to find another win-now piece to add to their already
strong bench in the lead-up to the postseason.
Welcome to a new golden era of Suns basketball. It took a while
to get here, and maybe the franchise had some embarrassing rock
bottoms along the way, but this team may be headed to another peak
for the title-starved city of Phoenix.
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