The Phoenix Suns Look to Have the Next Big Three in the West
Since Devin Booker’s arrival in 2015 as a rookie, the Phoenix Suns have gone 121-280 in a five-year span. A sub-par .432% win percentage has not been ideal so far in Booker’s early career. The Suns have failed to make the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, last time the Suns made the playoffs was in 2009-2010 with two-time MVP Steve Nash. In those five seasons, the Suns have seen four different head coaches as the franchise has struggled to emerge as a playoff contender in the highly competitive west. At the end of last season, the Suns were red hot going 8-0 as the only undefeated team in the bubble. Showing promise as a potential threat beating the superior teams such as Dallas Mavericks twice and the eventual Finals-bound Miami Heat.
Devin Booker had an incredible run while in the bubble playing like a superstar averaging 30.5 PPG, 4.6 REB, 6 AST on 50.1% field goal percentage in eight games. Including a wild game-winning shot over Paul George against the Los Angeles Clippers. In the 2019-20 season Booker earned his first All-Star appearance, averaging 26.6 PPG, 4.2 REB, 6.5 AST while shooting 91.9% percent on the free-throw line. Booker continues to grow each year of his career and remains one of the best shooters in the league. As the leader of the Suns, they have always seemed to be one piece away from becoming a top tier team with lots of young talent on the roster.
One of those pieces to help Devin Booker has been big man DeAndre Ayton at Center. The second-year Ayton has proven to bring some star power to the Suns, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds in his first two seasons. Last season Ayton improved to 18.2 PPG, 11.5 REB, and 1.5 BLK per game. Ayton provides great rim protection and is a good finisher around the basket. Unfortunately, Ayton only played 38 games last season because of a 25 game suspension by the league for the violation of improper drug use that would hurt the Suns in the long run. As the Suns went 8-0 in the bubble, but because of their lack of wins during the regular season, they were short of reaching the postseason. When playing through Ayton is a valuable asset to the Suns' success of the future.
The newly acquired All-Star Point Guard Chris Paul via a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sending Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a 2022 first-round pick to the Thunder. The Suns also picked up forward Abdel Nader alongside Paul in the deal. The 15-year veteran is fresh off of an MVP like a season in which Paul was seventh in MVP voting. Taking the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs in a red hot finish in the second half of the season. Reaching further than most expected, taking the Houston Rockets to a seven-game series in the first round. Paul earned his tenth All-Star nod last season while averaging 17.6 PPG, 6.7 AST, 5 REB, and 1.6 STL. With the addition of Paul, this will be Booker’s first All-Star teammate he’s ever had. Now with two on the roster, the Suns are in position for more offensive efficiency as Paul has established himself as a great passing-scoring Point Guard through his illustrious Hall of Fame career. Paul is also one of the best defensive Point Guards in the league the multi-time All-Defensive Team nominee provides good defensive play despite only being six-feet tall. Paul also brings veteran leadership to Phoenix, as the Suns have one of the youngest teams in the league. Despite being 35 years old and one year left on his contract with a potential additional year with his player option, Paul has proven that he can still play at a high level. With how well he played leading the Thunder last season without other All-Stars players on the team, Paul should fit in well alongside Ayton and Booker. Next season the Suns could have three All-Stars if all three continue to play and they have so far.
Sharing the load offensively with Paul should lift the burden off of Booker. One area of concern on this roster is their reserves. Backups like Cameron Payne, Frank Kaminsky III, and Cheick Diallo do not jump off the page. Capitalizing in the draft is huge for a young team like the Suns. As the Suns do not attract big-name superstars like Los Angeles or Boston building through the draft as they have is the best thing they can do. Hopefully, additional assets can come in and help come off the bench because a big three is nothing without a good bench. Expect the Suns to improve and potentially make their way into the playoffs. The talent is there, the young core surrounded by veterans are there in place. This is the best looking Suns team since Steve Nash back in the 2000s, it is a great time to be a Suns fan.