The Phoenix Suns previously had a Cinderella run to the 2020-21 NBA Finals only to succumb to the Milwaukee Bucks on a 4-2 series loss. This time around, Monty Williams’ squad is raring to get back to the championship stage as they have climbed to the top of the Western Conference with a league-best 58-14 record. Winners of five straight games, the Suns are looking to gain strong momentum heading to the tail-end of the 2021-22 regular season before entering the playoffs.
Certainly enough, there are also other strong contenders for the title in both conferences with the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, and the defending champion in the Bucks. However, this Suns team has also shown that they are ready to go all the way to the NBA Finals and finally win it all this season.
With that said, let’s take a look at three reasons why the Suns can successfully secure the title come the 2022 NBA Finals.
3. Loaded roster
The main reason why the Suns were able to reach last year’s NBA Finals was because of their deep bench. This season, their role players and bench mob will once again play a huge role in determining the level of success that they will attain this season.
Aside from the trio of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, the team still has the likes of Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges who are both excellent defenders on the wings. Third-year player in Cam Johnson has also stepped up and increased his per-game averages across all major statistical categories.
They also have sparkplugs in Cameron Payne, Aaron Holiday, Torrey Craig, and Elfrid Payton who can provide timely contributions on the floor when needed. One of the biggest additions to their squad would be JaVale McGee. The big man was brought in via free agency and has been complementing well with Ayton in the paint. Landry Shamet’s arrival via trade also served as a huge boost for the Suns’ offense, particularly with his smooth shooting from beyond the arc.
From the looks of it, this Suns team has improved and is seemingly better on paper as compared to the roster that they had a year ago. Without a doubt, Phoenix has all the tools needed in order to have a deep playoff run and eventually vie for the title this season.
2. Prove-it season for Deandre Ayton
In the previous offseason, several players from the 2018 draft class have inked lucrative contract extensions with their respective teams namely Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Michael Porter Jr. Deandre Ayton also hoped to sign his own max contract with the Suns though both sides failed to reach an agreement prior to last year’s deadline.
With this, the Bahamian center will now have to prove his worth to the team’s front office and show that he is indeed deserving of the paycheck that he was asking for. This season, Ayton has improved his scoring with 17.0 points per game and has been shooting better with a career-best 65.6% from the field in 51 appearances.
Currently, Ayton is now playing in the final year of his rookie contract and will become a restricted free agent by the end of the 2021-22 season. If he manages to sustain his good showing and have big games in the upcoming playoffs then he will surely increase his chances of being signed to a huge contract extension in the summer.
1. Backcourt duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker
Deciding to trade for Chris Paul prior to the 2020-21 season has been a franchise-altering move for the Suns. His arrival has provided a veteran presence to a young team that needed leadership in their locker room. With his solid playmaking, his running mate in Devin Booker has been able to focus on scoring which is also his calling card ever since he entered the league.
Their deep playoff run last year proved just how effective the Chris Paul-Devin Booker duo has been for the Suns. This season, the veteran point guard is now averaging fewer points but has been leading the league with a career-best 10.7 assists per game. Paul has also been doing damage on defense as he averages 1.9 steals in 58 games played.
Booker, on the other hand, continues to show that he is one of the league’s best scorers with 25.9 points on 50.2% shooting from the field per game. He is also tallying a career-best 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists this season. Without a doubt, both players have formed better chemistry after a year of playing together.
The Suns will definitely be hard to stop if both Chris Paul and Devin Booker will be playing at their best come playoff time. Barring any injuries to their key players, Monty Williams and his men are looking well on their way to having another deep postseason run this time around. If the team sustains their winning momentum for the rest of their campaign then they will definitely have a legitimate chance at winning it all when it’s all said and done.