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Grading the Phoenix Suns’ 2021 NBA offseason

Suns, Chris Paul, Monty Williams

The Phoenix Suns didn’t do much to shake up their roster in the offseason. After losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 Finals, they’ve only added Landry Shamet, JaVale McGee, Elfrid Payton and re-signed Frank Kaminsky and Cam Payne. It seems that the reigning Western Conference champions are content with running it back—which is a risk on it’s own. 

The short offseason could be a factor 

Remember, the Suns are going to come off a really short offseason. Based on the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics (four teams that made it to the conference finals last playoffs) the short break played a part on their injuries. These four teams ended up bouncing out of the playoffs early. Hopefully no injuries happen to the Suns, but this is where running it back could be dangerous. 

Questionable change on the frontcourt

The Suns also should have done something about their frontcourt. That’s their weakness and one of the reasons why Giannis Antetokounmpo looked dominant in the Finals. Is adding a 33-year-old McGee really the answer to their problems? Remember that McGee was benched by the Lakers in 2020 after the first round. It’s uncertain if he’s the best player to put out there in important playoff games. 

Still no third reliable All-Star

The Suns may have made it as far as the finals, but it’s important to consider how their opponents have improved if they plan to run it back. The Lakers, whom they defeated in the first round, added Russell Westbrook alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets may be dealing with their own injuries, but there’s the Golden State Warriors who are expected to be complete once again.

In the Eastern Conference, there’s of course the championship favorites Brooklyn Nets, then the Milwaukee Bucks and more improved Miami Heat team. It’s easy to assume that they can all beat the Suns in a playoff series given their roster upgrades this offseason. The Suns, meanwhile, could be making the mistake of relying once again on Devin Booker and an aging Chris Paul, who didn’t seem like himself towards the latter part of the playoffs. 

Can the role players step up again?

The Suns arguably have one of the most reliable role players in Joe Crowder, Cam Payne, Mikal Bridges and even Deandre Ayton (if he is still considered a role player). It’s the reason why they were so fun to watch last year–playing team basketball at its finest. But could this year be the season where they regress? 

Towards the latter part of the Finals, it seemed like these role players were fading away. It’s hard to blame them, especially with the fact that they have to show up all the time. That’s why some teams prefer adding a third All-Star who can carry the load on some nights. It’s going to be interesting to see how these role players perform given the shortened offseason. 

Overall grade: B-

Personally, there’s not much to like about the Suns’ quiet offseason. No disrespect to Suns fans, but the team just didn’t add much to a roster that’s planning to do what they failed to do last season—win a championship. The Suns just don’t seem scary enough, unlike teams like the Nets, Lakers and even the Warriors (when healthy and complete). But maybe the Suns can prove the doubters wrong and shock the world like they did in 2020-21. 

Nonetheless, it sure doesn’t look like that adding Shamet, McGee and Payton are the answers to win a championship in this superstar-loaded league right now.