The Phoenix Suns have been one of the best surprises of the 2020-21 NBA season thus far. Preseason expectations had them pegged as a potential playoff team thanks to the addition of long-time veteran and part-time middling franchise savior Chris Paul. However, most saw them simply fighting for one of the bottom seeds in a crowded Western Conference.
Fast forward to the end of the regular season, and the Suns finished with the second best record in the entire league. After taking down LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, the Suns have now won Games 1 and 2 to take a commanding series lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. The Valley has indeed Rallied.
NBA’s Best Cast Scenario: Phoenix Suns as Champions
Die-hard hoops fans in Arizona wouldn’t be the only ones who would benefit if the Suns manage to win it all this season. The Phoenix Suns taking the 2020-21 trophy would be a massive boon to the NBA itself.
Here are three (3) reasons why the NBA needs to be all in on PHX:
#3 Devin Booker joins NBA’s Elite
Few stars have improved their standing in the NBA as much as Devin Booker has this year. After five barren seasons leading the Suns to futile campaigns, Booker finally got a chance to showcase his scoring prowess on the biggest stage. To say that he did just that so far in these playoffs would be a gigantic understatement.
Book’s 47 points in Game 6 to put away the Lakers will forever go down in Phoenix Suns lore, no matter how this season ends. But if that game serves as a footnote in Booker’s run towards a Finals MVP, he could catapult himself into the conversation among the league’s marquee stars.
This would benefit the NBA greatly as Devin Booker is a supremely marketable player. He’s young, good-looking, and dating Kendall Jenner. Booker also has very real ties to the late, great Kobe Bryant, who not only gave him key pieces of advice, but also provided the mold for which he based his game on. Having one of the NBA’s brightest young stars buoying a small market club become widely popular is a gift Adam Silver wouldn’t turn down.
Bonus Reason: Devin Booker winning it all would also shatter the infamous Kardashian curse. Yes, Tristan Thompson also won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2016. But his career hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly ever since then.
#2 Chris Paul gets his Ring
Chris Paul has been the consummate professional throughout his 16-year NBA journey. He’s been able to create a winning culture in virtually every franchise he’s played for. With CP3 entering the twilight of his career, he seemed destined to fall into the list of legends and icons who made a massive impact on league history despite never winning it all.
But that all changes if the Suns can pull off a miraculous run at the title. Chris Paul already has an impressive list of accolades: 11-time All-Star, 9-time All-Defense, 9-time All-NBA, while also leading the league in both steals and assists numerous times. Adding an NBA title to that lengthy resume elevates Chris Paul’s status in the rich tapestry of the league. His argument as one of the greatest point guards of all time certainly gets a boost.
His place in the hierarchy of stars shifts dramatically with that coveted title under his belt. Icons like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett are widely celebrated for their one year of NBA playoff glory. This could be CP3’s year to do exactly that.
#1 The Suns’ Small Market Triumph
The Nets and the Suns represent contrasting styles of building a team. Brooklyn spent many years as bottom-feeders, before slowly building a solid foundation themselves. But instead of constructing a winning team with the players they groomed, such as D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie, they leveraged their massive market to become a hub where superstars can fulfill their fantasies of playing with one another. Some may argue that’s not the right way to do it, but all is well if they win it all, right?
Phoenix meanwhile went the long route, hitting and missing on draft picks until they found the right set of guys in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. Once their core was ready to contend, they swung big for a proven star in Chris Paul to right the ship. Despite not being an attractive free agent destination, the Suns have turned themselves into a small market juggernaut.
However, the Suns’ domination of the Nuggets through two contests doesn’t have anybody talking about them as the presumptive title favorites just yet. That title firmly belongs to the aforementioned Nets. After their own two games where Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led a James Harden-less demolition of the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s clear that the Nets might exist in a tier above everyone else as far as championship contenders go.
But this Phoenix Suns team clearly doesn’t play by the rules of the narrative. They showed exactly that when they dispatched the Lakers despite being considered the underdogs. If the Suns’ stars can match the firepower of the Nets side on the right nights, their edge in home-court advantage and team chemistry might be enough to get them past Brooklyn.
The Phoenix Suns as NBA champions would instill league-wide belief that any NBA team can really win the whole damn thing. Just a couple of years ago, the Suns were a laughing stock and Devin Booker was deemed not a winning player. Heck, they were saying that even after Phoenix went 8-0 in the bubble last year. They’re now 10 wins away from a title. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?