Yet one more reason to get excited about Bright Side Night, which is coming on January 14: it’s quite probably the next time the Phoenix Suns have a realistic chance to win a game.
Between now and January 14, the surprisingly competitive Suns face three of the top five seeds in the Western Conference.
Most of us are pleasantly surprised that this Suns team, focused entirely on developing its youth this year, has found a way to be competitive and good at closing out games both on the road and at home.
When the Suns came back to beat the Hawks, it was 20-year old Marquese Chriss with a monster block to preserve the lead while 21-year old Devin Booker scored eight points in the final 37 seconds.
Those are the kind of wins we need to see.
So it’s okay that this team already has 15 wins against 25 losses because none of the top seven players in minutes played this season is over 24 years old, and five of the seven are 22 and younger. That’s an average age of 21.5.
For perspective, last year’s Final Four in the NCAA Tournament were all older. Gonzaga’s starting lineup was 22.5 years old, North Carolina’s was just over 22 and Oregon’s was just under of 22 years old. South Carolina were the pups of the Final Four at 21.5 years old.
Jay Triano’s managing of minutes has been masterful. The count on Booker is misleading, considering he’s played 25% fewer games than the rest of them. But beyond Buckets and Booker, the next highest player in minutes is Tyler Ulis? He won't overplay the “old” guys. Jared Dudley, Tyson Chandler and Greg Monroe all take turns with their DNPs, and even when they play it’s not more than 25 minutes.
So we get to enjoy the wins this year because it’s on the kids to get them. And we’ve been fortunate to see them win 6 of their last 10 with mid-pack offense, defense and (refreshingly) assist rate.
But now reality sets in.
It’s probable that the Suns will be riding a four-game losing streak into that Bright Side Night game at home against Victor Oladipo’s Indiana Pacers.
And that’s totally okay.
The loss to Denver on Wednesday night was to be expected. Second night of a B2B while Denver was three-days rested.
Losing to the Spurs, Rockets and Thunder is fine too. I hope the losses are competitive, and that the Suns make them sweat a bit. And you know what, I have come to expect that will be the case.
These Suns won’t go quietly into that good night.
But night is coming nonetheless.