The 2019-20 Phoenix Suns are nothing like we’ve seen in years. This isn’t a team that’s going to roll over and fold anymore. When a team goes on a run, Phoenix is going to throw their own haymaker right back. These types of qualities have laid dormant in the Valley as the coaching turnstile reached peak altitude.
Luckily, Monty Williams seems to have finally solved the longstanding coaching puzzle. Kudos to Suns GM James Jones as well. This team made puzzling moves to get to where they are now, but it’s certainly working. Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes have more than outplayed their early season expectations thus far.
Once again, the Phoenix Suns defeated another team poised to make noise in the playoffs this spring. Does that mean the Suns will be contending for a playoff spot throughout the season? I’m about ready to push my chips in on that question with another emphatic statement Sunday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
As usual, here are my ‘Thumbs Up’ and ‘Thumbs Down’ from tonight’s game. No surprise, but not too many negatives in this one. Since it was in blowout fashion, ‘Thumbs Down’ was avoided altogether.
Thumbs Up = Ricky Rubio
Rubio dazzled tonight going for 22 points, 12 assists, and 2 steals on 10-for-16 shooting. When Rubio gets in rhythm, this Suns team is hard to stop.
The ability to control the pace on both ends of the court hasn’t existed for Phoenix since Steve Nash at the point guard position. Rubio now allows this team to stabilize when it’s needed.
Somehow, someway, the Rubio move was universally criticized by national media. However, the value Rubio has on this team is already being proven tenfold. In Williams’ system, Rubio might be a top 10 point guard.
Thumbs Up = Devin Booker
What can we say about Booker anymore? He’s officially taken the leap from star to superstar in Year 5. Booker nonchalantly went off for 27 points and 9 assists while being plus-40 in the plus-minus category.
Having good teammates around him has done wonders for Booker’s all-around game. Also, it’s helping Booker get the well-deserved national praise. Right now, Booker not only is on pace for an All-Star berth but All-NBA as well.
Booker is still shooting 50/50/90 this season, continuing to be the only player doing that. If you need someone to take over, Booker is the guy. The Suns’ superstar guard is good enough to lead this team to a playoff berth.
Thumbs Up = Aron Baynes
Baynes only played 18 minutes, but what an impact he made over that short timeframe. Stuffing the stat sheet with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks, Baynes once again proved why he’s one of the most improved players in the league.
Yes, Baynes should be in contention for Most Improved Player at this point in time.
The way Baynes is able to impact the game outside the box score is vital, too. Creating havoc with charges and stonewalling drivers at the basket is a hidden key to the Suns’ defensive success.
If this production keeps up, I wonder what the Suns will do once Deandre Ayton is back from his suspension next month. Do you really take Baynes out of the starting lineup at this rate?
Thumbs Up = Cameron Johnson
The first real scoring explosion from Cam Johnson was a treat to watch. The Suns’ No. 11 overall pick finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on 6-for-10 shooting in 20 minutes. That’s what you call making a profound impact.
Johnson is quickly carving out a solidified role in the Suns’ rotation at this rate. The defense is better than expected and the shooting is definitely legit. How will Williams be able to take that off the floor for long stretches?
Able to play multiple positions, Johnson will continue to see his playing time rise throughout the season.
Others who had strong outings — Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tyler Johnson — also deserve mention here tonight.
Now, the Suns are 6-3 on the season. Did you know this is Phoenix’s best start in nine years?
It’s official, welcome to a new era of Phoenix Suns basketball. Another blowout victory was the proverbial stamp of authority.