If you’ve been watching the Phoenix Suns recently, you’ll notice something different about this team. Something that’s strange: they’re winning.
Now, this isn’t a story that’ll tell you that the losing ways of the Suns are over forever and to buy tickets to the 2020 Finals. Top teams drop games all the time and this league is filled with the best basketball players in the world. A broken clock is right twice a day and a bad NBA team will win a game every once in a while. The team still has holes in its roster and failed to keep up with the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter Wednesday, losing 114-97, but this team is definitely showing progress.
Yes, it would’ve been better for the team if these wins came in November and December so they could’ve turned this dismal season around but that’s not how it worked this year thanks to injuries and poor planning by the front office. There’s also some people who think this run is actually hurting the Suns if it plays themselves out of Zion Williamson but that isn’t the case.
At this moment, the Suns have the second worst record in the NBA which gives them and the other two teams at the bottom (Cavs and Knicks) a 14% chance to land the first overall pick. The odds don’t change for the Suns as long as their record is still the third worst in the league. In fact, their odds only drop four percent if the Suns have the fifth worst record in the league. You don’t have the same incentive to tank as last year so throwing another season away just to tank with this young team is a waste.
Competing and winning games is the only course the Suns should take as it’s the only way these young pieces will ever grow and build a repertoire with each other and we can see recently the team growing together. No one was tweeting out #valleyboyz when the Suns were losing nearly every game from January to February and no one was having fun when the Suns were getting blown out.
What this run means is the team, and more importantly this core, is coming together. Devin Booker has look as healthy as he’s been all year and he’s been electric in this run, averaging 27.6 points per game while shooting 46% from the field on very difficult shots.
First overall pick Deandre Ayton just had his worst performance of the year, going one for nine shooting against Utah but he’s shown signs of improvement in defending, a weak point in his game coming into the NBA. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tyler Johnson bring a sense of accountability and veteranship that’s needed but can also give the Suns solid minutes on the court. Johnson especially since the team had no playable point guard to team up with Booker.
The team — especially the core of Booker, Ayton, MIkal Bridges, and Oubre — are coming together. And as we’ve seen from the Los Angeles Lakers this year, chemistry is vital to succeed in the league. Playing together makes that possible and winning games provides these young guys a chance to get a taste of success in a time when the Suns haven’t had it. Again, I don’t want to make it sound like this eight game run is the 27-0 run that the Warriors had in the 2015-16 season, but the Suns need to start somewhere to turn this franchise around.
Perhaps the best result of this run is the way free agents will look at this team. The Suns have been trying to sign big name free agents for years and some success has come their way but nothing to say this team is a free agent destination. If you’ve finished the season strong and the young talent on the team continues to grow, why would a free agent say no to signing here? The constant tinkering by the owner and the short life span of the front office would be a concern but wins buy people time and if the Suns continue this run, the positives can overlook the negatives.
The Phoenix Suns have looked like a real NBA team these last eight games and are playing to what their potential could be. If Phoenix can continue to build off this success, the rebuild might over sooner than anticipated.