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Could Baynes tuneup in FIBA lead to Suns turn around?

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Olympics: Basketball-Men’s Team-Bronze medal match -AUS vs ESP David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports

Superstars across the league have been uploading their summer workout videos to Twitter and Instagram to much fanfare across their social media outlets. We’ve all seen Ben Simmons working on his jumper, Devin Booker dominating open gym to such an extent that the only way defenders could stop him was to send surprise double teams his way, and DSJ and Aaron Gordon having a dunk off. All of that is fine and good but in reality, gym workouts really don’t hold a candle to competitive in game action.

That’s why Suns fans should pay extra attention to the upcoming FIBA World Cup which will feature star point guard Ricky Rubio as well as Phoenix’s prized new big man, Aron Baynes.

Baynes in particular has a chance to truly shine. Back in 2014, he led Australia in scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game, which was good enough for 10th overall in the entire tournament, ahead of the likes of James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Pablo Prigioni.

This was before Baynes had developed into the lethal three point shooter he is today. Baynes built on this breakout FIBA performance by setting a career high in points and FG% in the NBA season that followed while also helping the Spurs to a 55-27 record.

As we fast forward to 2019, look for Aron Baynes to dominate the tournament once again. He suffered through an injury plagued 2019 season with the Celtics and the season as whole ended in disappointment so the FIBA tournament is his first real shot at redemption.

So far, Baynes has been living up to the hype. In the exhibition games leading up to the FIBA World Cup, Baynes took down the Nick Nurse coached Canada squad and was instrumental in Australia’s epic win over the United States. The Australia victory also marked the first Team USA defeat in nearly 13 years.

Australia will be in Group H where they will be matched up once again with Canada, Senegal, and Lithuania. Lithuania in particular should be a fascinating matchup, where we will see Baynes go head to head with NBA stars Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis.

If Australia survives their group, Aron Baynes will potentially face off against more of the top players in the league including Nikola Jokic, Marc Gasol, the aforementioned Ricky Rubio, Cedi Osman, Kemba Walker, and of course, league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

We know all of these players will be going all out competing for their shot at FIBA immortality.

The bottom line: anyone can work on their game in the offseason by practicing against inanimate objects and training with over the top workouts but nothing gets a player prepared for an NBA Finals run quite like competing in real games against the best competition in the world. History backs this up. Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook played in the 2010 tournament and they reached the Western Conference Finals together for the first time that next season. They made the Finals a year later. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson spent their 2014 summer competing in the FIBA World Cup and they became NBA champions that year.

What all this means for the Suns is that with key offseason acquisitions Aron Baynes and Ricky Rubio participating in this year’s FIBA World Cup, Phoenix could soon very well rise again. Wow.