As our very own John Voita just wrote the Suns did not rewarded for their very good offseason with Christmas Day game or opening night national game. If you haven’t read it, do that first. He doesn’t disappoint. His work is literally a canvas of art.
Long story short, the team was snubbed as their Twitter account was quick to tell you. Suns fans expect the league to give “The Fellas” some love. GM James Jones has built one of the best teams (albeit on paper for now) this franchise has ever seen and easily THE BEST in a decade.
However, as John also said, an 8-0 run in the bubble and a fiery off season does not instantly erase the joke that this franchise was around the NBA through distant memory. These Suns will have to, and I’m absolutely sure they will, earn their respect and big games on the schedule. This team will need to let their play do the talking as they face the challenge of being expected to perform in the deep West against some serious competition.
About that consolation prize, the Suns will play on night two of the NBA schedule and it will be nationally televised on ESPN. That’s a subtle nod by the league and this squad needs to take advantage of that. Also, it will be against one of those other strong teams in the Dallas Mavericks.
This game will have more than its fair share of story lines. Let’s take a look.
Chris Paul’s First Suns Game
An All-Star last season, most players only wish they could be as good as CP3 at 35 years old. He was brought in to mentor the youth, make life easier on Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton and help get this franchise back into the playoffs. Before this game, fans could only imagine what that would look like. Now, we will be able to actually watch it happen. Seeing him in a Suns jersey dishing some highlight passes will start the season off right.
Ayton VS Doncic
Right or wrong, this will probably always be a thing. Luka is the wonder kid and is off to a great start to his career as one of the best players in the league. Deandre was drafted one spot ahead of him in 2018 and so this will always be a story. No, DA isn’t averaging close to a triple-double but he is a very solid player and fans hope he made another leap this year. It would be so nice to see that on the court in the first game of the season. Here’s a stat for you. Since the draft, when the Suns and Mavs face each other and both these guys play, Phoenix is 5-1 with a +78-point differential.
Book VS Luka
Suns fans have known for a long time that Devin Booker is a very special player but sadly he didn’t really get much recognition until the 8-0 Bubble Run. No discredit to Luka as he is also a very special player but anyone that says Doncic is hands down better is just plain wrong. Book is starting to get credit now because he is finally having a good team around him and this season’s Suns will be the best crew he’s had since he entered the NBA. It’s time for him to show the league just who he truly is. Like Monty Williams recently stated, he wants Devin to be in the All-NBA and MVP conversation. Booker will have to win these matchups if he wants others to feel the same way.
In their matchups so far, the Suns are 4-1 as a team. How about head to head?
Booker 28.4 points 6.6 assists 5 rebounds, +66 plus-minus
Luka 26.2 points 7.2 rebounds 5.6 assists, -36 plus-minus
Jae Crowder VS Mavs
He was the biggest free agent signing this off season for the team and the best they’ve inked in quite some time. Jae wanted to be here and he chose the Suns over multiple suitors, including Dallas who also offered him more money. Crowder also played on the Mavs before so this was a big deal for Phoenix. Now, he has to face his former team and show them what they missed out on in free agency.
First Game At Recently Renovated Arena
This one would likely be a whole lot more exciting if it wasn’t for the Covid-19 pandemic and the arena having to stay empty of fans for a while. One of the oldest arenas in the NBA (27 years old) that hadn’t been remodeled, just underwent a true transformation this summer (nod to Lindsey Smith). Labeled “Project 201: PHX Reimagined,” the $230 million Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation project is being performed in two stages: some will be unveiled for the 2020-21 season and the second phase is set for the 2021-22 season.
Again, there will be a lot of story lines in this game which will be on national television. These are what stick out to me. What do you say, Suns fans?