Though the Suns are just below .500 in their past 20-plus games thanks to the impact of Deandre Ayton, they’ve been unable to make up ground in the playoff race, and Suns fans are taking notice.
In this week’s FanPulse results, there was a nearly unanimous consensus that the Suns — six games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference — are finished. That’s not to say the rest of the season is useless. Simply seeing what happens with Ayton, or how Kelly Oubre Jr. maintains his impressive scoring streak, or what comes of the three rookies on the team, all make the final 30 games worthwhile. But a playoff push is unlikely.
On the other hand, we do have the All-Star game to look forward to. Don’t look now, but Brandon Ingram is dealing with an ankle sprain just a week ahead of All-Star. Ingram missed Saturday night’s game, so there’s a small chance this minor injury could linger long enough for Booker to take his spot in the game.
Regardless, eyes will be on this year’s game because of the rule changes implemented this month.
To put it as simply as possible:
- The score will reset after each of the first three quarters, with the winning side of each quarter earning $100,000 toward the charity of its choice.
- To honor Kobe Bryant, the final quarter will feature a race toward the winning team’s score plus 24. That means, for example, if the West was up, 100-95, after three quarters, the two teams would race to 124 (which is 100 + Kobe’s 24).
- The final winning team will earn another $200,000.
However, FanPulsers across the country are split on whether this will make the game better or worse.
I’m actually of the belief that the All-Star game has always followed the same general pattern. The whole roster gets some playing time for the first half, then over the course of the second half, the guys start to take it more seriously until all of a sudden, the final period is a genuinely cutthroat endeavor.
What will make this year’s game a bit worse, in my estimation, are the injuries to players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and others. When you have an All-Star game with Rudy Gobert, Domantas Sabonis and Brandon Ingram, something weird has happened.