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The Suns will have a target on their back all season

The Suns have proven themselves as legitimate contenders. With that comes responsibility.

NBA: Finals-Phoenix Suns at Milwaukee Bucks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret anymore. The Phoenix Suns are very good.

The Suns are coming straight off a run to the NBA Finals after finishing with the 2nd best record in the NBA a season ago. They are still a fairly young team outside of its veteran cogs in Chris Paul and Jae Crowder (JaVale McGee has also entered the chat).

So, what does this mean? For the first time in a lot of these players’ careers (minus the three vets), they will have teams get “up” to play them.


Preparation

Along with teams getting up for them, they will have to deal with teams scouting their key role players much more in-depth than they might’ve last season. Cam Payne is one prime example of this, as he figures to draw a lot more attention from opposing coaching staffs.

Phoenix has a very detail-oriented coaching staff that makes adjustments on the fly and has shown to be innovative so expect counters to these reports all year long.

Their greatest strength right now is continuity, there’s no doubt about that. It will help them gut out wins over teams, especially early on in the season while other teams figure to be behind the curve in team chemistry.

That being said, the Suns in the past had always been the type of team to show up against elite opponents hoping to make a “statement” win. This year, Phoenix will be on the other side of that coin and when you factor in how frequently they’ll be on National TV (34 times) you can see that they’re not going to be sneaking up on people this year.

I’m not all that concerned with letdown games on National TV or against contenders, but it’s those midseason games against teams like Orlando or Cleveland that they need to be careful of. Avoiding dropping the occasional “trap game” is nearly impossible... it happens every year to every team multiple times.

Doing the little things well will be vital. Monty Williams sure holds them accountable in this regard, so I’m not worried in the least bit about it being an issue.

The goal should be to make them extremely rare occurrences because dropping 3-4 “scheduled wins” can obviously be the difference between homecourt advantage or not. We all saw how important home-court advantage was during the playoffs last year.

Suns Rotation Pieces in order by age

We’ll stick with the top 10 guys at the moment:

  • Chris Paul- 36
  • JaVale McGee- 33
  • Jae Crowder- 31
  • Abdel Nader- 28
  • Cam Payne- 27
  • Cam Johnson- 25
  • Mikal Bridges- 25
  • Devin Booker- 24
  • Landry Shamet- 24
  • Deandre Ayton- 23

While it’s not the youngest team in the NBA by any stretch, when looking at your typical contender they are certainly on the younger side of things. The Bubble and playoff run(s) were both great for their maturity and development, but now how will they respond in an 82-game season after such a short turnaround?

The hope (and expectation) is that the hype doesn’t get to their heads. I don’t think Monty Williams will let it, and by all accounts, their collective “not satisfied” attitude indicates it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Either way, I believe this “target” on their back will be a good thing for the teams’ overall development and maturity process. It will only make them better, especially come playoff time.

The more battles, the better.