We have a lot of references to the Suns 2007-08 season around here lately. That’s the last time the Suns have had such a good record after 30 games, and it’s also the last time the Suns acquired a player who was a current All-Star before the trade and stayed an All-Star after the trade.
In spring 2008, even after starting the season 21-9 (and eventually 37-16 before swinging the fateful Shawn Marion-for-Shaq trade), the Suns acquired 14-time All-Star Shaquille O’Neal at the ripe old age of 35. He made one more All-Star game his first full season after coming to Phoenix before gradually fading into the sunset and eventually mumbling his way onto Inside the NBA.
Now in 2020-21, the Suns acquired 10-time All-Star Chris Paul at the ripe old age of 35. And yesterday he was named to his 11th All-Star game after the Suns started the season with a stellar 20-10 record after 30 games.
Chris Paul absolutely, positively, deserves to be named an All-Star this year. Right along with teammate Devin Booker. There does NOT have to be just one. Six other teams got 2+ All-Stars and only half of those have a better record than the Suns.
- Utah Jazz, 25-6, 2 All-Stars (Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell)
- LA Clippers, 23-10, 2 All-Stars (Paul George, Kawhi Leonard)
- LA Lakers, 22-10, 2 All-Stars (LeBron James, Anthony Davis)
- Phoenix Suns, 20-10, 1 All-Star (Chris Paul)
- Philadelphia 76ers, 21-11, 2 All-Stars (Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons)
- Brooklyn Nets, 21-12, 3 All-Stars (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden)
Was anyone snubbed from any of those other teams? No? No.
But I digress. While we are lamenting the un-selection of Devin Booker, we cannot lose sight of the brilliance of having point god Chris Paul in our midst.
Our six-year obsession with getting Devin Booker the recognition he deserves cannot distract us from enjoying the prize that dropped in our laps a few months ago when CP3 angled his way to the Suns to play for Monty Williams and alongside young Devin Booker.
Let us revel in this moment, in this season of the Phoenix Suns rising from the ashes in the hands of one of the best players of this generation, and arguably THE best point guard.
The Phoenix Suns have a history of really good point guards — to the tune of 13 All-Star nods in a 23-year span from 1990-2012 that went from Kevin Johnson (three-time All-Star in a Suns uniform) to Jason Kidd (three times) to Stephon Marbury (one time) to Steve ‘Two Time’ Nash (six times). From 2012-19, we went through the driest of dry spells, but the last two years have been fun again. I loved Ricky Rubio running point last year.
Now we get another star at the point guard position in Chris Paul, who has now made 11 All-Star teams in 16 seasons. What’s remarkable about Paul is that he IS the system, evidenced by the fact that those All-Star nods came with four different teams — New Orleans Hornets (4), LA Clippers (5), Oklahoma City Thunder (1) and Phoenix Suns (1 so far). His only non-All-Star team? The Houston Rockets, the one with whom he came closest to an NBA Finals.
That brings up another similarity of Chris Paul to Suns lore. In their 53 year history, the Suns have never won a championship despite making the playoffs in 29 of those years. A couple of times, injuries and unusual circumstances derailed the Suns’ run at the worst possible moment. In 15 years as one of the best players of his generation, including 11 playoff appearances, Paul has never won a championship either. And like the Suns, untimely injuries and unusual circumstances contributed to coming up short.
This year might be different for both the Suns and Chris Paul.
They are playing incredibly good basketball. They have the 4th best record in the league so far. They are one of only three teams with both a top-10 offense AND a top-10 defense (Jazz, Bucks). And they have the league’s third-best record against winning teams (11-4), behind only the Jazz (12-4) and Nets (11-2).
Playoffs are not just a hope, they are an expectation. And once the Suns get into the playoffs, they have the moxie and personnel to beat anyone in a series.
Chris Paul has helped Devin Booker — who’d already carried the Suns to the edge of the playoffs a year ago with lesser talent around him — revive the Suns franchise, making them a contender again for the first time since the Steve Nash days.
He wanted to come here. He worked the system to get himself traded to Phoenix, specifically to help Devin Booker and his old coach Monty Williams get back to the vaunted playoff picture.
This Suns team is better than last year’s OKC team that Paul carried to a 5th seed and a 7-game playoff series before succumbing to the Rockets. In that series, he averaged 21 points, 5.3 assists. 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. The Thunder roster just wasn’t actually built to succeed. His game-7 starting lineup included Steven Adams, an aged Danilo Gallinari (5 points), second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie undrafted free agent Lu Dort.
Chris Paul deserves the All-Star recognition, and our faith and trust.
Enjoy the ride, Suns fans!
Here’s a great video from our own occasional contributor Sam Cooper, posted to his Timeline YouTube channel on why Chris Paul deserves the All-Star nod as a Phoenix Sun.