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Identifying the Suns’ greatest strength entering the 2021-22 season

The other side of hard awaits.

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

Continuity.

con·ti·nu·i·ty

noun

1. the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.

The Phoenix Suns' number one strength heading into the regular season will be its continuity as a whole. The top 7 players in their rotation all returned, which is not a common occurrence for any competitive team.

Returning your entire starting five and top two bench pieces is rare and should give you a competitive advantage purely from a chemistry perspective with all the reps they’ve put in together. There’s a good chance they’ll be able to say the same thing heading into the 22-23 season as well.

They won’t have to go through the early-season growing pains they experienced last year, as they started off with an uninspiring 8-8 record as they figured each other out.

Notable losses: Willie Green, Torrey Craig, Jevon Carter, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Riccardo Fois.

Familiarity

Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges will be going into their 4th season together. That feels crazy to type out and read, but it’s true.

Cam Johnson has played 2 seasons with that group. Cam Payne was in the bubble with them so while technically it’s barely his second season in Phoenix, in a way it’s partially his third.

Chris Paul and Jae Crowder are the veterans that had to be integrated into the system last year, and it went about as smoothly as you could imagine. Abdel Nader has also only been here one season, but it’ll be his third straight year with CP3 and he seems to have found a home in Phoenix.

Dario Saric would qualify for this list as well, but he will be out for the season, unfortunately. Frank Kaminsky is also a guy that’s been around the system for 2+ years now. Jalen Smith will also be in his second year in the system, even if he doesn’t figure to be a key contributor right away.

The bottom line is, the players want to be here and have... been here. When a good team doesn’t deal with a massive amount of turnover, typically it leads to a very strong regular season and eventually playoff run after going through those battles. Health will obviously be the major key come crunch time.

Incorporating the new guys

What makes this team even more dangerous is that the new key additions they brought in are seamless fits. The transition process for new players can be difficult if they are high-usage stars or demand the ball, but in Phoenix’s case, both Landry Shamet and JaVale McGee know exactly what their role will be.

Landry Shamet can take on those Jevon Carter, Langston Galloway, and E’Twuan Moore minutes plus fill in for CP3/Book should they need a night or rest or miss some time due to injuries, protocols, etc. The grind of an 82-game season will open up the door for opportunities throughout.

I talked about his fit in Phoenix in this video below if you want more expanded thoughts that I think fit right into this discussion:

JaVale McGee’s role will never change. He is a rim-running, rim-protecting big that can come in for anywhere from 10-20 minutes a night and give you quality minutes and size. He is the exact type of change of pace big they needed for certain situations last season, so I was happy to see them ink him. I also put this video together on him talking about why he’s such a perfect backup center to Deandre Ayton.

Conclusion

Monty Williams knows exactly what he’s getting into this season and probably already has a fairly solid idea of what his rotation will look like from day one. When you’re less worried about personnel, it opens the door to focus on more important items on the preseason checklist such as schemes, plays, experimenting with new looks, etc.

I’m excited to see this team come together, and expect them to jump out of the gates hot due to their familiarity and chemistry that has been built over the years. First, the perfect Bubble run, then an NBA Finals run. What’s next?


Disclaimer: If they trade for Thaddeus Young, that will take some time to incorporate him and shake up the rotation a bit. He is a fairly low-maintenance plug-and-play guy though, so it’s not a major concern in my opinion.