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New NBA awards come a year too late for the Phoenix Suns

The new Clutch, Conference Finals MVP and Best Regular Season Records awards all come too late for Phoenix Suns

2021 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v LA Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

I am not a big fan of adding more meaningless trophies that players and teams can aspire to win, especially given how the last two years have panned out for the Phoenix Suns.

As Suns fans know all too well, leading the league in regular season wins guarantees you nothing but one extra game at home in the playoffs. Leading the league in ‘clutch’ time during the regular season gets you nothing either, if you can’t keep it up in the playoffs.

Yet those are two new awards being given out by the league, starting in 2023, as part of massive redesign of the whole trophy case by the NBA. Read more about at that link, if you haven’t already seen this story in five other places before now.

I’m here to share what these new trophies mean to the Phoenix Suns franchise.

The “Jerry West Trophy” for Clutch Player of the Year

For years, Suns point guard Chris Paul has been one of the league’s best clutch players. Last season, Paul was by far the league’s best clutch player with a +115 points in 89.9 total clutch minutes (minutes within 5 points in the last 5 minutes). The Suns as a team were so good in the clutch a year ago that they will forever have all five starters among the 6 best clutch performers in 2021-22.

CP3 also did the same thing for the 2019-20 OKC Thunder, getting the whole 5-man starting lineup into the top-6 of total plus/minus in the clutch that year.

If this new award were available for the 2021-22 regular season, Paul would have been honored with it.

Sadly, those awards are usually handed out during the second round of the playoffs. Remember when Dirk Nowitzki won the MVP award and had to accept it from home, after his Warriors lost their first round playoff series?

Chris Paul might have had to accept that award amidst the Suns second-round collapse. But hey, at least it’s another piece of hardware.

The “Maurice Podoloff Trophy” for Best Regular Season Record

The Phoenix Suns led the league by a wide margin with 64 wins last year, the first time the Suns franchise had led the league in wins in nearly 30 years. Would have been nice to put this award somewhere in the Purple Palace, right?

Except, once again, it would have likely been awarded during the second round of the NBA playoffs. The dunkings on the Suns would have multiplied ten-fold. Again, we still remember Dirk accepting that MVP award from his house.

Conference Finals MVP

Now this one would have been nice to have for All-Time sake, right? These awards were first given out during the 2021-22 playoffs, and the initial winners were Jayson Tatum (East) and Stephen Curry (West).

If given out the year before, Chris Paul or Devin Booker would have won it for the Suns (West), with Giannis Antetokounmpo winning for the Bucks (East).

Booker played in all 6 games of the 4-2 Western Conference Finals series win over the Clippers. He led the team with 25.5 points, while adding 5.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. He kicked off the series with the only triple double of his career and a 40-point one at that.

Paul might have won the award, even though he only played the last 4 games of the series after missing the first two with COVID. He started slow upon his return, but closed out the Clippers with an outstanding 41 points on 16/24 shooting, plus 8 assists and 3 steals, in Game 6 in LA.

What do you think, Suns fans? You know these awards have been years in the making. Is it a league-wide conspiracy to hold off giving out these awards until exactly a year after the Suns could have won all of them?

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