By Julian Paras
The NBA has been surprising, to say the least, this season. The defending champs in Toronto hold on to the second seed in the East. The Golden State Warriors are tied with the Knicks as the worst teams in basketball. And the Phoenix Suns are… seventh in the Western Conference?
With their most recent loss to the Lakers, the Suns dropped to 6-4 on the season. However, there’s still a lot of optimism behind this young, exciting team. Last night, there were 29 lead changes between these two teams and 14 ties throughout the course of the game.
This season is very, VERY, different in a lot of ways for a lot of teams. However, something is happening in Phoenix that many basketball enthusiasts haven’t seen since the Suns’ last successful season – going back almost a decade.
So what has changed? Is this team for real? And is it time to believe in the Phoenix Suns again?
The Phoenix Suns have been off to an impressive start through their first nine games. As a result, they have found themselves in a great position at the sixth spot in the West. However, that’s not the only area where the Suns are excelling.
According to NBA.com, Phoenix is leading the league in assists (28.1), fifth in points per game (116.8), first in field goal percentage (47.8), and fourth in three-point percentage shooting 38.4 percent effectively.
But we’ve seen more from the Suns in addition to their impressive statistics – a well-balanced roster.
Over the offseason, Phoenix found themselves a new head coach in Monty Williams, Point Guard Ricky Rubio, and Center Aron Baynes.
Other notable acquisitions:
- Jevon Carter
- Dario Saric
- Frank Kaminsky
One of the biggest surprises with Phoenix (as if there weren’t some already) was the insertion of aron Baynes at the Center Position.
Suns Center DeAndre Ayton was set to take a big step forward with Phoenix until he was suspended 25 games for violating the NBA anti-drug policy. The young big man was tested for using a banned diuretic which can act as a masking agent for banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The Suns were missing an important piece in Ayton who adds to their scheme offensively and defensively.
Baynes has served as an excellent replacement in Ayton’s absence averaging 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and shooting a staggering 50 percent from the three-point arc.
The addition of Ricky Rubio has also been paying off for the Suns as the former FIBA World Cup MVP is leading the team in assists, rebounds, and steals.
Bottom line: The Phoenix Suns have made drastic improvements the team has been seeking for over ten years. Their depth has been improved upon from point guard to center.
The future could be bright for Phoenix moving forward, but it’s a long season and a lot can happen over 82 games. For now, the Suns are in a position they haven’t seen or felt within ten years — and it seems promising.
The Phoenix Suns next matchup is against the Atlanta Hawks Thursday at 7:00 pm.