Just as they did while going unbeaten at Disney World, the Suns are sporting the best record in the NBA. Phoenix is off to a 5-1 start that includes victories over three playoff teams from last season: the Mavericks, Jazz and Nuggets.
While the results are similar to what they did in Orlando, this is a different Suns team after the offseason trade that brought in Chris Paul. In addition to serving as a veteran presence to guide his younger teammates, Paul remains a high-level point guard at age 35, averaging 13.2 points and 8.7 assists through the season’s first six games.
Paul is surrounded by plenty of weapons, much like he was in Oklahoma City last year. Devin Booker has been one of the league’s most proficient scorers for the past four seasons, and former number one pick Deandre Ayton can be a dominating inside presence. Mikal Bridges looks like one of the league’s most improved players, averaging 15.3 PPG and 5.2 RPG so far.
It has been a long time since the Suns made a serious run at the playoffs. Last year’s 8-0 performance in the bubble only brought their record to 34-39, still short of the ninth-place finish needed to reach the qualifying game. Phoenix hasn’t posted a winning season since going 48-34 in 2013/14 and hasn’t been to the playoffs in 11 years.
Although there’s plenty of optimism in Phoenix, the players realize there’s a long road ahead, Paul told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
“It’s early, it’s early. It’s a long season,” he said. “We always say this, we’re just trying to pile up wins. Just trying to pile up wins. It’s a new format as far as the playoffs and all that this season. So every game matters.”
We want to get your early-season impression of the Suns. Do they have enough talent to reach the postseason in a Western Conference race that seems to be loaded with good teams? Please leave your answer in the comments section.