The Suns, who last made the NBA postseason 11 years ago, remain very much in the hunt for the top seed in the Western Conference, as their 41-16 mark puts them just a game-and-a-half behind the 43-15 Jazz. While the ongoing development of several young Phoenix players has been a major factor in the team’s improvement, the offseason arrival of Chris Paul was arguably the key turning point in making the Suns a legitimate contender.
“I don’t have enough time to talk about everything he’s done,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said of Paul, per Royce Young of ESPN. “He’s brought such a — he’s improved the winning mentality. All of our guys want to win. But when you see a guy that has done it from afar and then you look at how he does it, from his diet to the exercise routine he has every day, and then in game when he’s able to be in those situations and really lift the level of our team, it’s pretty cool to watch.”
In addition to impressing Williams, who said he has “story after story” about the impact Paul has had in Phoenix, the veteran point guard has made a lasting impression on his young teammates, including fellow All-Star guard Devin Booker.
“I’m inspired every day. I tell Chris that every day. It’s not something I’m going to take for granted,” Booker said of his Suns’ backcourt mate. “I pick his brain. I listen to him — closely. I watch how he moves, and even when he’s not talking or leading us, I just watch how he goes about his business. There’s so much respect for him and not just from me, but leaguewide and worldwide.”
Here’s more from around the Pacific:
- Warriors forward Kelly Oubre made some comments in March suggesting he wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of coming off the bench, but he accepted a reserve role in stride upon his return to action on Monday, head coach Steve Kerr told reporters (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Oubre’s role as a sixth man gives the second unit a boost this season and could be a preview of next season’s rotation if the 25-year-old re-signs with Golden State, writes Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area.
- The Kings have been in a brutal slump this month, but their deadline additions continue to look good, as Delon Wright and Terence Davis played key role in a Sunday win that snapped a nine-game losing streak, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.
- Kings big man Chimezie Metu, who missed nearly a month-and-a-half earlier this season due to broken wrist he suffered when he was thrown to the court by Jonas Valanciunas, said he’s not holding a grudge toward the Grizzlies center, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. “It is frustrating looking back on it at times because who knows what could have happened in those six weeks for myself and what that could have meant for my career or for the team, for the team’s success,” Metu said. “… It’s tough looking back at it. It was tough in the moment, but I hold no hate in my heart for Valanciunas.”