Phoenix Suns surprise story of NBA

Sam H.'22, Writer

After the 2018-2019 season where the Phoenix Suns finished with a 19-63 record, the Suns were once again predicted to finish last in the Western Conference  with the worst record in the NBA. Those expectations went even lower when the Suns traded T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers for cash considerations.  

The trade was not the best move for the Suns.  Warren had developed into a knockdown three point shooter, making 42.8% of his three-point attempts.  The Suns used these cash considerations to re-sign Kelly Oubre Jr; a rising star, and Ricky Rubio. Rubio gave the Suns their first decent point guard since Steve Nash.  However, his contract was questionable, as Rubio is a non-shooting perimeter player. His lack of ability to space the floor would have caused a problem when the Suns wanted to attack the basket.  

Rubio has outshone the expectations of his critics, as he has shot 40 % from three this season, and has been the floor spacer the Suns desperately needed.  This opens up the space needed for superstar and sleeper MVP candidate Devin Booker and Oubre Jr. to get to the basket and create scoring opportunities for themselves.  But nobody was a bigger surprise this season than Aron Baynes.

The Suns acquired Baynes and the 24th overall pick in the draft, Ty Jerome, from the Boston Celtics on draft night in a trade for the Suns’ 2020 1st Round pick.  Baynes was expected to be nothing more than a role player and a gritty post defender. However, with the 25-game suspension of DeAndre Ayton because of a positive drug test for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), Baynes has shined with the Suns.  He went from averaging 5.6 points per game (PPG) and 4.7 rebounds per game (RPG), averaging 16.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG. The biggest reason for this is Baynes has developed into a knockdown shooter, and is fourth in the league in true shooting percentage with a remarkable percentage of 67.9 %, shooting 56.1 % and 44.1 % from three according to ESPN and  Baynes has also been much more comfortable passing the ball and his confidence has risen significantly.  Baynes is not the only player on the Suns making large contributions.

Oubre Jr. has been an excellent contribution as the Sun’ second option on offense, averaging 18 ppg, and shooting 37% from three, much higher than his 32.3 % average on his career.  He compliments Booker with the ability to space the floor, something the Suns struggled with last season. Booker has been doing what he does, putting up superstar numbers on the offensive end, averaging 24.8 points and 6.1 assists, while shooting 51.8 % from the field and 42.9 % from three and posting a 19.56 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) trying on defense now that he feels surrounded by a proper supporting cast.  

The Suns have also proven this start to the season is no fluke, as they have posted a mediocre early season record of 8-8, and have beaten several championship caliber teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers.  They have improved drastically from their 3-13 record they posted at the start of last season. The Suns have finally arrived to take their place in the NBA, and the team is only going to step forward on their path to making the NBA playoffs.