Can the Phoenix Suns advance in the NBA Playoffs

The Phoenix Suns are in the top of the Western Conference, they have shown the swagger and toughness of a true contender for a championship. But yet there is very little regard for them, there just seems to be zero buzz about the Suns. Sports guys on the idiot box talk about who the contenders are – they will say the usual’s, Brooklyn, LA Lakers, the Sixers, and the Clippers. It’s as if Phoenix Suns are just forgotten about – despite having a 50-21 record in the West. The Suns not only are winning – but they are winning big, as proven by their point differential – which is sitting at +5.9.
Better than the Nets, Sixers and even the 41 win Blazers – all of whom are talked about far more than Phoenix.

The Suns have put together a team, and it has been a real success what they have put on the floor. Especially when they traded for Chris Paul, grabbed Jae Crowder, with guys who are very quality pieces for depth, guys that could be relied on to score and fill in for 20 minutes if needed. It is incredible to think just how good the Paul trade was for the Suns. He has gotten them 16ppg, 9 dimes, and 49% shooting from the field for them – with experience and great court leadership. His adjustment to playing alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton has barely seemed like an adjustment at all. They have gelled extremely well, since signing the 15 year vet. If Booker or Ayton get caught in some foul trouble – the grizzled veteran PG has been able to right the ship. He has been a huge and very important asset for the Suns.

Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker have completed the Suns as a very real threat, Booker has been a very serious problem for defenses, with 26 /game, and Ayton has been even better than expected with his timing and career best FG%. Granted Booker has been a stud for awhile – but the 22 year old bigman has played a huge role for the Suns.
Ayton has gotten them the boards and the big body down low to contain other bigs. Ayton has been one of the better defenders for Phoenix, and Head Coach Monty Williams has trusted him to guard the paint with ease. He can also stretch a bit, defending jump shots, he has gotten them solidified on defense, and has a defensive rating of 108
Booker has been just outstanding this season, knocking down 48% of his shots from the field, 34% from behind the arc, along with 4 bounds on around 34 minutes /game. He hasn’t been dependent on the pick and roll – he has been even better.

Phoenix are high in offensive efficiency, putting up 115 /game, and are also top 7 in defense, giving up 109 /game.
Phoenix is a ton of fun to watch. The Phoenix Suns success this year has been based on a much better defensive effort and hustle. They allow the 5th worst 3pt percentage in the NBA at 35%, as they close quickly when shooters are searching for a deep bomb, and if they do get it up, they are contested.

The Suns are shooting excellently as a team, at 49% and have been getting some great spacing on the floor. Everybody moves without the ball – which is always great, and that is not even their best asset as a unit.
Head Coach Monty Williams has changed the culture of this team, the Suns have been responding to everything he has been bringing, they have been executing on both defense and offense. Phoenix was able to enjoy former stud coaches, Cotton Fitzsimmons from back in the early 90s, and the 7 seconds or less years of D’Antoni. It appears now with Williams – they may have themselves a great coach again. I fully expect the winning to continue with this Phoenix Suns team.

The Suns have to have the mindset they can beat any team in the NBA, and win the championship.

Why is nobody concerned about the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder lineup is going to be a really tough guard if they can find a way to get into the playoffs. I know we are a long way from the tournament – but they have some heat on that team, and I think more should be keeping an eye on them. They have several guys who are all above average to top end shooters, with 3 guys who can knock down 46% or better from the floor who take 12 or more shots / game, and they don’t have anyone on the team who soaks up a ton of wasted possessions, chucking up bad shots. They have a handful of guys who can also put the ball on the floor, and make plays as well.
Dennis Schroder has compiled an impressive body of work statistically with 18ppg and 47% shooting – coming off the bench, and still amassing 31 minutes /game. Schroder was the teams best player vs 2 of the better teams in the conference, the Clippers and vs the Jazz during a 2 week stretch, when he netted 28 and 27 points on 49% shooting in those games, which shows he can get it done with ease. Schroder hasn’t had great postseason success – when playing with Atlanta for his first 4 years in the league, with just one strong run in 14-15 when he didn’t get a lot of shots and never saw the court much.
Chris Paul’s shot creation skills off ISO plays have been incredibly good for a guy of his age. Paul turned 34 years old and has been having his best shooting season since 16-17 season, at 47%. He is super effective, and still plays good defense, as well, as he is tops on the team in steals. At 34 years old – he is bringing the veteran leadership for this team, Paul has everything you could want from an offensive centerpiece, including, the veteran smarts to not force bad shots. Paul can fade off into the corner, not touching the ball, then suddenly has 4 quick possessions in a row where he is either scoring or assisting. Could you imagine what he could have done for this team in his prime?
Then there is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – who looks incredibly comfortable on the court with exceptional scoring skills. As a scorer, he’s the real deal – getting to the rim whenever he wants to, and he can drop shots from all over the court, he attacks with ease off the dribble going to the bucket, his 19.9 ppg is tops on the team. I actually think he is one of the better scoring jump shooters I’ve seen in awhile, and is showing more at a young age than many players. I also feel his quickness off the ball is very good, as he gets separation off the dribble and can drive to the rack. He isn’t an All-Star yet – but he is as close as it gets. His potential is sky high, as well at the fact that he is very athletic, and of course, he is just 21 years old.
If Paul can lead this Thunder team and sneak into the playoffs this year, as a potential 6th or 7th seed, they match up well vs a currently 2nd seeded Denver team, who they have played tough this year so far. Steven Adams is good for a double-double every night with points and rebounds. OKC is a good team, that could be a tough out if they make it to the NBA playoffs.