The Phoenix Suns have got off to a good start so far, not something most would have expected after they dominated the regular season and watched in disbelief as Luka Doncic put on a clinic for the ages and put the game out of reach by halftime. I guess most would say it was not surprising as Chris Paul has been a part of his fare share of playoff collapses and after last year’s disaster in Game 7 I even got thoughts of finally giving up on Chris Paul ever winning a championship in what has been an illustrious missing everything except NBA Champion on Wikiperdia under Chris’s bio. The achievements and awards are countless, a true first-ballot hall-of-fame resume but without that championship we might never remember Chris as even a top 5 point-guard all-time. I liked Monty’s approach of giving the team space over the off-season and the miscommunication between Monty and De’Andre over the off-season led most to think the Phoenix Suns were ready to change up an identity which was led them to the top of the Western Conference over the past 2 seasons as a true title contender.
When Chris Paul came over to the Phoenix Suns he made it very clear that the key to their success will depend on De’Andre Ayton’s development and rightfully so him disappearing offensively in the 2021 NBA Finals was the ultimate reason Giannis Antetokoumpo was crowned champion that season. He was a non-factor practically, Ayton made Jokic look like Darko Milicic in the second round and made Giannis look like a prime Shaquille O’Neal in the Finals. Monty Williams made the Suns’ offense rather predictable and the Suns received nothing from their frontcourt, it became the Devin Booker-Chris Paul show and in that Finals I learned it truly takes a team to win and how vital role players are. It’s what is really wrong with basketball these days, the Jordan-LeBron debate has led everyone to think Jordan is superior to LeBron just because 2 more additional rings which is absolutely ridiculous. Chris Paul and Devin Booker need De’Andre Ayton to be that 3rd option and from the looks of it 3-4 games into the season it seems like he is ready to finally step up.
As much as a like Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson neither has the game changing ability De’Andre Ayton can have. If De’Andre Ayton gets a featured role and Monty Williams somehow gets Chris Paul and Devin Booker to feed De’Andre Ayton a lot more often on pick and rolls and pops Ayton has the arsenal to punish teams from all over the floor. He is not the most highly skilled big man but he is a fairly accurate mid-range shooter and I can live with watching him chuck-up jumpers all game, he has very good shooting mechanics and good enough footwork to trust him on a clear-out. Last season a lot of people thought they were going to run through the league and steamroll their way to a championship, I thought so too they signed Javale McGee and Landry Shamet to patchup in areas where they lacked against Milwaukee but they ran into Luka Doncic who is not from planet Earth and could very well be regarded the GOAT some day in case LeBron James never convinces the Michael Jordan fanbase. Monty Williams has had a ton of success with the Phoenix Suns but if he does not deliver the championship this season it might be time to relieve him of his duties next summer.
Chris Paul is only getting older and yes he has been able to defy Father Time much like LeBron James but his vertical challenges won’t be helping him much beyond this season. Devin Booker pretty much is what he is at this point, he is arguably the best shooting guard in the league at the moment and could continue to hold that crown for another 2-3 more seasons and De’Andre Ayton is arguably a top 5 center in the NBA behind the likes of Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic but is highly unlikely to ever reach the ceiling those two have but he can certainly play like a superstar big come playoff time if Monty Williams can allow him to showcase the reason he was drafted 1st overall years ago. Scouting the league a championship could be guaranteed if they find someway to snag a disgruntled Kevin Durant out of Brooklyn but assuming they go forward with this current core the only way they will win it is if again Monty Williams accepts Chris Paul needs a more diminished role due to age and place more weight of responsibility on De’Andre’s shoulders to become the true new Kobe and Shaq tandem he said he envisioned in a partnership with franchise superstar Devin Booker. As I said a year ago, the fate of the Phoenix Suns will once again rest on De’Andre Ayton’s hands.