Phenix Suns Dream of Another Strong West in 28 Years
In the 2020-2021 season, the Phoenix Suns made Chris Paul the second place in the Western League, beating the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs. Phoenix achieved a lot from the playoff stage in 11 years to the final in 28 years. Unfortunately, however, the Milwaukee Bucks were blocked and their dream of winning their first title in the club was ruined. Phoenix’s stance this offseason was clear. Unlike other teams that have taken aggressive moves to strengthen their power, they have reorganized their teams focusing on protecting existing players. Will the indomitable phoenix corps be able to win its first franchise title beyond the runner-up?
It’s been 11 years since he made it to the playoffs and came in second.
Although it was only a runner-up, it is safe to say that Phoenix’s 2020-2021 season was a successful year. Under Monty Williams’ managerial system, Phoenix was already growing around Devin Booker. On top of that, starting with Chris Paul ahead of the new season, he has built a solid team by recruiting Jay Crowder and Dario Saric.
The reinforcement effect of recruiting has been evident since the regular season. The team, which has been in the bottom ranks for the past few years, has accumulated multipliers at the beginning of the season. In early February, he won six games in a row, recording 17 wins and nine losses in 26 games since the opening. Afterwards, he added several consecutive wins, finishing the regular season in second place in the West with a brilliant 51 wins and 21 losses, and making it to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
However, Phoenix’s performances in the regular season were only a preview of the playoffs. The first opponents in the playoffs were the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis holding out. Phoenix ranked second and Lakers ranked seventh, and despite the overwhelming gap, many basketball fans, including local experts, expected an upgrade of the Lakers.
Hana Phoenix was a much stronger and stronger team than people thought. Paul and Booker, plus Diandre Aighton, the triangular formation boasted tremendous power, and Michael Bridges and Cameron Johnson, who would add extra points outside, and finally Sixman Cameron Payne, who was in full swing. With a flawless team basketball, Phoenix overturned public expectations by subduing the Lakers, and defeated the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers to conquer the West.
Phoenix’s momentum was on the rise, and it seemed to be approaching the club’s first win by winning two consecutive home games against the Milwaukee Bucks in the final. Hana, Janice Adetokunbo, Chris Middleton, and Zuru Haladay failed to beat Milwaukee’s big three, and unfortunately fell on the verge of victory after losing four consecutive games.
Last season, Phoenix confirmed the team’s potential and focused on maintaining the off-season team’s main lineup. First, Phoenix followed Paul, the biggest piece that led the team to the final stage, renewing a four-year, $120 million contract. His joining Phoenix was certainly a valid performance in the regular season, but his performance in the playoffs paid off. Even at the age of 36, he played the role of option one with Booker, who was the ace of the existing team, with his steady offense. Paul’s remaining scoring and league top-level game management and coordination skills have taken Phoenix’s team level to one level or more.
In particular, while focusing on the game reading until the first half, the attack in the second half made the opposing team unable to control him at all. In fact, he proved this in Game 4-37 against the Denver Nuggets and Game 6-41 against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the Western PO. In Game 6 with the Clippers, he added 66.7% fielding rate (FG 16/24, 3P 7/8) with eight assists and three stills, and above all, he showed a perfect performance that would not tolerate a single turnover.
#Chris Paul 2021 PO Record: 16.4 points in 31.4 minutes (FG 49.9%, 3P 39.5%) 4.5 rebounds 8.9 assists 1.4 stills
Phoenix succeeded in signing a contract extension with Payne after Paul. Payne is called “CP15” from Paul’s nickname, “CP3,” and he is a six-man who is not envious of any team. Isolation attacks that utilize quick physical skills and agility added variety to Phoenix’s attack options. In addition, with his witty passing ability to save his teammates, he raised his value to the fullest during the playoffs, which Phoenix acknowledged and gave him a three-year, $19 million contract.
#CameronPain 2021 PO Record: 9.3 points (FG 42.5% 3P 36.2%) on average 19 minutes of participation 2.5 rebounds 3.2 assists 0.8 steals
In addition to the two, Phoenix signed extended contracts with Frank Kaminski (1 year) and Abdel Nader (2 years), continuing to protect existing players. One, Phoenix wasn’t just about protecting. First, Phoenix signed guard Elfried Payton, who became an FA after 2020-2021 (formerly New York Knicks), on a one-year veteran contract. Payton is a point guard capable of individual attacks that saved the breakthrough and capable of striking passes. Although a three-point shot is often pointed out as a weakness, it is expected to be a combination with Phoenix’s Big Men in that it shows strength in the two-man game against Big Man. Above all, defense and rebound capabilities from a large height compared to the 190cm height position could give Phoenix’s point guard advantage (Paul 183cm and Payne 185cm), which is relatively small in height.