As the season comes to an end, the Phoenix Suns (PHX) have generated an identity and the will to win at all cost.
Recently, they’ve matched up against the Golden State Warriors (GS) and the Milwaukee Bucks (MIL), where they shocked spectators everywhere as they left the hardwood with upset wins. Beating the top two teams in each conference has proven they’re not just lucky, but they have something brewing up and it’s special.
They also had convincing wins over the Los Angeles Lakers (LAL) as well as the Miami Heat (MIA) where both Suns stars Shooting Guard (SG) Devin Booker and Center (C) Deandre Ayton showed up. Being confident enough to play up against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade respectively says a lot about the poise that these Suns players carry.
They aren’t looking to position themselves in order to draft potential star draft prospects Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, or Ja Morant. Rather they want to be good right now and are pushing the tempo against the league’s top-tier teams to prove it to the rest of the league. The top talent doesn’t fall on this team but his team has developed a unique sense of chemistry together. No one is selfish, everyone gets theres and everyone is defining their role.
The additions of Small Forward (SF) Kelly Oubre jr. and Guard (G) Tyler Johnson have helped show life to a once desolate and laughable team. They individually don’t bring huge stardom, but together have helped shaped who the Suns want to be: who (SG) Devin Booker envisioned them to be prior to the start of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season.
According to ESPN, rookie sensation (SF) Mikal Bridges is now in top five steals leaders for the 2018-2019 season that is amongst all players in the league. He’s become the defensive anchor towards ball-handlers that (SF) Trevor Ariza was once signed to be. The Suns have players willing to dive into particular roles that will help re-shape their collective unit and it will finally establish a consistent model.
First, the biggest issue the Suns face next season is the core contract guys that they have on the table. Johnson is set to receive $19 million next season which messes with their flexibility of who to sign. Booker’s max contract salary also hits the Suns salary cap at $27 million, according to spotrac.com. Booker is the centerpiece, so his contract isn’t hurting anyone, however the Johnson contract has to go. Whether it’s a sign-and-trade or a restructured contract because the Suns are looking as a destination set for big name players.
A designated facilitator is the absolute necessity for the Suns, they need a point guard. D’Angelo Russell, Kemba Walker, Terry Rozier, or Derrick Rose could be the answer for years to come. Even though Russell is a restricted free-agent, pairing him with Booker is an ideal fit for the Suns, so they should go all-out for Russell who claimed his first all-star nod this year. Russell can play on-and-off the ball at both the 1 and 2 positions. He’s best friends with Booker and they spend time in the gym together during the offseason. They’ve built the reliability and knowledge necessary to co-exist respectively.
Re-signing Oubre Jr., is a must as he brings a energy on both sides of the ball, even when he’s just the set-up player. He also has an off-court energy that brings the team together. It’s responsible for the bond the team developed even when they went through that big losing streak.
Point Guard (PG) Delon Wright has played for a winning and competitive team when he was first drafted by the Toronto Raptors, so adding that mentality will be great for the Suns as a back-up guard. Restricted free-agent shooter Sam Dekker would be another cheap asset with high upside that the Suns can add to at the forward position.
Potentially adding (PF) Julius Randle would also prove worthy of a conversation as he has proven to be a double-double big man, who can stretch the floor. He plays with the integrity and ferocity that every team needs. The Lakers regret not extending a multi-year contract to Randle but now he can earn even more this time around with the Suns.
The Suns have the opportunity to make great levels of change this offseason and see themselves competing in the playoffs this time around. Management must be thinking contract negotiations now and how much of their young core they will decide to keep for the future.
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