The Phoenix Suns Hold a Massive Advantage Over the Rest of the NBA That Significantly Boosts Their Title Hopes

The Phoenix Suns hold a massive advantage over the rest of the NBA. They have a young roster, an excellent head coach, and a healthy amount of cap space to pursue free agents. What other teams in the league have these advantages?

The Phoenix Suns hold a massive advantage over the rest of the NBA that significantly boosts their title hopes. The Suns last won a championship in 1993.

The Phoenix Suns were one of the NBA’s greatest shocks last season, finishing 51-21. So it was even the more unexpected when All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul helped lead Phoenix to their first NBA Finals since 1993.

In a difficult Western Conference, the Suns are becoming an increasingly big target. They do, however, have one edge over their western rivals, as well as the NBA as a whole, which should ensure a successful season in the desert.

For the Phoenix Suns, everything went according to plan.

For the greater part of a decade, the Suns have been a mostly unsuccessful franchise. Phoenix has missed the playoffs every season since Steve Nash’s departure in 2012, and has only finished above.500 once. Their lowest moment occurred two years ago, when they went 19-63, the second-worst record in club history after the 1968-69 expansion season.

Last season, though, everything changed. The Suns won over 50 games for the first time since 2009-10 with Paul in the fold and young talents Booker and DeAndre Ayton playing well. They were seventh in the NBA in points per game, seventh in points allowed, and fourth in point difference, behind only the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, and reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Phoenix also had its health on its side. Despite a short offseason and a pandemic impacting players throughout the league, Booker, Paul, and Ayton combined to miss 10 of a potential 216 games. Phoenix’s 24-year-old small forward Mikal Bridges started all 72 games, while four other players each participated in 60 games.

In the playoffs, the Suns took advantage of wounded teams. After the Los Angeles Lakers lost Anthony Davis in the midst of the series, Phoenix eliminated them in round one. After that, the Suns beat MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, who were missing Jamal Murray for the entire playoffs. Finally, they defeated the Clippers in six games without Kawhi Leonard before losing in the Finals to Milwaukee.

The Suns have brought back the bulk of their team from previous season.

Phoenix Suns guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul acknowledge each other with a bump. The Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker (L) and Chris Paul (R). Getty Images/Christian Petersen

The NBA’s fascination stems in part from how fast a team’s roster may be overhauled. The Lakers are a great example of this, having completely overhauled their roster in a single summer. The Suns, on the other hand, are the polar opposite of their Hollywood counterparts.

Phoenix has 11 players back from last season’s runner-up team, which is tied for fourth most in the NBA. However, those 11 players accounted for 87 percent of Phoenix’s minutes last season, the highest percentage in the NBA.

Last season, Ayton, Booker, Bridges, and Paul all started at least 67 games and played an average of more than 30 minutes per game. After averaging 27.5 minutes per game, veteran Jae Crowder will also start for Phoenix. Three of Phoenix’s most-used role players, Cameron Johnson, Cameron Payne, and Frank Kaminsky, are also returning for the 2021-22 season.

In terms of returned minutes, the Atlanta Hawks are the second-highest club after the Suns, followed by the Nuggets, Jazz, and Philadelphia 76ers. Denver leads the league with 14 returning players, although they only accounted for 84 percent of the team’s total minutes last season. The Lakers, who played 23 percent of last year’s minutes, were the team with the fewest returning players, followed by the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic.

Will the Suns be able to win the Western Conference once more?

Without a question, the Suns are in a fantastic position. With chemistry established and almost all of their key players returning, they should be able to get off to a stronger start than a club like Los Angeles that is still waiting for its pieces to come together. Furthermore, both the Nuggets and the Clippers, two of their main rivals, will be missing Murray and Leonard for the bulk of the season.

Is it, though, a good thing Phoenix is almost similar to last season’s team? The Suns win 51 games in a competitive West with a completely healthy squad and an identical starting five to current season. However, it’s debatable how far they would have progressed if any of their three playoff opponents ahead of Milwaukee had been healthy. Are the Suns confident in bringing back guys who played 87 percent of their minutes if Davis never gets injured and LA wins the first round?

In the end, it’s a wonderful thing when a solid squad sticks together for another year. Denver and Utah have established themselves as reliable playoff clubs, and it seems like Phoenix will join them this season. It remains to be seen if it will lead to a championship, but don’t be surprised if the Suns have a record that is comparable to or better than last season.

Basketball Reference provided all statistics.

RELATED: Before the Phoenix Suns’ run to the NBA Finals, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton were involved in heated exchanges throughout the season.

The Phoenix Suns are currently the best team in the NBA. They have a massive advantage over the rest of the league that significantly boosts their title hopes. Reference: phoenix suns trade.

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