The Phoenix Suns are on their first three game winning streak in almost two years. What does this stretch mean going forward?
The Phoenix Suns were underperforming all season. They hadn’t played better than their 4-24 record, but they definitely had too much talent to be playing that poorly. Now they’ve won three games in a row, and they’re finally starting to look like a competitive NBA team. We should enjoy it, but we should also consider what this means going forward.
The Phoenix Suns’ three straight wins have come against the Dallas Mavericks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the New York Knicks by an average of 12 points. Those teams are a combined 15 games under .500. Still, the Suns alone are 17 games under .500, so any win is a good win.
Perhaps the biggest difference has been the return of Devin Booker. He didn’t play against Dallas, but he’s gone for 28 and 38 points in the two games since he’s returned, and the Suns badly missed his scoring and facilitating presence. His absence is part of the reason the team has struggled to start the season.
But even with Booker is the lineup, the Suns are just 6-15. That’s a winning percentage of .286, which would be fourth worst in the NBA and by far the worst in the Western Conference.
However, there are reasons to think the Suns truly are improving. The Suns have a new coach and new players. That brings a lot of feeling out to start the season. After weeks of ineffective lineups, Igor Kokoskov seems to finally be putting his players in good situations for 48 minutes. That makes a huge difference.
On top of that, the team has given far better effort over the last three games. There have been more guys getting on the floor for loose balls, and they’ve defended the three point line far better. It’s still to be determined whether that effort will be sustained going forward, especially when tougher opponents go on big runs, but it’s definitely a positive sign to see it at all.
So where do the Phoenix Suns go now? Even after a three game winning streak, they’re still seven games behind the next worst team in the West. The Suns aren’t making the playoffs this season. In the long term, it’s still best for them to lose a lot of games and put themselves in the best position to draft Zion Williamson. This roster is nowhere near complete.
That being said, there is clearly value, both long term and short term, in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, T.J. Warren, and the rest of the Suns young core playing hard in close games. It’s probably not realistic for that to all of a sudden be the new normal though. Only time will tell.
The past three games have been fun, but they don’t change the fact that this team is and should be tanking. Fans should still root for wins, but they shouldn’t be upset about the many losses to come. These wins are a sign of more wins to come next season, but they don’t change much this year.