The Phoenix Suns are on the precipice of something historic

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

As we enter the second to last day of the seeding games in the Orlando bubble, the Phoenix Suns find themselves on the precipice of going an astonishing 8-0.

1000 to 1. That was the odds from some sportsbooks for the Phoenix Suns to make the 2020 NBA Playoffs as they entered the Orlando bubble for the eight-game restart.

The Suns came as the very last team invited and 13th place in the Western Conference, six games behind the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies.

This is where the standings stood as of July 30, 2020:

8. Memphis Grizzlies 32-33
9. Portland Trail Blazers 29-37
10. New Orleans Pelicans 28-36
11. Sacramento Kings 28-36
12. San Antonio Spurs 27-36
13. Phoenix Suns 26-39

This is where we stand as of the morning of August 13:

8. Portland Trail Blazers 34-39
9. Memphis Grizzlies 33-39
10. Phoenix Suns 33-39
11. San Antonio Spurs 32-38
12. Sacramento Kings 30-41
13. New Orleans Pelicans 30-41

That is remarkable. Unfortunately, the Suns don’t own the tiebreaker over the Memphis Grizzlies or they would control their own destiny to make the play-in with a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.

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No one thought the Phoenix Suns would be in this position today.

The most pessimistic of Suns fans would have laughed at the Suns’ inclusion in the bubble and said it was a waste of time, a (let’s be honest) bigger Suns fan would be excited to see them play again this season and grateful they had the opportunity to get eight more games and another month and a half to improve and coalesce more.

No one, I mean no one, could have ever guessed on August 13, 2020, we would be talking about the Suns possibly finishing a perfect 8-0 in the Orlando bubble and possibly making the play-in for a chance to make the NBA Playoffs for the first time in 10 years!

But that is where we are, and it is a wonderful thing.

Devin Booker has looked like and may very win the NBA’s “Bubble MVP”, although Lillard’s popularity and recent outings make me feel like he will take that award home. His play has been historic from a Suns’ perspective as he is proving he can be the No. 1 guy for the next great era of Suns basketball.

That buzzer-beater against the Clippers will go down as one of the very best shots in the 52-year history of the franchise.

Mikal Bridges is finally getting the national attention (that real Suns fans have known for a while) he deserves for being a truly special perimeter defender and clearly has taken a step forward with his offensive game.

Cam Johnson is bigger, stronger, more athletic, a better defender, and solidified as a very important part of the Suns’ future.

Dario Saric has been a revelation on both ends and is stating his case to return to the Suns in 2020-21.

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The most fun story of all though is the fact that the Suns have had the best defensive backcourt combo (by a lot) in the NBA in this restart in Jevon Carter and Cameron Payne.

James Jones should win NBA Executive of the Month (that award doesn’t exist) for making the most effective addition (by 100 miles) of any team entering the bubble by signing Cameron Payne.

Payne’s energy, defense, and shooting have turned the tide in a number of games (Mavericks, Pacers, Thunder) and the Suns may have found their backup point guard of the future. One thing is for sure, the Suns would not be 7-0 without Cam Payne.

I mean it just makes sense he would be so productive in a presidential election year with a name like Cam-Payne right?

Jevon Carter’s 20-point, six 3-pointer performance and lockdown defense against the Heat was the difference in them pulling off a win against a very well-coached and pesky Miami Heat team.

While Deandre Ayton‘s numbers and offense haven’t quite been where they were in a month or so before play was halted in mid-March, as he looks a little tired and out of sorts (he is still averaging 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds), his defense has been elite.

Opponents are shooting 8 percent less than average on shots when Ayton is defending them because of his effort, length, positioning, and instincts.

As amazing as it would be to see Ayton become a 22-12 guy (I still think he might), becoming an elite defensive anchor is what will make the Suns a championship contender with this crew.

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As Suns fans, we all want to see the Suns finish 8-0 in the bubble and have the Grizzlies and/or Blazers lose on Thursday in order to keep the Suns magic alive for at least a few more days and see if they can make the 2020 NBA Playoffs and even push a struggling Los Angeles Lakers team, but even if things don’t go their way on Thursday, it is clear the horrors of the 2010s should be behind us as the Suns enter the (new world) of the 2020s in the NBA.

If the Suns make the play-in, it would be amazing, but not getting that opportunity (although depressing now) may be just as transformative for a Suns team that will learn a very hard lesson to not take any single game on the NBA schedule for granted.

Either way, as a Suns fan and Arizona Sports fan in general, these last few weeks have been the best in years and whether we look back on this bubble experience as the catalyst for the next great Phoenix Suns team (I think we will), or a random bit of magic the organization is not able to recapture, it is a moment in time to be cherished and remembered fondly.

So as you get ready for the most important day in Phoenix Suns basketball in 10 years, don’t forget to take it all in and appreciate the moment.

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