No. 3: The Phoenix Suns’ Adults-in-the-Room Award goes to Chris Paul and Jae Crowder.
When the franchise took a big swing this offseason and brought Chris Paul aboard, most industry experts applauded the move. Paul was already a future Hall of Famer and two-time NBA MVP. He could have simply gone through the motions last season in his solitary season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Instead, he showed professionalism, talent and the willingness to share his wealth of knowledge.
That trait has perhaps been the second-most valuable prize he has presented Phoenix Suns players — and coaches.
The most important element, of course, is the on-court impact he’s shown, improving the Suns’ chances of snapping their nasty-long playoff drought. At almost 36 years old, Paul still plays above-average defense and his 14.8 points and 8.5 assists per game entering Saturday’s big night aren’t far off his career averages.
(Paul was the major force in the Suns’ victory over Dallas, scoring 29 points and delivering 12 assists.)
Fun fact, per NBA.com: Paul is behind only John Stockton and Bob Cousy in career Defensive Win Shares among players 6-1 or shorter.
Jae Crowder, too, is proving to be a “set-it-and-forget-it” piece to the rotation puzzle. Though he’s been a few ticks below his career 42 percent mark from 3-point range, his defensive metrics are overwhelmingly positive.
As the guy who always seems to play like he has something more to prove, Crowder provides a tone for the Suns’ younger players to hear — and follow. He played that way at Marquette and, as a second-round NBA draft pick in 2012, he’s carried a chip on his shoulder throughout his professional journey.
Paul and Crowder set the example for steady, productive work, and the Suns can thrive from it.