Phoenix Suns: Still elite in NBA power rankings

Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul (Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns suffered a stunning setback at home last Tuesday, blowing a big lead against the Brooklyn Nets.

Though that stumble cost the Suns a perfect 7-0 homestand, it provided a learning opportunity the team applied — better late than never — during a 41-12 fourth quarter barrage in New Orleans and the next night at Memphis.

The Phoenix Suns seem firmly entrenched in the fight for a home-court advantage in the NBA playoffs’ first round, and this week’s NBA power rankings back up that assumption.

Those five quarters — and the full game Monday night against Portland — have seen a quick start, sustained energy, elite shooting and a killer instinct.

Suns coach Monty Williams has a vast wealth of depth to deploy, and the improvements are showing. power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #4

The Suns’ bright spots are abundant, but the troubling loss to the Nets stands out. spots are abundant. offered a rough critique of Deandre Ayton’s pick-and-roll defense but its final-sentence warning turned out to be nothing to worry about.

"As the Nets were completing a comeback from 24 points down on Tuesday, Landry Shamet, Jeff Green and James Harden (once, twice, thrice) all took turns blowing by Ayton for key layups (or a drive-and-kick assist in the first Harden example). The Suns rank sixth defensively, but there will be a lot more moments this season where Ayton’s ability to defend in space will be under the microscope.Monday, when the Suns face Damian Lillard and the Blazers for the first time, could bring more of those moments."

The Suns rolled past Portland 132-100 on Monday night.

ESPN power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #5

The Suns have rolled to a 20-10 mark, a huge improvement not only over the past, oh, 10 years or so, but also over the team’s preseason expectations.

"While the Jazz have taken the Western Conference by storm, the Suns are on quite a roll, as well. After falling to 8-8 on Jan. 27 after dropping games following a weeklong postponement of play, the Suns have won 11 of 13. In its past two games, Phoenix has scorched the nets from deep. Against the Pelicans on Friday, Phoenix tied a franchise record with 22 3-pointers. The following night against Memphis, the Suns passed that mark with 24 triples against the Grizzlies."

The Suns are already off to a big start to the week, defeating Western Conference rival Portland, and have Charlotte at home before Friday and Sunday road games at Chicago and Minnesota, respectively.

CBS Sports power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #4

CBS moved Phoenix down one, but fourth-best among 30 teams is not bad.

What was bad, as Suns fans know, was the Nets game. And they didn’t even have Kevin Durant. OK, we get it. Let’s move on … but not until CBS references that game one more time.

"Blowing a 24-point lead against the Nets without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving was a tough way to start the week for the Suns, but they turned around to pull off a fourth-quarter comeback of their own against the Pelicans before destroying an undermanned Grizzlies squad on Saturday."

They also cheered Chris Paul, whose 20 points and 10.7 assists and 61 percent 3-point marksmanship for the week helped Phoenix to hit a 131.5 offensive rating.

Bleacher Report power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #3

Dropping from #2, the Suns are still seen as among the league’s leaders.

BR also underscored the importance of the team’s key trio.

"Over the last 13 games, Devin Booker has been on another level. He is averaging 26.1 points, shooting 51.7 percent from the floor, including 41.7 from three. Deandre Ayton has been a double-double machine during this stretch, averaging 13.0 points and 11.9 rebounds.Chris Paul passed Oscar Robertson to move to sixth on the all-time assist list to continue to add to his Hall of Fame resume."

The Athletic power rankings: Phoenix Suns are #5

The subscription website’s Zach Harper put Phoenix at #5 and said Chris Paul may have earned a much bigger chance at an All-Star reserves selection, alongside teammate Devin Booker.

Those decisions, made by the conference coaches, are coming Tuesday night on TNT.

Next. Phoenix Suns should set it and forget it. dark