Phoenix Suns the best, hitting No. 1 in one set of NBA power rankings

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns have hit the top of one NBA power rankings list, but they’ve almost reached the end of the smooth pavement, with the upcoming road looking much more rocky and unsteady.

Hey, at least they made the most of a nice eight-game run before hitting the road and facing some teams not called Rockets, Wizards, Timberwolves and Kings.

The league’s (arguably?) top guard tandem — Chris Paul and Devin Booker — has made for a game-planning challenge for opposing teams, and Deandre Ayton is starting to provide some dependable offense along the way.

The Phoenix Suns are still rising stars among this week’s NBA power rankings, rising to No. 1 in the collection.

With the Utah Jazz losing Monday night to Washington, and the Denver Nuggets losing star Jamal Murray to a torn ACL, the Suns’ main worry could become the Los Angeles Clippers. L.A. also has steadily gained traction on the rankings lists, finding a home in the top five.

ESPN’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 2

The highlight victory last week, an overtime W against the Utah Jazz, was not quite enough to complete the climb.

"Saturday’s victory over the Wizards gave Phoenix 37 W’s on the season. With a 72-game schedule, that locked up a winning season for the Suns for the first time since 2013-14, when the team went 48-34."

ESPN still has the Jazz at the top.

Bleacher Report NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 2

These rankings really let the air out of the Jazz balloon, dropping Utah to No. 5 this week.

"Phoenix had a big slate of games last week, facing the Jazz and Clippers. The Suns went to overtime with Utah and pulled out a win. Then their seven-game winning streak was snapped against the Clippers. They rebounded with a win over the Wizards to finish the week 3-1.Having Chris Paul can be a big advantage in clutch situations, and it showed last week. He averaged 18.5 points, with 6.8 coming in the fourth quarter. Having a steady and experienced clutch player like Paul will pay off in the playoffs.Deandre Ayton accepted the challenge of taking on Rudy Gobert in the Suns’ matchup against the Jazz. Ayton finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. If this is the type of play they get from Ayton come playoff time, it will raise their ceiling."

The No. 1 team in the BR universe? The Clippers.

CBS Sports NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 2

Up from No. 3, not bad. But those Clippers claimed the top spot here, too.

"Phoenix beat the Jazz in overtime in one of the best games we’ve seen all season, then suffered a bit of a schedule loss the next night to the Clippers in L.A. Even with the loss, the Suns are one of the hottest teams in the league, and the win over the Jazz should provide them with confidence that the regular-season success can translate to the playoffs. Devin Booker continued his torrid pace this week, averaging 30.7 points on 38 percent 3-point shooting, while Chris Paul put up 18.5 points and 8.3 assists, including some big plays down the stretch in the win over Utah."

A win over Miami on Tuesday night would be a good thing for the Suns’ hopes to secure a top seed. NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 1

There you go, Suns fans. Some serious respect for the job Monty Williams and this cast of ball-moving characters have brought to the Valley.

The John Schuhmann analysis pointed to the insane efficiency provided on midrange shooting by Chris Paul and Devin Booker. It’s a big deal against the right matchups.

"In two wins over the Jazz, the Suns have allowed the league’s third-ranked offense to score just 101 points per 100 possessions. And in two losses to the Clippers, they’ve allowed the league’s top-ranked offense to score 123 per 100. The working theory in this space is that their defense is better than the sum of its parts, not great with individual matchups (they rank 29th in isolation defense), but great at helping, rotating, and defending teams that rely on ball movement. There were some really nice sequences in that win over Utah on Wednesday.The Utah matchup is also a favorable one because the Suns have two of the five guys who have shot better than 50% on at least 200 pull-up 2s. And on Wednesday, Chris Paul (9-for-16) and Devin Booker (6-for-12) were 15-for-28 on those shots against the Jazz’s drop coverage."

Of course, the NBA schedule can be nasty, and the Suns had to face the Clippers on the road just 24 hours after the win over Utah.

"Booker has had good numbers against the Clips, but the game in L.A. on Thursday got away from the Suns with him off the floor at the start of the third quarter. Since Jae Crowder’s move into the starting lineup in min-March, the team’s minutes with only one of Paul or Booker on the floor (-0.3 points per 100 possessions) haven’t been nearly as good as they were prior (+13.2)."

The Suns finish out the week with home games against the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.

Next. A very good night for the Phoenix Suns. dark