Phoenix Suns: Best pick for who deserves the most credit

Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams, Chris Paul, Devin Booker (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams, Chris Paul, Devin Booker (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns and the team’s fans have a lot to ponder this week.

The Suns enter Wednesday’s game in Atlanta as the No. 1-ranked team, according to prominent NBA power rankings, and are tied with the Utah Jazz for the NBA’s best record (and Phoenix owns the tiebreaker).

It’s probably not hyperbole to say this season has been the most successful combination of surprise and results in team history.

The Phoenix Suns’ success is owed to many factors, but if asked to distribute the credit we’re going with a name that probably isn’t the first one mentioned in many industry circles.

The popular answer is that it’s all four of these guys — split evenly — are making it happen right now.

But that would be too easy, so, from No. 4 to No. 1, here we go.

Phoenix Suns credit: No. 4 Monty Williams, 22 percent.

Williams is rapidly climbing the charts among the franchise’s best coaches, already at No. 6 in winning percentage with his 81-57 (.587) closing quickly on Nos. 4 and 5, Scott Skiles (.595) and Danny Ainge (.602).

His concentration on delivering an elite culture, too, has played a huge role in the buy-in of the younger players.

There is an easy attachment among Williams, his staff and the players because of Williams’ experience. He’s been there, done that, not only as a player who reached the NBA, but also as a coach who had prior experience as the No. 1 guy (New Orleans — where he coached Chris Paul, laying the foundation for a deeper understanding in Phoenix).

Phoenix Suns credit: No. 3 James Jones, 25 percent.

It’s tough when the guy who is the deserving NBA exec of the year is only No. 3 on the list, but that’s what organizational teamwork will do.

And don’t argue for Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks. He made the bold decision to grant Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden their wish to play together.

Jones sold Chris Paul on the short-term future — and long-term plan — for the Suns. And Torrey Craig’s acquisition required more IQ than pulling the trigger on Harden.

Phoenix Suns credit: No. 2 Chris Paul, 26 percent.

Part of the reason James Jones deserves exec of the year love is his stubborn insistence that Chris Paul still had a ton left in the tank.

Paul has delivered on that promise several times over. There were a few questions surrounding Paul’s All-Star nod — at the expense of Devin Booker until Booker was named as an injury replacement — but now his impact has inspired MVP talk.

While Nikola Jokic has that one in the bag, and Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry figure to garner more votes than Paul, he’s been an absolute revelation to most Phoenix fans.

Phoenix Suns credit: No. 1 Devin Booker, 27 percent.

The planning, the acquisitions, the execution and point guard leadership would mean far less without the face of the Phoenix Suns franchise, Devin Booker.

The quick starts are vital for this team, with Booker’s urgency seemingly never taking a night off.

Booker trails only Steph Curry and Damian Lillard in first-quarter scoring, averaging 8.3 points in the opening stanza — with fewer turnovers than the top two.

He ranks 13th entering Wednesday in overall scoring average, 25.7, and even that isn’t his most important contribution.

While Suns fans, for the most part, welcome newcomers to the team’s bandwagon , they also recognize Booker’s consistent track record. He’s long maintained his confidence in the Suns’ future, pledging whenever asked that he’s in for the long run.

And it’s been a long run, but Booker’s feisty edge and his maniacal urgency to continue improving is the real reason he’s (barely) at the top of this subjective list.

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