Phoenix Suns: Final power rankings — and warnings

Phoenix Suns, Jevon Carter (Photo by Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Jevon Carter (Photo by Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns are in. A great season produced an oh-so-Phoenix prize, though, as the first-round opponent will be the suddenly healthy Lakers or the resurgent Warriors.

The feeling here is that Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Co. really don’t care what critics think.

Today, the Phoenix Suns are a 51-21 team with a No. 2 seeding in the West as the final, regular-season national power rankings rolled out.

Hey, great job. Now go beat LeBron and A.D. or Steph and playoff Draymond.

But that’s a worry for the weekend.

Bleacher Report’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 4

It’s tough to choose a preferred opponent as the Warriors and Lakers prepare to play on Wednesday night, but, really, most fans would be just fine to leave the Lakers to meet the Jazz.

Go Warriors.

"The Suns have been a great example of a team that knows exactly who they are and what they want to do. Devin Booker has been great all year working off Chris Paul. The only downside to his season is that he shot the second-worst percentage for his career. Paul has continued his two-year renaissance, leading Phoenix all year. He led them in assists at 8.9 and did a good job orchestrating the offense.The Suns’ reward for the second season will be an opening matchup against the Lakers or Warriors. Getting tested in the first round will prove right away whether the Suns are more than just paper tigers."

If Phoenix falls to the Lakers, it likely won’t even be an upset, strictly speaking, since L.A. will be favored. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be an oh-so-Phoenix way to lose.

CBS Sports’ NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 4

Another concise assessment from a national outlet claims Suns fans could not have predicted this season’s success. Who’s out there with a future-book ticket?

"The momentum from an 8-0 bubble run to close out last season was bolstered by the addition of Chris Paul, but even the most avid Suns fans couldn’t have seen this coming. Phoenix was one win away from entering the playoffs with the best record in the NBA, and Paul will surely get votes for MVP after meshing seamlessly with incumbent star Devin Booker. They earned the No. 2 seed in their first postseason appearance since 2010, and their reward is a potential matchup with LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Go figure."

Yeah, yeah. Covered that already.

The Athletic’s NBA power rankings: Phoenix Suns are No. 6

The Suns fell from No. 4 as the season concludes, but there is some optimism within this Suns segment.

And fans know if the team falls short of a title, the future is extremely bright.

"Mikal Bridges is a star role player for the Phoenix Suns. Going into the postseason, how could you not feel great about his presence on the floor? He’s a good scorer with a great jump shot, and he finishes roughly 80 percent of his shots within 3 feet of the rim (league average is 67.5 percent). Then you get to the defensive end of the floor, and he’s a walking bear trap. Once he clamps onto you, there’s nowhere for you to go. You have to pray a big man sets a great screen on him just to give you some air to breathe.Player you want more from: Deandre AytonThis third season from Ayton has been exactly what you need it to be. He doesn’t worry about touches on offense, and he trusts that his star backcourt will find him when it’s needed. Ayton has committed to the defensive end of the floor, which was a question for him coming out of Arizona. He still struggles here and there, but it’s all pretty understandable for a player this young. But heading into the playoffs, the Suns will need him to be more consistent on both ends. They don’t have great depth for the interior, and if they end up facing the Lakers in the first round, he’ll be put to the test.Feel good heading into the playoffs? Everything at this point is house money for the Suns. Yes, they have expectations as the 2-seed in the West, but regardless of what happens, this year was a massive success."

The Suns should enjoy Wednesday, have a watch party, practice hard and surprise the doubters.


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