Are the Phoenix Suns Moving Too Fast for Their Own Good?

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Only one more victory stands between the Phoenix Suns and a return to the NBA Finals. Their last venture onto the league’s grandest stage came nearly three decades ago, when Charles Barkley faced off against Michael Jordan, losing after six contests.

The Suns constructed some entertaining teams even after that run, including their “seven seconds or less” offense during mid-to-late 2000s. But today’s regime which has them once again eyeing a championship rose to prominence seemingly over night. This Suns team remains appreciated, but feels oddly premature, almost like a gift arriving at your doorstep two weeks before your birthday.

Chris Paul and Jae Crowder glue this team together well as serviceable veteran pieces, but the team’s base remains built around two players bearing very little experience: Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

It feels fair to say that after Phoenix drafted them, most Suns fans envisioned Booker and Ayton leading the Suns to a championship five to six years later, rather than three. Again, this in now way means to say that this run has not pleased Suns fans. If anything, it’s made it that much more enjoyable.

This too qualifies for Mikal Bridges. Taken only a few picks after Ayton, he rounds out the team’s starting five as another young, yet influential star behind Booker and Ayton. All three players made the “Top 25 players under 25” list recently published for HoopsHype, making the Suns one of only two teams [New Orleans Pelicans] with three players on the list.

The Pelicans not only missed the NBA Playoffs this year, but failed to even qualify for the Play-In Tournament, while Phoenix earned a two-seed spot. The term “surpassing expectations” does not even do these Suns enough justice.

But once considering the league’s player-controlled nature over the last decade, newfound willingness by opposing teams to dish out max contracts, and the implosion of other over-achieving, young teams like Kevin Durant‘s Oklahoma City Thunder or Shaquille O’Neal’s Orlando Magic, at least endorsing some caution regarding the team’s future feels warranted.

This applies even to those not actually playing for the Suns. At 40 years old, Phoenix Suns General Manager James Jones currently stands as the league’s sixth youngest executive, fresh off an NBA playing career that only ended four years ago.

This presents the question: Are the Phoenix Suns Moving Too Fast for Their Own Good?

The short answer—no, not by any means. Obviously, if a chance to win an NBA title presents itself, you go after it without hesitation. Any endorsement for the Suns to slow down as the current favorite to win it all would surely go down as the worst take known to man.

But given Phoenix’s distinct situaiton right now, this truth especially applies to them. More so than with any other team, it absolutely takes precedent over any future issues such as dealing with players who want more money, or navigating through increased ownership expectations.

For those neglecting to watch for whatever reason, youth seems like the most valuable thing for a team to carry during the 2021 playoffs, playing out to an extent unseen before, and likely to go unseen ever again.

Veterans such as Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid, and even our own Chris Paul suffered injuries this postseason, likely due to the shortened offseason following the league’s hiatus last year. A few big names always struggle with injuries each year, but quite frankly, this feels ridiculous.

However, nobody wants to hear these teams rant and complain. Let them save that for their burner accounts. The Suns though fall almost entirely outside this equation, thanks to their youth.

Built up by a roster with an average age of 27.1 years, the Suns own a far less likely chance to see their players suffer a significant injury. We see this coming into play out East as well, with the Atlanta Hawks, the league’s youngest team, currently enjoying a dream-run with their series now tied 2-2 with the Milwaukee Bucks.

During most championship runs, teams typically prefer to run with older players and lean on their postseason experience. But with this injury bug looking so contagious right now, Phoenix’s young team gives them a clear advantage.

For this reason, the Suns absolutely need to strike while the iron is hot. Naming this their best chance to win a title feels somewhat foolish considering how Booker, Ayton, and Bridges likely still have yet to reach their peaks as players. But still, it remains an almost perfectly laid out one for the team which they possess right now.

Additionally, you never know what the league might look like even a few weeks from now. Over the last few years, the NBA offseason has provided arguably more entertainment than the actual season itself with players swapping teams like shirts in a dressing room. Damian Lillard might find himself elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard seems likely to opt-out and become a free agent, as does Paul.

Next. Top 5 Playoff Performances for Phoenix Suns so Far. dark

Put simply, Phoenix needs to seize this opportunity. While other great ones may indeed come again, they are never assured, and they certainly will not come with circumstances as tailor-made for the Suns as this one has.