How Monty Williams and Mikal Bridges can Make Phoenix Suns History

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

With everyone now paging through the 2021-22 NBA season’s final chapters—debates regarding who deserves to earn what regular season awards are flooding Twitter feeds, broadcast booths, barber shops, and downtown bars. While the Phoenix Suns simultaneously gear up for the postseason, Valley fans cannot help but partake, campaigning for their guys to take home some hardware as well.

But no matter who they involve, regular season awards remain a fun topic to discuss. Everyone has their own opinion, of course with some bias sprinkled over the top. Some races like the MVP look so close right now, they might even come down to game No. 82.

At the same time, All-NBA teams remain up for contention, which could include some familiar names like Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Both received All-Star bids earlier this year, positioning themselves quite well to now receive All-NBA accolades.

But aside from the bigger names on Phoenix’s squad like CP3 and Book, others deserve recognition as well. Looking at the team from top to bottom, head coach Monty Williams and two-way stud Mikal Bridges are also entitled to some applause.

Williams took over the Phoenix head coaching gig back during the 2019-20 season, famously leading the team on an 8-0 bubble run that nearly catapulted them to the playoffs. That run started something special, as Williams came in and changed the entire franchise’s culture.

We know what he did last year after the bubble, and now with his current team sporting a league-best 62-16 record, Williams deserves the world.

“I’m going to Mars if he don’t get it,” said Deandre Ayton when asked about Williams’ Coach of the Year validity a few days ago.

Last year, Williams came up second in Coach of the Year voting to Tom Thibodeau. But with the Suns making it all the way to the NBA Finals last year and Thibodeau’s Knicks sputtering out over the past season and a half, many now view Williams’s second-place finish as a snub.

“It shouldn’t even be close,” said Chris Paul when asked the same thing. “No disrespect to all those other coaches and what they’re doing, but what are you watching if this man doesn’t get Coach of the Year?”

There indeed seems to be little competition for the award this year unlike the last. Most Vegas sportsbooks have Williams as a heavy favorite to win the COTY honor, projecting him as the first Suns coach to do so since Mike D’Antoni did during the 2004-05 season.

But moving onto the court, Mikal Bridges deserves some love as well. Although his grittiness and two-way skills have allowed him to gain some traction lately, he still deserves far more praise.

Working as the anchor of the league’s top ranked defense from an efficiency standpoint, Bridges holds this fortified team together night in and night out. He often takes on an opposing team’s best offensive player, and holds his own weight while doing so.

Most recently, he went up against James Harden, one of the best isolation players the league has seen, and still did his thing. In fact, Harden struggled in all three of his meetings vs the Suns this year, shooting 1-9 from the field with three turnovers with The Warden guarding him.

If Monty Williams holds onto the Coach of the Year award, and Mikal Bridges secures Defensive Player of the Year thanks to such efforts, it would be only the fourth time since 1983 where said awards were won by guys on the same team.

That would represent quite the accomplishment, and put a cherry on top of what promises to be a record breaking season for Phoenix already.

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These Suns have already etched their names into the history book, but there’s still some space left to write more. Although they want to eventually fill it up with tales of their Larry O’Brien conquest, these two awards resemble solid additions as well.