Phoenix Suns set for dogfight as Pacific Division regains strength

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

The Phoenix Suns ran away with the Pacific division title last season, finishing 11 games clear of the second placed Golden State Warriors.

The Suns finished with a 10-6 record against their division opponents, splitting the season series’ against the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings and the Warriors, while sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0.

On a broader scale, injuries and inconsistencies befell three of the teams as just the Suns and Warriors made it through to the postseason.

The Phoenix Suns are set for a dogfight in the Pacific division as each team contends for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Suns and Warriors are going nowhere – Phoenix will be determined to atone for their disappointing second-round playoff exit, while Golden State will be on the hunt for back-to-back championships and their fifth in nine seasons.

Greater uncertainty and intrigue surrounds the remaining three teams, each of which want to return to the playoff picture. You certainly could have provided your own odds on both Los Angeles’ teams missing the postseason in 2022.

Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges
Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Clippers appear set to be a major contender in the West, boosted by the return of Kawhi Leonard after the two-time Finals MVP missed all of last season. They’ll also be hoping his fellow All-Star wing, Paul George, is more readily available after playing just 31 games due to an elbow injury.

Boasting an incredibly deep and talented roster, the Clippers may have more upside than the Suns heading into next season. However, the injury concerns and continuity issues have been a theme that may well continue.

Their cross-town rivals, the Lakers, are quite literally stuck with Russell Westbrook and his $47 million contract. While he remains on the roster, who could predict what version of them we’ll see next season. One thing is for sure though, the Lakers won’t be easy beats if LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy together and playing somewhere near their best.

The Kings, whatever you think of their plan and direction, are trying to win. It’s clear that the ownership and front office are hellbent on ending the franchise’s 16-year playoff drought. They’ve now added fourth overall pick Keegan Murray whom dominated Summer League and walked away with the tournament’s MVP award.

Murray adds talent to the wing, complimenting explosive point-guard De’Aaron Fox and skillful big man Domantas Sabonis. While we can point at the Kings long-term ineptitude as a reason they’ll go nowhere, this is a fairly talented roster who’s capable of playoff contention.

This leaves the division in a highly-competitive state, potentially leaving the Suns in an incredibly precarious state should they falter through form and/or injury issues.

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The state of play is different – Phoenix won’t get the cushy, comfortable ride to the division title they had last season. Fans are sure to be entertained though as each Pacific matchup prepares to be a tight tussle.