1993 or 2022? Who was the better Phoenix Suns team?

Phoenix Suns, Charles Barkley (Photo credit should read PAUL GERO/AFP via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Charles Barkley (Photo credit should read PAUL GERO/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Chris Paul Chris Paul and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Chris Paul Chris Paul and Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

How do the 1993 and 2022 Phoenix Suns compare?

At the highest level, basketball is a sport dependent upon individual matchups above all else. It appears that the 1993 Suns will have a crucial advantage at the power forward position.

Charles Barkley, a true power forward, is dominating anyone on the 2022 Suns. Barkley has a 20-pound weight advantage on Jae Crowder, who is hypothetically the best matchup for the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’, but struggled mightily in last season’s playoffs. Barkley will overpower Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson; he will blow by Deandre Ayton off the dribble.

Moreover, Barkley was extremely underrated as a help defender. He was known for playing the passing lanes on defense. Barkley can “hide” on Crowder defensively and play free safety on defense against the Paul/Ayton pick-and-roll. Barkley’s defensive activity will disrupt many of the 2022 Suns offensive actions in a half-court setting.

Furthermore, the 1993 Suns can slow down the Chris Paul and Devin Booker backcourt. Kevin Johnson and “Thunder” Dan Majerle would shock today’s Suns fans with their athleticism and physicality in how they defend the Point God and Book, respectively.

Mikal Bridges is not guaranteed to dominate his matchup against Richard Dumas. The latter had a lot of talent but substance abuse issues cut short his NBA career before it could really begin. Prior to the 2021 NBA Finals, Dumas was interviewed about his modern day counterpart Mikal Bridges.

"“It’d be a battle,” Dumas said. “Me in my prime and him right now, it’d be a battle. My wingspan is about 7-foot, too. His (at 7-foot 1 inch”) is extreme.”"

Dumas and his teammate Cedric Ceballos would more than hold his own against the Bridges/Johnson/Crowder trio on the wing. I would consider that matchup slightly more advantageous to the 2022 Suns but not by a whole lot.

The obvious advantage the 2022 Suns have is at the center position. Deandre Ayton would need to run his counterpart Oliver Miller out of the gym. Ayton was the team’s second-leading scorer at 17.1 points on a career-best 63.4% shooting from the field. Miller was reportedly one of the heaviest NBA players ever and therefore struggled with his conditioning.

Barkley would most likely close out this game at center. Ayton would have to step up his game dramatically to fly with the Goodtime Blimp. If Ayton plays up to his massive potential, then the 2022 Suns would have a strong chance to secure bragging rights for decades to come. With Ayton at peak form, the 2022 Suns are the better overall team on paper in my view.

Next. Phoenix Suns face a perilous, lose-lose situation across 2022-23 regular season. dark

However, my gut tells me Barkley is going to will the 1993 Suns into winning this hypothetical game in an alternate universe. Imagine if Barkley goes off for 40 points and 15 rebounds then calls out his TNT broadcast colleague Shaquille O’Neal (another Suns legend) in his postgame interview.

My prediction: The 1993 Suns win 115-109.