Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns inch closer to the NBA Finals


Dustin Bradford | Getty Images

Kyle McKee, Sports Editor

A year removed from finishing 10th in the West, the Phoenix Suns now find themselves in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010, according to Basketball-Reference. That’s thanks in large part to Chris Paul.

Back in November, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns traded players Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque, and a future first-round draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the superstar point guard.

Since then, the Suns and Paul have been nothing short of extraordinary.

Phoenix surprised many fans and NBA experts by having the franchise’s best regular season since 2010 and finishing second in a stacked Western Conference.

However, Paul has not had the easiest time as a player in the NBA.

Paul was a part of the New Orleans Hornets team that had to move to Oklahoma City because of Hurricane Katrina. He was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers to team up with Kobe Bryant, but former NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade and Paul was shipped to crosstown rival the Los Angeles Clippers.

With the Clippers, Paul was a part of many squads that never got past the second round of the playoffs in large part due to injuries to either of their three stars: Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Then came Paul’s devastating hamstring injury in Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals. The Houston Rockets were one win away from upsetting the stacked Golden State Warriors, then Paul got injured and the Rockets  lost the next two games and the series.

Many fans and experts believe if Paul had been healthy, the Rockets would have won that series and, maybe, even won the NBA Finals.

Then there’s this year.

The Suns just had their best regular season in over a decade, finishing second in the Western Conference. However, they ended up getting a date to face off against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the first round of the playoffs.

Most fans and experts picked the Lakers to win the series because James and Davis were finally healthy. The Los Angeles team were even the betting favorites to win the Finals.

That bad luck continued into Game 1 of the first round series in which, despite a Suns victory, Paul hurt his shoulder and was in visible pain throughout the game. The Suns then lost the next two games of the series, falling down 21 in a best of seven.

Then Davis, the Lakers superstar, injured his groin in Game 4 of the series. He went on to miss Game 5 and played in only five minutes of Game 6, both Suns victories.

Even though the Suns played well and beat the Lakers, the series could have gone differently had Davis been in good health.

In the Conference Semifinals, Paul brushed off all concerns over his shoulder.

In the Suns’ four-game sweep of the Denver Nuggets, according to ESPN, Paul averaged 25.5 points per game, 10.3 assists per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, 61.7% field goal percentage and 100% from the free throw line.

In the series-clinching Game 4, Paul dropped a game-high 37 points on 14-19 shooting from the field.

After sweeping the Nuggets, the Suns await the winner of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers series, which is currently tied at two games apiece.

If the Clippers beat the Jazz, Chris Paul would have to beat his former franchise to reach his first NBA Finals.