Hot Take: the Phoenix Suns are still shining as title contenders


Erik Drost

Erik Drost | Wikimedia Commons

Tarique Stevens

“The Phoenix Suns are the 2023 NBA champions” are the words we could be hearing this June.

Despite a disappointing past two years, the Suns have been a team on the rise. Led by veteran point guard Chris Paul, they went from missing the playoffs to grabbing the top seed in the Western Conference.

Critics point out that the Suns have yet to win the big game. In the 2021 and 2022 postseason, the Suns suffered disappointing losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks, respectively.

These criticisms are valid, but they don’t tell the whole story. The truth is that while the Suns did have a 2-0 series lead against the Bucks, Paul was dealing with a hand injury going into game four of the series.

Even though injuries were not the major cause of the Suns’ downfall in their 2022 run, locker room drama and financial concerns with the team did impact their lackluster performance.

Center Deandre Ayton’s contract was up for an extension, and after a disappointing loss in the 2021 NBA Finals, fans and media experts alike were not sure if the Suns would give Ayton the extension. This led to a lot of drama and media attention during the season, and while Ayton did perform well, it appeared clear to most fans that it was on his mind.

Nevertheless, after not hearing from the team initially, he officially signed a four-year, $133 million contract after receiving the same offer from the Indiana Pacers.

Despite a disappointing last few years, fans of the team should be excited going into this new season, with both injuries and drama seeming to be left in the past. Ayton is secured for the future, and the team still has both Booker and Paul, as well as a solid supporting cast including Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.

This team still has tremendous upside and room for growth. With the guidance of head coach Monty Williams, it is possible for the Suns to go all the way this coming season.