After the Phoenix Suns returned to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993, fans of the NBA got a glimpse of just how good the team from Arizona is, and in losing to the Milwaukee Bucks, are the Phoenix Suns hungry enough for an encore?
The Phoenix Suns essentially have two MVP caliber players in Chris Paul and Devin Booker. While Paul has received much of the limelight in the press, Booker is just as deserving for performing as expected. The key is if Deandre Ayton is ready to ascend himself and galvanize a Phoenix Suns version of a big three.
As long as Chris Paul is healthy and Devin Booker continues his assault on everything on the perimeter and in his path to the basket, the Phoenix Suns will be in the thick of it.
The Phoenix Suns played the most minutes together of any NBA team, and the combination of having a head coach in Monty Williams who knows what it takes to win as a player, and a player in Chris Paul who's assuredly a head coach himself, running plays must be second nature for the Phoenix Suns.
The ease of knowing each other on the floor at different stages of their basketball careers must give a perspective on how to meld a versatile team hungry for validation.
Coming off a year where the 24-year old Booker averaged 26 points, 4 dimes and 4 boards on 48% shooting from the field overall and 34% from the arc, one has to wonder what is next for the 13th pick in the 2015 NBA draft out of Kentucky.
The shooting guard has been named to two NBA All-Star games, and you'd think that as he gets a taste of NBA team success, the hunger for more will show in his performance.
Booker was steady in the playoffs with total numbers of 27 points, 6 rebounds and 5 dimes in 22 games where the Phoenix Suns won 14 and lost 8, finishing as NBA runner up.
The 23 year old out of Arizona -- who was the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft -- averaged 14 points, 11 boards and a block per game in 2020-21. Those numbers rose to 16 and 12 in the playoffs, and while Ayton disappeared at times, the experience of battling Giannis Antetokounmpo on the biggest stage should mature him in the most nuanced ways.
Chris Paul has spoken about the maturity he sees in Ayton, and if the Phoenix Suns seek to repeat the success of last season, it's inherent for Deandre Ayton to advance his game to the next level.
Chris Paul has seen the game of basketball through the eyes of a young phenom, a veteran stalwart and now a grizzled MVP candidate and almost champion. Paul is definitely not one to be satisfied with second place in anything, yet that Paul was able to play in the Finals merely validates how successful he's been throughout his career. Winners win.
Injuries always seem to become an obstacle for Paul not to be the last man standing, yet the shoulder chips and lessons learned over his storied career hopefully will someday benefit an NBA where he's a head coach.
Phoenix Suns' competition
The Phoenix Suns were fortunate to catch weakened teams in their run to the Finals: Anthony Davis was injured in the Phoenix Suns' first-round victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Jamal Murray was out in the Suns' sweep of the Denver Nuggets, and Kawhi Leonard was sidelined in the Suns' Western Conference Finals win vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
While uncertainty in both Los Angeles teams exists, the Utah Jazz are ready to challenge the Phoenix Suns for the West crown.
The Phoenix Suns' developing young core of talent - Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne - combined with the addition of sharp-shooter Landry Shamet, the championship experience of JaVale McGee, and the steady play of Jae Crowder suggests the Phoenix Suns will be right back where they left off.
Chris Paul is too much of a leader for the Suns to not finish what they started, so don't be shocked if you see the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals one more time.
ALSO READArticle Continues below
Also Read: Who are Devin Booker’s parents?