The Phoenix Suns have carried over their momentum from the 2020 NBA bubble, where they went undefeated in eight games, into 2021. The Suns are currently fourth in the Western Conference and are on track to make the playoffs for the first time in over ten seasons.
Paul's veteran leadership has improved everyone's game this season, but the most improvement has been seen in 2019 first-round draft pick, Deandre Ayton. The combination of Booker, Paul, and Ayton this season will cause issues for any team during a seven-game series.
Grading the Phoneix Suns starters after 25 games of the 2020-21 season
Let's take a look at how the Phoenix Suns roster has performed so far this season. For the purposes of this article, we have taken those that are averaging more than five minutes per game and have played in over 12 matches this season.
Devin Booker: A
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 35.3 PPG: 23.8 AST: 4.2 REB: 3.7 FG%: 48.1
Devin Booker is chasing greatness. Booker shared a quote from earlier in his career recently from Kobe Bryant, via ESPN:
[Kobe] told me I have the footwork‚ I have the intangibles to be legendary.
Booker's game has matured each year since he entered the league in 2015. Although the Kentucky product has seen a drop in points and assists this season due to him still getting used to a new partnership with Chris Paul, his ability to come through in the clutch is arguably the best in the league.
Chris Paul: A+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 32.4 PPG: 16.9 AST: 8.1 REB: 4.0 FG%: 47.4
Chris Paul has been the best off-season acquisition in terms of his winning impact. The veteran point guard's leadership has given this Phoenix Suns team a structure and guidance to close out games late.
He has helped lead the Phoenix Suns' to a 15-9 record which is on pace to their best win/loss percentage since the 2010-11 NBA season.
Deandre Ayton: B+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 32.3 PPG: 14.1 AST: 1.9 REB: 12.6 FG%: 57.4
Deandre Ayton is a player for the Phoenix Suns who has always had great upside due to his rare combination of quickness and size. The 22-year-old had a four-game stretch this season where he averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds.
However, there are still times where he lacks energy and plays passively. This inconsistency is something many of his teammates are trying to address in him. Here's what Chris Paul had to say when asked about his starting center's potential:
Everyone on our team is so hard on him because we know what he's capable of. To be one of the greats in our league, you just have to have consistency, and he's more than capable of it.
Mikal Bridges: A+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 33.6 PPG: 14.5 AST: 2.2 REB: 5.5 FG%: 50.6
Mikal Bridges has been one of the gems of the season. He is one of the league's top 3-and-D players, where he has the ability to run defenders off the arc. However, where Bridges has improved the most this season is his ability to make a basket.
Being the third-leading scorer on the Phoenix Suns, Bridges has developed a great mid-range jumpers and has polished his ability to drive and finish at the rim.
Jae Crowder: C+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 27.7 PPG: 10.1 AST: 2.2 REB: 5.0 FG%: 37.0
Jae Crowder has not been able to find his feet with the Phoenix Suns this season after signing with them from the Miami Heat this offseason. He was recently removed from the starting roster due to injury and will have to earn back his minutes.