The Phoenix Suns entered the NBA’s restart bubble in Orlando as the 13th best team in the Western Conference and the team furthest back from a playoff spot out all the teams invited. However, the Suns shocked the basketball world, and went 8-0 while coming agonizingly close to making the playoffs. The Suns finished with the same record ass the 9th seed Grizzlies, but lost the tiebreaker, meaning Memphis would move on to the play-in tournament.
Although the Suns missed the playoffs, they still showed some great signs out in Orlando. To start, the Suns finished their bubble games with easily the best net rating in the league at 12.9 (second was Boston at 8.3). The Suns were dominating teams on the court with not only their starters, but also their bench which was one of the worst in the league before the restart. What makes this more impressive is that the Suns accomplished this without a main starter and a main bench player in Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aron Baynes respectively. New addition Cameron Payne (signed during the hiatus) earned the backup point guard role and really energized the bench.
The Suns’ offensive and defensive ratings were second and fourth in the league respectively during the bubble. Although offensive performance may have been slightly boosted due to their 40% three-point shooting (which surely won’t last for more than a stretch of games), it is nonetheless impressive that the Suns were the second-best offensive team out of all the great teams in the bubble. However, the Suns defensive rating was the more impressive of the two stats. In a shooter friendly environment, the Suns were the fourth best defensive team in the league. With many people previously considering the Suns’ defensive efforts to be bad, the Suns proved that they definitely could hold their own end on that side of the ball.
Overall, the Suns were able to handle some of the best teams in the NBA in Orlando. Although the sample size is small, it looks like the Suns have made some major adjustments on the court to show that they belong. To top it all off, players Mikal Bridges, Cameron Payne, and Jevon Carter all expressed on social media that they would like to play out the rest of their careers in Phoenix.
The future of the Phoenix Suns looks to be as bright as their name.
Photo: Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY Sports