Last season for the Suns ended in a game seven blowout where they lost by 33 points. This season will be two years since their miraculous finals run and they stray farther and farther from the championship every year. With minimal movement made by the Suns this offseason, the Suns seem unlikely to repeat a championship run. Here’s why the Suns missed their championship window.
Why the Suns Missed Their Window
When the Suns made their original championship run they had just made the addition of Chris Paul. Paul had recently just revitalized his career in Oklahoma City and was brought on to help the Suns contend. He did just that by providing playmaking as well as leadership. They also had great veteran role players in Cameron Payne and Jae Crowder.
At the time these guys were all huge bonuses to the team and played some of the best basketball of their careers. Paul saw some of the best efficiency in his career shooting 50% from the field and 39.5% from three. He was able to put up 16.4 points and 8.9 assists. Payne also shot well with an outstanding 44% from three averaging 8.4 points. Crowder shot 39% from three.
The next season saw dips in all their efficiencies despite seeing similar team success. Paul went from 16.4 points to 14.7 while also shooting only 31.7% from three. Crowders’ three-point percentage also dropped from 39% to 35% while Payne’s went from 44% to 33.6%. These veterans who were previously seen as huge positives are now becoming liabilities.
Another issue the veterans are seeing is the deterioration of their defense. Paul was seen as one of the best NBA defenders earlier on in his career but lost that respect last postseason after getting torched by Luka Doncic. Crowder also seemed to lose a step after going from one of the grittier players to losing his hustle.
One of the biggest factors that allowed the Suns to see success in their finals run was the injury luck they exhibited. The Clippers have been a title favorite ever since they brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Injuries have hindered their ability to contend but in a year where they’re both healthy again, they hope to contend.
The Clippers are seen as a huge threat in the west but aren’t the only team who will give the Suns trouble. The Warriors recently came off of a championship run and look to run it back. Teams like the Mavericks, the Pelicans, and the Grizzlies also have young stars who have developed over the years and are now in contention. Lastly, the Timberwolves made a huge trade this offseason for former Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and could look to compete alongside all of these teams in a tough western conference.
The western conference is incredibly deep this year as well as incredibly young. As the Suns age, it will only get harder and harder for them to compete. The Suns’ only hope to reopen the window is to make a drastic move and change up this roster. If they don’t do that, it seems the Suns missed their window.