The Phoenix Suns were the laughingstock of the NBA for a decent stretch in the mid-2010s. Devin Booker famously said that he was done missing the playoffs a few games into the 2018 season, only for his squad to finish last in the Western Conference with a 21-61 record.
Times have since changed, with the new-look Suns boasting the West’s best record (41-9) approaching the All-Star break. Both Booker and teammate Chris Paul are playing at an All-NBA level, and they are well on their way to proving that their appearance in last year’s NBA Finals was not a fluke, as some thought.
Although they have the third-highest odds of winning the Larry O’Brien trophy this year, snagging them now at +600 odds will pay dividends sooner than later.
This is Phoenix’s Year
Phoenix is riding an 11-game win streak that features victories over the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, and Dallas Mavericks, among others. They are well-coached, fundamentally sound, and have a roster full of players that all bring unique skillets to the table but operate under the principles of head coach Monty Williams.
Phoenix has also added size to its roster in the form of Javale McGee, giving them a serviceable backup for DeAndre Ayton. The Suns were often punished on the glass during Ayton’s spells on the bench, but not anymore.
Another key in Phoenix’s rise is their selection of athletic, defensively versatile sharpshooters at wing: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder. These three constantly provide options in the corner for when their teammates need an outlet, and none of them hesitate to switch onto an opponent or dive for a loose ball.
In a world where metrics run the sport, these three are the glue guys that can sometimes be overlooked.
As much as Phoenix is a true team in every sense, they would not be anywhere without Booker or Paul.
Booker’s 25.4 points per night are a team-high, while Paul scores 14.9 and leads the NBA with 10.4 assists per night. Both have also mastered the art of the mid-range, which serves them well in clutch moments down the stretch, or the “need a bucket” portion of the game.
The pair had struggled with criticisms of their influence in the postseason, or in Booker’s case, his inability to even reach one until they both balled out in last year’s playoffs.
Booker helped send the Los Angeles Lakers home in round one with a 30-point half in Game Six, and Paul scored a playoff career-high 41 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. They feed off of one another and can each lead the team when the other is not on the floor, which is also essential.
Looking at who they could be matched up with on the road to the NBA Finals, the obvious choices are Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. They may not have the star power of these other duos, but they are just as effective as them.
There does not appear to be a team consistent enough to stop the Suns from reaching their second consecutive NBA Finals, which would only leave the Eastern Conference’s representatives as the roadblock between them and their first championship.
At +600 odds, the risk-reward ratio on the Suns triumphing over the league is too great to pass up.