It seems like we have been talking primarily about a certain number of teams constantly early in the season. We all love to watch the Warriors, Lakers, Nets, Bucks, and the teams with the spotlight on, but one team that has flown under the radar while crushing everyone on the way have been the Phoenix Suns.
Shaky start surrounded by off-court drama
After the amazing and surprising Finals run last season that saw the Suns two wins away from a championship nobody expected that team to go too far, but this season expectations have risen, as the appetite of the Suns' players has become insatiable due to being so close to the promised land.
The season didn't start perfect, as the Suns struggled to find the chemistry that graced them last season. To add to the on-court struggles, the off-court drama regarding Deandre Ayton's contract situation and their owner Robert Sarver being accused of misogynistic/ racial remarks just deeply emphasized the struggle around the Suns organization that started off 1-3.
But ever since then, the Suns have been rolling, turning it around, shutting down the outside noise, and dominating. Phoenix is currently on a 13-game winning streak and second in the Western Conference standings with a 14-3 record, only one game behind the Warriors. The whole team has been playing tremendously, as the Paul & Booker duo continues to carry this team.
Steady contributions from Ayton, Bridges, Crowder, Payne, Shamet, McGee, and the rest of the co have been crucial in this run. The strength and depth of the team really showed with Ayton missing significant time during this winning streak, as Frank Kaminsky and JaVale McGee stepped up and filled the void perfectly.
Bridges calls out the mainstream media
Just like last season, one of the essential variables for the Suns' success has been the two-way play from their forward Mikal Bridges. Mikal is averaging 13.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, and 1.0 spg, which aren't really numbers that jump off the board. But every Suns fan knows how much Bridges contributes on a nightly basis. Guarding the best opposing perimeter players and knocking down open shots is the perfect role to complement Paul & Booker.
Bridges talked with JJ Redick on his Old Man and the Three podcast, as the two commented on the Suns' recent success. Redick asked Bridges if he feels like the Suns are being overlooked as a contender this year, and also brought up the fact he has been on ESPN for seven hours that day without a single mention of Phoenix. Bridges shrugged it off and stated how he doesn't care about the mainstream media at all:
"I guess so. I really don't care about that. Who are the people that are overlooking us? ESPN, Fox Sports, NBA TV, them mothеrfuсkеrs, are they the ones lacing up, playing against us?...I don't give a damn what they think."
Mikal Bridges, The Old Man and the Three
That's a pretty good mentality to have, as Bridges and the Suns can only use this lack of respect to fuel them even more and expand their winning streak. One thing is for sure. If they continue to play like this, the Suns will go deep into the playoffs, and then you will be hearing a lot more about them no matter what network you're tuning in.