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The Phoenix Suns have a third All-Star on the rise, and it's not Deandre Ayton


For some NBA teams, the brand new season is a chance to build anew, a fresh start, or to make that giant leap to becoming a contender. For the Phoenix Suns, the 2021-22 NBA season will be their redemption year. It is a must that they win the title to avenge their heartbreaking loss last season.

They stayed true to this quest in the offseason by securing Chris Paul over the next five years. They didn’t dare make any drastic trades and kept their core intact. The Suns also added key players like JaVale McGee and Landry Shamet. Fans were already satisfied with these moves, and then, just days before the start of the brand new season, the front office made things a lot sweeter. They inked Mikal Bridges to a four-year, $90 million contract. This development, coupled with head coach Monty Williams’ plan for the guard, may lead to a rise of a third All-Star in Phoenix.

Earlier this month, Williams discussed what he intends to do with Bridges. He’s been very pleased with the guard’s off-ball activity. This coming season, it’s time for Bridges to climb up a notch. He’ll be given the chore of orchestrating the offense from time to time.

"I know he’s going to continue to add to his game. I knew what he could do with cutting and moving without the ball, but now he’s got used to playing with the ball and we need him to. We want to put him in environments that allow for him to be a third option for us on any given night and I think he’s capable,” Williams said, per Zona Hoops of SB Nation

Monty Williams, SB Nation

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Bridges has fully embraced this new role. So much so that his offseason workouts were tailor-made to become a better ball-handler.

Booker and Paul averaged 25.6 points and 16.4 points per game, respectively, last season. Deandre Ayton was their third-best scorer with 14.4 points. Bridges, for his part, wasn’t too far behind with 13.5 points per night. 

The stars seem to be aligning for Bridges. Williams’ adjustment of making him a scoring threat will further beef up his profile as a player. To recall, Bridges was voted 11th in the 10-man All-NBA Defensive Team pool. He received a total of 39 points. LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was the last player who made it in with 43 points. It was heartbreaking, to say the least. But it was also satisfying to see Bridges get the recognition he deserves - he is an elite defender at the most coveted position in the Association.

Speaking of Leonard, we may see Bridges evolve into someone like the two-time NBA Finals MVP: a player who’s a legitimate threat on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. It would be foolish to say Bridges’ defensive tenacity will decline after tweaking his offensive chores.

Two-way players have gained a ton of respect among analysts and fans. If Williams’ master plan goes well, then we just might see Bridges’ first All-Star nod. He definitely has the potential for it.

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