The first Woj bomb dropped on Monday, after the Phoenix Suns acquired Chris Paul, along with a 27-year-old forward Abdel Nader. In return, the Thunder received Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a ’22 first-round pick.
Thus the Suns’ GM James Jones paired the future Hall-of-Famer with his star player Devin Booker, shutting down rumors about the 24-year-old shooting guard wanting to leave Phoenix for the lack of any postseason success. Paul’s addition should be a guarantee for them to end a decade-long drought of not making the playoffs, which, in the short run, should be enough to keep Book in Arizona. It’s already been enough to show a surge in their championship odds, despite the Western Conference gauntlet they’d have to run through.
But how far can they go? What is the ceiling for the Phoenix Suns going into the 20/21 NBA season?
There are at least three teams they’re not going to be better than. No matter how the Suns reshape the roster before December 22, they’re not topping the Lakers, the Clippers, or the Nuggets. Then there’s the Western Conference’s second tier of teams, including the likes of Dallas, Utah, Portland, Memphis, San Antonio, and Golden State. That’s where I would put the Suns.
Barring injuries, they should be in contention for anywhere between No.4 and No.8 eight seed. Even in the case of having to fight for the playoffs through play-in tournaments, having a veteran like Chris Paul on the roster should put the Suns in a great position to sneak into the postseason. So whatever the case ends up being, I expect the Suns to make the playoffs for the first time since ’10, but nothing more than that.
Best case scenario, they make it into the second round. Then, facing either Denver or one of the LA teams becomes inevitable, and making it past them isn’t a realistic scenario for the Suns. Looking at their performance in the bubble, this may come as a surprise for some. But don’t let them being the bubble darling and going 8-0 fool you. The way teams were load managing their superstar players makes their run somewhat deceiving, and it’s not the standard for people to hold the Suns to.
Before they added Chris Paul, the Suns weren’t a playoff team. With a future Hall-of-Famer on their roster, they are almost a lock to become one. But short term wise, that’s about it. However, this shouldn’t be about milking whatever it’s left out of CP3 for any type of instant validation. This is about him mentoring D-Book and Deandre Ayton, and helping them take that next step towards maximizing their potentials as NBA’s next big things.
That’s the biggest value Paul brings to the Suns. If somewhere along the way, he helps them make a significant postseason push, that’s great. But this is about pledging for the future, and having CP as a mentor is a good place to start.