The Phoenix Suns have quietly dominated the Western Conference during the first half of the regular season, with Chris Paul leading the way. While Paul may not be seen as the best player on this team, he is the biggest reason for the Suns’ place at the top of the table in the west for the past year and a half. With Paul missing the next 6-8 weeks due to a thumb injury, the world will see how good this team is without the General for an extended period of time.
Let’s be honest about this situation first. Aren’t CP3 supposed to be so anxious to get back to his first and win in the end? NBA ChampionshipI p? If so, he didn’t have to check in for two minutes for the All-Star game on Sunday. Paul knew well before the game that he would be running out of time after the All-Star break, so his spot could have been awarded to another deserving player. For a game where no one is playing hard, it certainly seems to mean a lot to some of these players, Paul is apparently one of them. Another All-Star appearance will do nothing for Paul’s legacy. Winning a ring will.
If I’m a team-mate of Paul’s, I’m not so happy that he is playing in the ASG and already knows about his thumb and the severity of the injury. He didn’t play long, but anything can happen on an NBA field at any time. It doesn’t take much, especially for a player like Paul with his injury history to get injured. It is doubtful to have a serious injury already and still jump on the field in a glorified exhibition game. Perhaps Paul felt he had to appear in the game because of his involvement with HBCUs. A large portion of the proceeds from the All-Star weekend will benefit the HBCU student experience. Anything less than that, and it’s hard to figure out why CP3 felt the need to play. He could still have enjoyed the weekend festivities without actually playing in the game.
With Paul gone, now it’s Devin Booker’s time to shine. There are those who think Booker should be in the MVP conversation. Now he can prove it. We’ve seen what this Suns team looks like with Booker as the leader before CP3 came to Phoenix last year. It wasn’t pretty either. Sure, the Suns went into the bubble 8-0 in 2020, but still failed to qualify for the postseason. Booker and the Suns never made the playoffs in the five seasons prior to Paul’s arrival.
Paul could miss the rest of the regular season with this thumb injury, so all eyes will be on Booker to see how much progress he has made over the past two seasons. Heading into the All-Star break, the Suns held a 6.5 lead over the Golden State Warriors for first place in the west. I saw the Suns lose that lead over the next two months, allowing the Warriors and possibly even the Grizzlies to catch them in the race for home advantage in the west. It’s time for Booker to go crazy and show the world what kind of leader he can be.