The Phoenix Suns go bankrupt in the attention economy


Chris Paul and Devin Booker form a dynamic backcourt for Phoenix.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker form a dynamic backcourt for Phoenix.
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Chis Paul is the Copernicus of the NBA. He must be the offensive axis, and his arrival placed the Suns near the center of the NBA galaxy. The heliocentric era of the Western Conference began, and we didn’t even know it, because everyone loved to talk about the Lakers, Nets, Sixers, and Warriors.

But it is Phoenix who has the best record in the league at 46-10.

CP3 has always been the most independent member of the Banana Boat crew. While Carmelo, LeBron and Wade came into contact at various points in their careers, CP3 has gone solo. CP3 is a control freak, which may be why hhe has never looked for a super team like his colleagues. Perhaps he’s self-conscious enough to know that his raunchy autocratic style could have created a rift like the one between James Harden and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn? Whatever the excuse, that solo career has come to an end at the end of his career. In his second season with the Phoenix Suns, the CP3s have never been more content.

It’s abnormal to see a top 75 player discover his Goldilocks Zone after a series of stints in solid but not quite ideal habitats this late in his twilight, and before it’s too late for him to access his Hall of Fame repertoire. Stumbling into a backcourt with Devin Booker had to be a bittersweet combination due to their mismatched career timelines.

A 2-guard with Devin Booker’s qualifiers should be celebrated more, but discussions about him this season have been quiet. No one wonders if he’s an All-Star, but if you started a team from scratch, he wouldn’t be with most fans‘ top 10. Part of it may have to do with the reality that his athletic limitations make him more Paul Pierce than Kobe Bryant. In tribute to Kobe and Pierce, Booker sucks more mid-range jumpers than all but two players.

Mikal Bridges is a stable 3-and-D-and-D-3 (dribbling and driving forward) wing whose impact is equal to what Andrew Wiggins is take it to Golden State. Not only is he a potential first-team All-Defense wing, but he’s posting close to 50/40/90 averages in his fifth season.

CP3’s tortuous career has taken him from New Orleans to the Lakers, Clippers, Houston, Oklahoma City, and Phoenix, where he was the key to unlocking a latent Western Conference superpower. In his 18th season, Paul averages more assists per game than since 2014. He shoots 48 percent of the field ad and serves as the foundational pillar of a team that ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio, effective field goal percentage, and can score efficiently anywhere on the field.

While other contenders are undergoing facelifts and total rebuilds, the Suns have remained in amber from the unit that rolled across the West to the NBA Finals. Their failure in the final a year ago left them with the scar tissue of a resilient championship leader. They maintained a top-five defense anchored by DeAndre Ayton, adding Javale McGee. Injuries weren’t enough to slow the Suns down either. Ayton missed seven games and Phoenix signed Bismack Biyombo to a 10-day contract that turned into a contract for the remainder of the season, winning seven games.

Phoenix hits the stratosphere as the Nets crawl out of their 11-game losing streak. They beat the Magic, Bulls, 76ers and beat the Bucks by 24 points. But all everyone wants to gossip about is how Simmons’ broken jump shot will play out in Brooklyn or, for Harden and Daryl Morey, how proving their successes can translate into post-season prosperity.

It’s time to show love to the Suns squad who have been in a steady relationship with the No. 1 seed in the West since Opening Night and haven’t looked back since.

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