The Valley is going back to its Finals roots, bringing back the jerseys that the Finals team in 1992 wore against the Bulls.
Though it resulted in a loss to the one man that stood in every guy’s way in the early 90s and 2000s from winning their first title, the legend Micheal Jordan.
The return of the 1992 jersey can be a surge or spark to build season momentum on, after a horrible team meltdown in the last two games of the playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, the Suns can use anything to draw positive vibes from.
Training camp is closely approaching, and it will soon be time to get off the canvas and face whatever it was that broke apart strong team chemistry that guided them to a 64-win season.
That is a mystery that has gone unanswered, and only the guys involved will know what really transpired, the rest of us get speculation city.
But anyway, the team has brought back every key piece to last year’s team, for now, it’s a run-it-back scenario playing out but the looming trade cloud is still all over this organization.
The trade deadline will be very important, but first, let’s see the start of the season for the Suns who will ironically be kicking off the season where it ended against the Mavs at home.
If everything goes as it should for a team trying to get back its mojo advantage, then the Mavs will stand no chance to the build-up of pressure that will be in these Suns Players at the start of that opening game.
The Suns’ hope is that anger drives this team, just as it did when they came up two games short of a title two seasons ago. There are two key answers to all of the Phoenix Suns issues going into this next season, and if these two issues are corrected they will be the heavy favorite even without a Kevin Durant trade.
Deandre Ayton again is the key to the season.
All things ride on his shoulders, along with the caveat that they have to do whatever it takes to prevent the fading away of their star point guard Chris Paul in playoff stretches.
Those two things will determine the success of this team and also will determine what will be done at the trade deadline in January.
If Ayton has graduated from (potential aggressive big-man) to (physically always aggressive dominate big-man) then the Suns will be in the Finals no doubt.
Take your memory back to the 2000 Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’neal leading them, the main clog to the Championships that came from that team was the dominance of their star big-man Shaq.
When a presence is that dominant it can compensate for a lot of deficiencies, such as matching up with elite perimeter teams like Golden State and Dallas and destroying them in the paint.
Defending the paint in the playoffs and scoring as well is still the formula that wins championships, a half-court offense and defense are still essential when the game slows down to keep a team able to battle through any adverse situation.
Ayton needs to get to or close to a Shaq-like level of domination, and that will not happen until he realizes there is no such thing as Finesse when you’re 7 feet 260 plus pounds in the paint.
When he makes the conscious effort to never lay the ball up and dunk everything and on everything moving, this team will be unstoppable.
Aggression is the name of the game for guys the stature of Deandre Ayton, that is what has been lacking in the last two years during playoff runs in the pinch.
Physical no-nonsense aggression on a nightly basis from Ayton is the only way the Suns stay relevant in the tough gauntlet that is the Western Conference.
As for the star point guard and his health, load management has never been the Suns’ style but in this case, they have no other choice.
Chris Paul has been the staple to the entire operation turning the corner from a team on the brink of success to being actually a team that is in contention every year.
Chris staying healthy has been the question mark of his entire playoff career, and it’s been his own stubbornness in many instances that allow him to not be available when the team needs him most.
It is vital to save or preserve Chris throughout a long meaningless regular season, and keeping him as fresh as possible for the last two rounds of the playoff is the goal somehow for this team.
Here lies another deficiency that an aggressive Ayton will rectify, and that’s keeping Chris fresh for the moments when they really need him to be super Chris.
Ayton dominating in the paint will make it easier for Chris, allowing him to roam free without being blintz or doubled, and also on the defensive end can cover up his (lost a step) liability as a defender.
No matter what went wrong last season we know it had to be tied into these two guys and their chemistry, if the continuity between Ayton and Chris is disrupted then the entire operation looks disjointed and confused.
This is what we saw in that pivotal game seven at home as the better team, and came up embarrassing so short to an inferior Mavericks team at best.
When the season starts let’s keep our eye on the relationship between Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, that will tell you the future of the Suns at the trade deadline and if they will compete for a Title in 2022.
Can Chris let up on DA and allow him to grow, or does he have to continue to ride him for excellence because he knows that without him he can’t get the ring he’s coveted all his career?
Or will Ayton be able to take the constructive criticism from his point guard, much like he did the first season, will he break under that pressure and want to swim on his own and can’t be talked to anymore on the floor? These are important questions, the answers are to be determined and hold all of the Suns’ season success in the balance.
There is an old saying amongst teams in pro sports, “We don’t have to like each other to play together and be successful” this is the mentality these two guys have to live by if the Suns are going to get another shot at their first ever NBA Championship.