Chris Paul, Suns looking like title contenders again

Guess who’s winning a whole bunch?
Image: Getty Images

Chris Paul is like that overachieving student who never gets enough credit for doing more than the assignment required. Yes, Chris, your diorama features impeccable detail, but I don’t have a grade higher than an A+ to give you, and you already have enough extra credit that you could not show up for the last quarter and still pass. (You’re also creating a curve for the rest of us that’s taking my solid B and dropping it down to a C-. Sorry, had a flashback.)

Phoenix won their 13th straight game Monday, and the Suns look like title contenders again, despite not being able to sneak up on teams anymore and an investigation into their POS owner Robert Sarver. When the Suns acquired CP3, they knew they were getting a future hall-of-famer and consummate leader. However, they also got a player who has done this before. And by “this,” I mean led a team while its owner was revealed to be every bit as racist, misogynist, and awful as he was rumored to be.

I know Steph Curry and the Warriors are “fucking unbelievable. Oh my god, look at where he shot from! Bay basketball is back — even though we’ve sucked for the majority of our NBA existence!” Can we give the Suns that same slobbery kiss?

As a unit, Phoenix’s top four players in minutes per game — Paul, Devin Booker, D’Andre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges — are shooting nearly 52 percent from the field combined. As a unit, those same four players for Golden State — Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole — are close to 50 percent. (Because this is a fun exercise and because the Lakers get an equally nauseating amount of coverage despite hovering around .500, their top four — Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker — are at 46 percent as a group. Let’s all point and laugh, err, I mean be concerned.)

Back to this nice note from the teacher I have for the Suns. Book, Ayton and Bridges are not only playing great, but none seem fazed by what’s going on off the court with the owner, contracts or otherwise. Bridges got his payday, Ayton has yet to and Booker is dating someone close enough to being a Kardashian to be concerned about a curse.

I wrote about Ayton’s contract situation and Sarver’s history of being cheap before the Baxter Holmes story came out, so he may be optimistic about getting paid. Also, a quick bit on Booker: He looks to have improved his range (38.5 percent from 3 compared with 34 percent last season). He’s also finding teammates more (4.9 assists compared with 4.3 last year) while playing slightly fewer minutes.

Is it (extra) credit to CP3 or coach Monte Williams that none are complacent, disgruntled, or distracted? How about just yes to both? Coach Williams more than deserves this good of a team and the praise he’s getting for the way they’ve played under him since their undefeated bubble run.

Paul was going to improve the Suns and bend them to his will regardless of who the coach was, but he’s not the easiest player to be bossed around by, and they still come across as pretty kumbaya. That could be because they haven’t had enough time to get sick of him yet, he’s matured or the coach is doing a good job of getting them to work well on group assignments.

Then when you look at the role players and bench, none of them suck or are liabilities on either end of the court. Of the other six players in the rotation, only Landry Shamet is averaging less than 8 ppg (7.5). They added Javale McGee to shore up their big deficiency that Milwaukee exposed in the finals, and are flexible enough to match up with small teams, as well.

The only negative is their sorry-ass, racist, evil dean of an owner who needs to go away. Who were Matilda’s shitty parents? I feel like that’s what a parent-teacher conference would feel like with Sarver. How did you create that?

The Suns at 14-3 have the second-best record in the NBA and are exceeding high expectations, yet have seventh-best title odds (+1400). Even Vegas hates them. It’s not like they’re the Jazz, who inexplicably have the fifth-best title odds (+1000) and fail every postseason test.

I don’t know what curve Phoenix is being graded on but even overachievers think it’s unfair.

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