A lot of ‘experts’ thought the Suns would spiral out of first place when the news broke of Paul’s hand injury. On top of that D. Book hit the safety protocol and had to miss 4 games. Monty’s boys went 3-1 without the 2 All-Stars including a 38 point scoring clinic from Cam Johnson, including a Game-Winning 30 ft. shot. As a Suns fan, I wouldn’t have been mad at Booker if he would have asked for a trade 4 years ago when the Suns were getting bullied on a nightly basis. Booker has won on every level he’s been on including a trip to the NCAA finals. The Suns organization was a disaster. Then Monty arrives and here we are.
After Booker’s first 4 years, the Suns record was 87-241. Booker’s greatest accomplishment early in his career was a 70 point game in Boston. Earning a reputation as just a ‘scorer’. A lot has changed since that game in Boston. A few run-ins with Kobe and a change of scenery with Monty and CP3 has changed the trajectory of Book’s career. Ironically, Jae Crowder was on that Boston team and he made comments jabbing the Suns for celebrating individual success over wins and losses. Now, insert Monty Williams and the Suns are 145-74. Book was the youngest player in the draft that year and the best veteran player they found to groom him was Eric Bledsoe. That isn’t good enough when you have a rising star in Book.
The moves that James Jones and Monty Williams have made with the roster have brought a ‘championship’ mindset to the desert and Chris Paul is the engine that makes it all work. Many former players aren’t too fond of playing with Paul. Former NBA player Matt Barnes puts it perfectly by describing Paul as an “acquired taste.” In translation, if you don’t LOVE basketball, you won’t gel with CP3. You better be ready to work and win because CP3 holds everyone accountable and he’ll get in your face with zero hesitation.
The mix between free agents and drafted talent couldn’t be more connected. No locker room drama, no off-court drams. This team is filled with ‘true-hoopers’ from top to bottom as Jae Crowder said. Every championship level team has a player like Crowder. He brings the toughness every game that are critical in a 6 and 7 game series. If the Suns were to get back to the finals this would be the 3rd consecutive finals appearance for Crowder who played in the finals for the Heat two years ago.
The ability for Monty Williams to control the locker room egos, not saying the Suns have any, NBA players in general. The expectations have changed in Phoenix and as long as Monty is the main voice, he’ll continue to mold Booker, Bridges, Ayton, and Johnson into a group that made the Spurs so successful with Pop, Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker. Exciting times in the Valley of the Sun! Championships are the only thing on our mind as long as CP3, Monty, and Book are together.