EMPIRE OF THE SUNS
Heading into offseason, Devin Booker believes Suns ‘changed’ culture
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns won two fewer games this season than last, but looking at strictly records will fool anyone trying to declare a stance on whether or not the Suns have progressed from year-to-year.
The biggest difference is after ending last season losing 32 of their last 36 games, Phoenix went 8-13 in its last 21 games to wrap up this season.
They found their Nos. 1 and 2 for the present and future in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton supported by complementary pieces like Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and T.J. Warren. Those 21 games, even through numerous injuries, were a peek at what’s possible for this group if they stick together and improve.
In a locker room and building that has been desperate for an alteration to the culture, Booker believes that has come.
“I think going into the summer, us as a team, we’re going to take those bright spots when we were playing really good basketball and be motivated by that,” he said. “The culture was changed at that time.”
That, and not a 19-63 mark, is what the Suns are focusing on.
Those stretches Booker references include winning five of seven at two separate points in the season.
In December, a rotation that couldn’t stop shuffling finally settled and was boosted by the arrival of Oubre.
In March, it was more change. Dragan Bender and Oubre’s insertion into the starting lineup along with Tyler Johnson’s presence had another encouraging period brought on.
“Those stretches gave us hope and we’re gonna build on those,” Booker said.
When Booker was asked about his future and how happy he is in Phoenix, he once again reiterated when it was going right.
“Those bright spots have been very bright and the young core that we have moving forward I’m very excited to be a part of,” Booker said.
In the meeting the team had together on Wednesday, Booker said it was an emphasis that they’ve seen what it looks like when it’s working and they know the potential is there.
“We should all take a little bit of that feeling and just want that all the time,” he said.
“This summer we can make tremendous strides to make that jump to the place we’re trying to get to.”