PHOENIX SUNS

The Ringer’s O’Connor has 3 Suns earning NBA season honors

May 10, 2021, 12:30 PM
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams talks to Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) and Suns forward ...

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams talks to Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) and Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) during a timeout in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Sunday, April 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

A meteoric rise by the Phoenix Suns this season has a handful of their contributors being named as top candidates for the NBA’s regular season awards.

At The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor’s ballot for 2020-21 regular season honors includes three Suns — but none of them are Devin Booker. Monty Williams (NBA Coach of the Year), point guard Chris Paul (All-NBA Second Team) and wing Mikal Bridges (All-Defensive Second Team) earned recognition from O’Connor.

Paul did not make the cut as a top-five player in the MVP debate, though there’s a chance he could still sneak in to O’Connor’s list by the end of the week.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic appears to be a head above the rest of the candidates, but Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry are right in the conversation.

O’Connor certainly believes Paul should land on an All-NBA team, but he doesn’t have room for Booker, who is averaging 25.5 points and 4.4 assists per year.

And with every choice, I tried to weigh both ends of the court with games played and intangibles. That’s why Paul is getting some top-five MVP hype and should be a lock for All-NBA. He is averaging only 16 points and nine assists, but he gives his team what it needs to play at an optimal level. He remains a dominant playmaker and clutch shotmaker. He sets the tone on defense. And he’s played all but one game, establishing culture and bringing leadership every day.

I’ve had multiple front office executives argue that Paul should be first or second on All-NBA ballots. What they’re really arguing for is an acknowledgment of the unmeasurable yet known impact he makes beyond the stat sheet. It will be fascinating to see what other voters decide.

What’s another realistic avenue for the Suns to get some acknowledgment?

Williams has juice as the top NBA Coach of the Year candidate, not only because his team appears set to finish with the second-best record in the Western Conference, but because other teams don’t have that fresh of a narrative factored in.

The Bucks, Sixers, Lakers, Jazz, Clippers and Nuggets have won before this season and were expected to compete for a title.

Like the rising Suns, the New York Knicks are a surprise this year. Head coach Tom Thibodeau is Williams’ biggest challenger for the honor because of his team’s respective turnaround, writes O’Connor.

Williams will be my choice to win Coach of the Year after installing new wrinkles in Phoenix seemingly each month this season. He has cultivated an unselfish environment, blending veterans and young players, all for the common goal of winning games.

On the All-Defensive Second Team, Bridges makes the cut. O’Connor has an All-Defensive First Team backcourt of Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, plus All-Defensive Second teamer Matisse Thybulle of the Sixers joining Bridges.

Ultimately, Bridges and Thybulle get the nod for the second team guard spots. Bridges is the centerpiece of Phoenix’s sixth-ranked defense. The Suns use him as an on-ball stopper across all positions, and he’s active and smart defending off the ball.

Phoenix Suns

NBA player JaVale McGee #00 of the Phoenix Suns takes batting practice prior to a game between the ...
Character Counts

JaVale McGee takes BP ahead of charity softball game at Chase Field

Phoenix Suns center JaVale McGee will host his Water For Life Charity Softball Game at Chase Field on June 22. Tickets are already on sale.
1 day ago
NBA player JaVale McGee #00 of the Phoenix Suns takes batting practice prior to a game between the ...
Kellan Olson

JaVale McGee on charity softball game, end to season, future with Suns

JaVale McGee told Arizona Sports about his Juglife Foundation, its charity softball game at Chase Field, his free agency and more.
1 day ago
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) celebrates next to guard Klay Thompson (11) durin...
Associated Press

Warriors close out Mavericks in 5 games, advance to NBA Finals

The Warriors advanced to their sixth NBA Finals in the past eight seasons by beating the Mavericks 120-110 on Thursday.
2 days ago
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns is fouled by Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the s...
Haboob Blog

ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins confronts Pat Beverley over Chris Paul criticism

Kendrick Perkins confronted Patrick Beverley about contradictions in his analysis of Suns G Chris Paul and James Harden on ESPN's First Take.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) smiles after a three pointer against the New York Knicks ...
Arizona Sports

Cam Johnson buzzer-beater, Devin Booker style up for NBA fan vote

Two Phoenix Suns are up for a vote in the 2021-22 NBA Fan Favorite awards honoring the best of the regular season.
4 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game One of the Western Conference Se...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker earns 1st Team All-NBA, 1st Suns player to do so since 2007

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker has long been disrespected nationally but this season he has been properly recognized.
3 days ago
The Ringer’s O’Connor has 3 Suns earning NBA season honors