Suns slip to 4th in ESPN’s NBA power rankings after free agency

Aug 25, 2021, 7:28 AM

The Phoenix Suns slipped one position in ESPN’s NBA power rankings to No. 4 as free agency has settled.

The Los Angeles Lakers passed the Suns to the third spot after acquiring Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony in the offseason.

The Brooklyn Nets and defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks are first and second in the power rankings, respectively.

Phoenix started the 2021 free agency period with its biggest move, re-signing point guard Chris Paul to a four-year, $120 million contract.

Paul’s veteran poise and performance were critical to Phoenix’s success last season. He scored 16.4 points with 8.9 assists per game.

Phoenix also re-signed small forward Abdel Nader and point guard Cameron Payne in the first day of the 2021 free agency period, later retaining big man Frank Kaminsky as well.

Payne played a critical role off the bench for the Suns last year, scoring 8.4 points per game in the regular season with 3.6 assists. In the playoffs, his scoring production ticked up to 9.3 points per game.

Nader played a depth role for Phoenix, appearing in 24 games during the regular season and averaging 6.7 points per game.

The Suns also traded point guard Jevon Carter and their 2021 first-round selection to the Brooklyn Nets for shooting guard Landry Shamet.

Shamet has spent three years in the NBA with Phoenix becoming his fourth team in his career. He played in 61 games and started 12 games with the Nets last year, scoring 9.3 points per game.

Phoenix then used the free agent market to add center JaVale McGee and point guard Elfrid Payton on one-year-contracts.

McGee will enter his 14th NBA season. He enjoyed a regular starting role with the Lakers in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, but only recorded two starts last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets.

He scored 7.3 points per game in 14.7 minutes averaged last season.

Payton started all 63 games he played for the New York Knicks last season, averaging 10.1 points in 23.6 minutes per game.

Phoenix enters the 2021-22 season with a franchise-record 34 nationally televised games on the schedule and +1400 odds to win the NBA championship, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

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