How the Phoenix Suns have emerged as legit contenders

The Phoenix Suns are one of the hottest teams in the league heading into the NBA All-Star break, with convincing February wins over Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Boston, Dallas, and Portland.

Following the Suns’ 132-100 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix’s record is good for 4th overall in the Western Conference. They’re only 4.5 games back of the league-leading Utah Jazz.

If it wasn’t for a disappointing 24-point comeback that lifted the Nets over the Suns on Tuesday, Phoenix would have won 13 of its last 14 games.

Still, nine of 12 isn’t anything to look past.

The Phoenix Suns’ big-three of Devin Booker, Chris Paul & Deandre Ayton have been leading the way, with considerable help from former Villanova guard Mikal Bridges.

Devin Booker is averaging over 24.7 points per game, good enough to finish fifth in All-Star voting for the Western Conference’s starting backcourt.

Chris Paul is doing what he does best, leading the team in assists with 8.2, plus that was good enough to finish seventh in the same vote. The reserve spots will be announced on Feb. 23.

Third-year big man is living up to being the first overall pick in 2018, Deandre Ayton is averaging a double-double, 13.9 ppg and 11.9 boards. The success, starts with this trio, but they’re only the start.

The Phoenix Suns have seven players averaging double figures in points. It includes pleasant surprises from Mikal Bridges (13.9) forward Dario Saric (10.9) and second year small-forward Cameron Johnson (10.3).

RELATED: NBA Trade Rumors: This Rockets-Suns trade features PJ Tucker to Phoenix

Veteran Jae Crowder rounds out the list of seven players with over 10 ppg, averaging 10.3.

The key to the Phoenix Suns’ success this season has been balance. So much so, they’re faced with a good problem. The coaching staff decided to send this year’s 10th overall pick Jalen Smith to the G-League. All due to a logjam at forward. The team made the call on Monday so Smith can still get plenty of reps.

Coach Monty Williams has been displaying a no-nonsense attitude, and he was considerably critical of his team after their loss on Tuesday. Recently, it’s been working. Due to their star power, consider the Phoenix Suns a viable threat out of the Western Conference.

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