The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Phoenix Suns Threat Assessment 3.0

It might not seem like much but after just one game in the NBA Playoffs, its time to update our Phoenix Suns threat assessment. As a reminder, these are the teams, players or narratives that pose the biggest threat to the Phoenix Suns and their NBA championship goals.

The last time we did this was in late March and there's quite a bit of change. We'll update this after each round of the playoffs as long as needed.

The most recent list can be found here.

Phoenix Suns Threat Assessment 3.0

5. Brooklyn Nets

  • They were first a few weeks ago due to their sheer star power but now cling to the bottom of the list. Here's the thing with the Nets, they could be right back to #1 if they beat the Celtics. If Kyrie and KD are enough to overwhelm the outstanding team defense of the Celtics, I think they are the NBA favorites. However, they are #5 right now because they are down 0-1 to Boston and Kyrie thinks its a good idea to become distracted by fans while playing.

4. The Suns bench

  • Suns have been one of if not THE deepest team in the NBA the last two seasons. That could be changing at the worst possible time. Cam Payne struggled to hit the rim on Sunday night. Landry Shamet was apparently demoted out of the rotation by Monty Williams or he's hiding him because of an injury. Torrey Craig and JaVale McGee are fine as niche players but not anyone you want to count on for offense. That leaves Cam Johnson as the only reliable offensive weapon off the bench. We know after watching last season's run you are going to need at least 3 reliable bench players to survive the gauntlet of the NBA Playoffs and right now I'm having a hard time figuring out who will join Cam on that list.

3. Boston Celtics

  • If the Nets win their series against the Celtics, I'd consider them the heavy favorite in the East. The opposite is also true: If the Celtics defense can contain two of the greatest offensive players of this generation, the Celtics are a credible threat to win it all. Sure the Suns have a lot more balance and shooting than the Nets do but Boston won't face a tougher defensive task than stopping KD and Kyrie. The Celtics surge starting in January felt more like a reflection of the wishy washy east but if they win their first playoff series it might've been more like a preview of their title dreams.

2. Golden State Warriors

  • We collectively have a short attention span in sports. The Warriors were the early season darlings of the NBA and Steph Curry was the runaway early season MVP front runner. A few months later, the Warriors entered the playoffs mostly as an after thought thanks to some injuries and a lack of impressive wins. Now, it looks like the early season Warriors could be back. Steph isn't 100% but Klay looks as good as he has all year and Draymond is locked in as well. Throw in Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga and the Warriors could be peaking at just the right time.

1. Injuries

  • Luka Doncic, Scottie Barnes and Clint Capela have all recently reminded us of the fragility of a playoff run. After every Mikal Bridges dive or errant shoulder to Deandre Ayton's head or anything around Chris Paul, you quickly realize that health is the biggest factor and the Suns just have to hope they get lucky over the next two months.

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