The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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The Biggest Difference With the Suns This Year

I am not panicking about the Phoenix Suns preseason start. Not even close.

I'm also not ignoring their preseason so far.

After watching the Adelaide 36ers shoot the lights out in Phoenix and Lebron and the Lakers run the Suns off the court in the first half, I am ready to draw a very simple conclusion:

This Suns team doesn't really care about early season results.

To put it another way, this Suns team knows that no amount of regular season wins is going to magically translate to an NBA championship.

After winning 64 games last year, the most of any team in the NBA, the Suns found out that win total did not get them a head start in a game or a shortened series, it just got them a target on their back.

This Suns team knows making the playoffs is more important than winning the 1 seed.

Sure, home court advantage and favorable opponents await the better seed in the NBA playoffs but at what expense?

This Suns team was drained, depleted and detached from reality at the end of their regular season run last season.

Now its clear their goal is not to set regular season records but to maximize postseason readiness.

Chris Paul looks like he's going to play his way into shape.

It appears Monty Williams is going to let the regular season flesh out whatever issues are still lingering with Deandre Ayton.

The Suns starting lineup is going to take the regular season to see what player gets more shots and more opportunities out of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Ayton.

The Suns bench will likely need the entire regular season to figure out who's worthy of a playoff rotation and who's just along for the ride.

The Suns know they are a good team. They have a starting five that has as much talent, experience and upside as any in the league. What they don't have is much more time to win a championship.

If the Suns hope to keep their championship window open this season that means they have to be okay shutting a few doors in the regular season.

I'd expect a slow start. I'd expect reduced minutes for Chris Paul. I would expect things to look wonky with their rotation for a while. I would expect there to be awkwardness for Deandre Ayton. I would expect there to be lots of trade rumors. I would expect a lower seed than you might be comfortable with.

I would also expect the Suns to make the playoffs and start their season anew.

And as the Suns know, when the real NBA season begins, you better be ready. This year, the Suns hope they will be.

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