Does Adding Chris Paul Make the Phoenix Suns a Contender in the West?

Attempting to move up the stacked Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns have traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul.

By Stone Lexington

Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 • 6:00 PM ET

The Phoenix Suns will have a new look in 2021.

In an attempt to improve their chances in a loaded Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns have traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul. The question is: will the move turn the Suns into a true contender?

In the deal, according to ESPN, the Suns sent Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Paul and small forward Abdel Nader. Barring injury, Paul should help a Suns team that seemed to take a giant leap forward in the NBA bubble.

When the NBA resumed its 2019-20 season in July, the Suns were one of 22 teams invited to the bubble with a chance to make the playoffs. However, despite going 8-0 in Orlando, Fla., the Suns fell just short of making a play-in tournament to secure a postseason spot.

It wasn’t like the Suns racked up victories against subpar teams on the Walt Disney World campus, either. Of their eight wins, seven came against playoff teams, including the Dallas Mavericks twice, the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, which reached the NBA Finals.

We also saw the further emergence of star shooting guard Devin Booker, whose game-winner against the Clippers was a thing of beauty. Putting a veteran like Paul in the backcourt next to Booker should only help the young star take another step forward next season.

Paul is obviously talented as one of the best point guards in the league, but the glaring question with him is his age. Clearly in the latter stages of his career, Paul will turn 36 years old in May. He doesn’t seem to have lost much in his game, though, as this past season was one of the most impressive of his career.

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The Thunder were not expected to make the playoffs last season, but Paul led Oklahoma City to a 5th seed in the West and nearly a first round win over the favored Houston Rockets, falling in seven games. If Paul led that Thunder team to a 5th seed, the Suns should expect to finish no lower than that next season with a more talented roster.

Phoenix hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2010, but the addition of Paul should end that drought next season.

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