Phoenix Suns Still Second-Favorites for NBA Championship Glory

The Phoenix Suns‘ long wait for an NBA Championship title could soon be over if the latest NBA betting best odds are to be believed. The Eastern Conference’s high-flying Boston Celtic are the current favorites for 2022-23 NBA Finals glory, with the Phoenix Suns installed as the second-favorites despite languishing fifth in the Western Conference.

The Phoenix Suns have reached the coveted NBA Finals on three occasions only to return home as runners-up all three times. The Suns lost 4-2 to the Boston Celtics in the 1975-76 season, fell 4-2 to the Chicago Bulls in 1992-93, and most recently lost by the same scoreline to the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2020-21 campaign. This season sees the Suns hold a 32-28 record through 60 games, with another 22 fixtures scheduled before the lottery of the playoffs begins.

The Phoenix Suns started the 2022-23 regular season in scintillating form, ending October with a 5-1 record and following that up with a 10-5 record in November, which included a run of six straight victories, prompting Sun fans to dream about become NBA champions for their first time in the team’s history. However, a dreadful run of form throughout December and early January raised plenty of question marks about the team’s chances of clinching the long-overdue title.

The Suns lost six of their opening seven games in December before losing nine of ten games between December 28 and January 16, but head coach Monty Williams has worked wonders and turned around the Suns’ flagging fortune, guiding them to an 11-4 record over the past 15 fixtures.

Why Are The Phoenix Suns So Highly Rated?

The Suns have struggled for consistency during the regular season, resulting in them occupying third place in the Pacific Division and fifth place in the Western Conference. The fact they have not slid down either standings is a testament to how good this Suns team is. Losing Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets was not ideal, especially as Bridges was averaging 17.2 points (he was the highest scorer in 11 games), 4.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. However, seeing T.J. Warren and legendary 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant join the Suns’ roster strengthens an already talented group of players.

Durant is yet to play his first game in a Suns uniform as he is recovering from an MCL injury sustained while with the Nets, but everyone knows Durant’s ability. Through 39 games for the Nets this season, Durant is averaging 29.7 points, 5.3 assists, 6.4 defensive rebounds, and 6.7 rebounds. Once he is fully fit, Durant will give the Suns more attacking options.

Another reason for bookmakers fancying the Suns’ chances is the age-defying Chris Paul. Aged 37 years old, Paul continues playing some of the best basketball of his career and recently surpassed Michael Jordan‘s NBA all-time career steals lost; Paul now has the third most steals of any player in basketball history. The playmaker has chipped in with 13.7 points per game and 9.1 assists.

Then you have the talented duo of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Shooting guard Booker is now in his eighth season with the Suns after being drafted 13th overall in 2015. He will almost certainly finish the season with career-best points per game as he is currently averaging 26.6, and his best was in 2021-22, where he averaged 26.8. Booker also creates many chances for teammates, with 5.5 assists per game on top of 3.8 defensive and 4.5 offensive rebounds.

Ayton was the first overall pick in 2018, and it is easy to see why. The 7ft 0in center has all the attributes to become an NBA superstar. ESPN analyst Jay Williams has previously compared Ayton to David Robinson and Anthony Davis, which are high marks indeed. Ayton is currently averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 rebounds and is a crucial component in this Suns side.

The Suns have some challenging fixtures on the horizon, including two games against the much-fancied Milwaukee Bucks, two against the Sacramento Kings, and two in a week in late-March early April against the Denver Nuggets.