The 2019-20 NBA season went on hiatus on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic . The season will return on July 30 and NBA.com‘s writers are taking an updated look at each of the league’s 30 teams.
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Record: 26-39, 13th in Western Conference
Season summary: Phoenix was without former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton for the first 25 games following a positive test for a diuretic, which violated the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug program. That made new coach Monty Williams’ debut season a rough one from the start. Once Ayton returned to the lineup his suspension, the Suns were a sub-.500 team and remained that way. Still, the club managed some positive stretches helped by newcomers like point guard Ricky Rubio and center Aron Baynes, who was a big help in the paint during Ayton’s suspension. They’ll get a shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2010 as one of the 22 teams in the season’s restart.
Breakout player: Kelly Oubre Jr. was rewarded with a two-year contract in the offseason not long after arriving from Washington and immediately paid off as a No. 2 scoring option alongside star guard Devin Booker. He’s having a career-best season, averaging 18.7 ppg and shooting 35.2% on 3-pointers and is the Suns’ No. 2 rebounder (6.4 rpg). However, he will miss the season restart because of a torn meniscus.
Statement win: It wasn’t a team statement as much as an individual one when Rubio returned to Utah and flexed on Feb. 24. The Jazz passed on re-signing him last summer and instead traded for Mike Conley. However, Rubio has enjoyed better moments with his new team than Conley has in Utah for much of 2019-20. That was all evident in a 20-point Suns when Rubio ran wild (22 points, 11 assists, seven steals) while Conley struggled (eight points, three turnovers).
Most compelling or exciting game: The shooting brilliance of Booker was in full effect on Nov. 23 when he took down Minnesota and closed out a two-point win with a step-back jumper in the final minute. That came when he isolated on Karl Anthony-Towns, drove against the seven-footer then deftly used a step-back to create space for the shot. Booker then made two free throws to ice the win. He scored 35 points with 12 rebounds and nine assists in what was perhaps his finest all-around game of the year.
Memorable moment(s): The Suns beat a Clippers team on Oct. 26 without Paul George early in the season behind a 30-point game from Booker. Months later, the Suns scored a 36-point win against a Russell Westbrook-less Rockets team on Feb. 7 behind Booker and Oubre. They combined for 72 points in that game and in that instance showed how potent of an offensive duo they can be when everything is right.
Team MVP: Booker has grown frustrated at times with the chronic losing in Phoenix — he has never come close to making the playoffs — but hasn’t allowed it to stunt his own growth. Only 23, his offensive game is polished as he became an All-Star this season (and was helped by Rubio handling the playmaking chores). Still, Booker is averaging 6.6 assists and ranks high on the list of toughest players to contain.
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