The Phoenix Suns have quietly dominated the Western Conference during the first half of the regular season, with Chris Paul leading the way. Although Paul may not be seen as the best player on this team, he is the biggest reason for the Suns’ seat at the head of the table in the west over the last season and a half. Now with Paul scheduled to miss the next 6-8 weeks with a thumb injury, the world will get to see just how good this team is without the general on the floor for an extended period.
First, let’s be honest about this situation. Isn’t CP3 supposed to be so concerned with getting back to and finally winning his first NBA championship? If that is the case, there was no need for him to check in for two minutes to the All-Star game on Sunday. Paul knew well before the game that he would be missing time after the All-Star break, so his spot could have been awarded to another deserving player. For a game where no one plays hard, it sure seems to mean a lot to some of these players, Paul being one of them, apparently. Another All-Star appearance does nothing for Paul’s legacy. Winning a ring will.
If I’m a teammate of Paul, I’m not too happy about him playing in the ASG already knowing about his thumb and the severity of the injury. He didn’t play long, but anything can happen on an NBA court at any time. It doesn’t take much, especially for a player like Paul with his injury history to get hurt. To already have a serious injury and still jump onto the court in a glorified exhibition game is questionable. Maybe Paul felt like he needed to appear in the game because of his involvement with HBCUs. Many of the proceeds from All-Star weekend will support the HBCU student experience. Anything short of that, and it’s hard to figure out why CP3 felt the need to play. He still could have enjoyed the weekend’s festivities without actually playing in the game.
With Paul out, it’s Devin Booker’s time to shine now. There are people out there who think Booker should be in the MVP conversation. Now he gets to prove it. We’ve seen how this Suns team looks with Booker as the leader before CP3 came to Phoenix last year. It wasn’t pretty either. Sure, the Suns went 8-0 in the bubble in 2020 but still didn’t qualify for the postseason. Booker and the Suns never made the playoffs in five seasons prior to Paul’s arrival.
Paul could miss the rest of the regular season with this thumb injury, so all eyes will be on Booker to see how much he’s really progressed over the past two seasons. Heading into the All-Star break, the Suns held a 6.5 lead over the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the west. I could see the Suns losing that lead over the next two months allowing the Warriors and possibly even the Grizzlies to catch them in the race for home court advantage out west. It’s time for Booker to ball out and show the world what type of leader he can be.