Should the Dees be concerned about what happened to the Phoenix Suns?

I have a pretty superficial interest in the NBA.

I like it. The sport itself is incredible and the athletes who play it are, in my opinion, probably the best all-round athletes on the planet when you consider their explosiveness, stamina, straight line and lateral speed in addition to the incredible coordination it takes to be an elite basketball player.

What annoys me about basketball is how the concept of a team has been eroded to the point where it’s purely theoretical. As a result, the three teams I’ve had a lot of fun watching this year were the Celtics, a team built around three players they drafted for the same reason, Golden State, and the Phoenix Suns. Why the suns? They’ve only been together for two years.

Two words.

Chris. Paul.

The man is like a great conductor when he is singing. He is in complete control of a basketball game. You hear so often about point guards that “he’s a great quarterback”. My untrained eye usually can’t really see it, but with Paul it’s like seeing Tom Brady pulling the strings.

You can see him talking constantly, always in the right place defensively, especially as his defensive skills have diminished on the ball, but on offense he is special. Like a mafia, he decides which senator to bribe to get a gambling license. He carries the game in his pocket, in total control of the proceedings.

He is constantly delegating, making sure people succeed and making sure everyone is in the right place to play the game as efficiently as possible.

Chris Paul

(Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

But there are times when the stakes are on Chris Paul turning into Tony Soprano after being shot, forcing him to reassert his dominance.

While Tony beats the extremely muscular Penne Matriciana (because he gets so mad, it’s like he’s got chili flakes up his ass) to reaffirm who the gorilla is in the family, Paul does it with a deft midrange game. He reaches his spot at the elbow at this point with sheer trickery and still has enough lift on his jump shot to make it feel like he can’t miss.

Paul made the Suns look like a well-oiled machine in the regular season, leading them to 64 wins while having his usually efficient 16 and 9 night after night. They looked like a shoo-in to make it to the finals in an unusually weak Western conference, we thought. It looked like a miracle would happen to them to at least not make it to the Western Conference final, if not the final itself.

Sounds familiar?

The Dees have now won 17 games in a row. The all-time record is 23. But it’s not just that they win, it’s how they win. They do it while barely sweating. They play teams up close until they get nervous, then they crank it up for five minutes and the game is out of reach.

It’s inconceivable that they could be blown out at this point because their defenses are so strong. First classification in the following categories: opponent point per game difference; opponent within 50s per game; opponent points per game. It’s absurd.

Other than that, they’re third in points per game, first for within 50’s per game and they boast the best roster of top talent the league has seen since those Geelong teams of the late 2000s, or maybe the early Franklin Hawthorn- teams.

They have three players for whom the argument could be made that they are the best at their respective positions in Christian Petracca, Max Gawn and Steven May. Each of those players plays in a different line, if you accept that Petracca and Gawn are more and more largely forward half players.

They play so well together and complement each other perfectly, just like the Suns.

Max Gawn leads the Melbourne Demons out

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Now let’s go back to the Suns, this time with a different mafia pop culture analogy. In the play-offs, like Vito Corleone, Paul was in the godfather† You could tell he still had that relentless streak at times, twice in the first series against New Orleans snatching games away from the Pelicans in the fourth quarter, as Vito had Khartoum’s head ripped off. But really, you could tell from the extra intensity that he, like Vito, was slipping.

In the second round series against Dallas, Paul had clearly fallen and there was no Michael Corleone to bring the slide into oblivion. He only scored over 13 points in the series twice and they were in the first two games of the series. Furthermore, he didn’t play with his usual verve and authority, even though he knew it was the right thing to do.

And if Paul was Vito and there was no Michael, then DeAndre had to be Ayton Fredo. Ayton was an avid gamer and is unlikely to get a maximum contract from the Suns. Ayton played a total non-factor in that second round series, as Fredo fidgeted with his gun while his old man was shot in the back while trying to buy oranges.

So that leaves Devin Booker or Sonny Corleone in this analogy. Clearly talented and has a place in the world but just consistently can’t pick up the slack when his dad slips. Booker regularly attacked in the regular season while Paul was injured but was unable to do it effectively in the play-offs, leaving too much to the aging legs of Chris Paul who is not what he once was.

Sonny, in much the same way, was utterly unable to effectively manage the family. He didn’t listen to his consigliere, kept his father’s office in a disrepair with signs everywhere, and was too easily tricked into his own murder that led to one of the great death scenes in history.

As an aside, has any plan in history ever worked as well as the plan to kill Sonny? That they knew he was going to see Connie and knew which way he was going is wild enough. But also, how did they know the next car would be so far behind. And what about the man in the toll booth? He just hid behind some balsa wood and was okay?

I find that hard to believe, given that the Barzinis were better armed than the US military in 1943, or a small US police force in 2022.

So, could this happen to Melbourne? Doubt it. It’s a team of Michael Corleones. Cold, calculating and almost heartless in the way they dismantle teams.

They’re not incredible personalities, nor do they seem particularly jovial. They are just dominant. Importantly, they played in one major final and won it, unlike the Suns who lost to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the final. They don’t share Chris Paul’s tendency to fail when the moment is greatest.

This is, of course, with the exception of talisman skipper Max Gawn, who has Michael’s ruthlessness mixed with Sonny’s warmth and relative humanity compared to his worthless, cold-blooded brother.

So, should the Dees be concerned about the Phoenix Suns example?

Probably not.

I don’t see them being beaten.

Leave a Comment