It is early in the 2019 – 2020 NBA Championship, but a look at the tables shows that predicting the fortune of NBA clubs is a hit-or-miss-but-mostly-miss proposition.
It was expected that the Western Conference would belong to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers of the same city.
Both clubs have been good, but where did the number two team in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns, come from?
The Suns have won five and lost two, putting them tied second in the conference.
Phoenix won only 19 games the entirety of last season. Only the New York Knicks, with 17 victories, were worse.
The Suns handed the Philadelphia 76ers and superstar Australian Ben Simmons their first defeat of the season, winning 114 – 109 on the strength of a second-half comeback of the type that is not the earmark of a club that often phoned in the second half during last season’s competition.
Well, the Suns have an Aussie of their own in centre Aron Baynes.
True, Baynes lists New Zealand as his place of birth, but he played his junior basketball in Queensland and given the flexibility Queensland shows in determining who has the required residency to play State of Origin football, we feel it is not improper to declare that Baynes is as Australian as Vegemite.
While the Phoenix club revolves around the play of guards Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio, it is Baynes doing the dirty work under the rim that allow those two to confidently head down the court on offense.
In last night’s victory over Philadelphia, Baynes scored 15 points, pulled down a team-high seven rebounds and dished out six assists.
The Suns kept Simmons in check, limiting him to six points in 36 minutes of court time.
Lacking a true superstar, complete with superstar inflated ego, seems to be an effective formula for Phoenix in the current season, although judging by last night’s statistics, they will have to lengthen their bench to continue winning.