The Phoenix Suns are still awaiting who their first-round opponent in the Western Conference playoffs will be.
That’s because the team is coming off its greatest regular season in franchise history with a record of 64-18.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday that there are really only three teams in the NBA who have a legitimate shot at lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy this postseason — only one of which is in the Western Conference.
And that one West team is none other than the Valley’s own Phoenix Suns.
“I’m not buying Golden State,” Marks said. “I’m not buying Memphis. The Doncic injury — certainly I’m not buying Dallas. I think there’s a ton of separation for where Phoenix is and the rest of the team in the Western Conference.”
Marks doubled down on how bullish he is on this Suns team, adding that he believes it’s Phoenix’s depth that made it the NBA’s best regular-season team this year and not the result of other teams playing poorly or being hampered by injuries.
“They’re not up there with that 73-9 Golden State team, but they’re as good as the Kevin Durant Golden State teams. … I think this is a great team,” he said. “It could be one of the all-time great teams if they’re able to win a championship.
“They basically have a little bit of everything and they still have an edge from last year losing in the Finals. Their starters, their depth, they can win a lot of different ways. They’ve proven clutch time — probably the best team we’ve seen in a long time.”
The Suns are currently waiting to play the winner of Friday’s play-in game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers. Phoenix will get to host the victor in Games 1 and 2 on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.
And after an impressive run to the NBA Finals that saw the Suns take a 2-0 lead against the Milwaukee Bucks, Marks believes that experience could propel Phoenix to its first title in franchise history.
“I think the biggest difference is probably the experience factor. I know Chris (Paul) has certainly been in a lot of big games, but I thought there was a lot of newnesses, certainly with Devin (Booker) and Deandre (Ayton) and Mikal Bridges,” Marks said. “I think certainly dealing with a little bit of adversity in that Lakers series has prepared them for the rest of the playoffs. I don’t see them losing a Game 1 or 2 at home this year.
“I think it’s just the experience factor has prepared them and (GM James Jones) has done a good job. He realized that to get through a team like Milwaukee or some of these other big teams — maybe it’s Denver down the road — that you have to address size. You have to get some shooters off your bench, which they certainly did with Landry (Shamet).”