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3 things Phoenix Suns must fix in the new year

Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New Year is right around the corner, and the Phoenix Suns need the resolution to turn things around. The Suns have had a rough patch, which is why some things need to change in order for them to get back on the winning track.

Phoenix is coming off a loss against the Denver Nuggets as they capped off the five-game Christmas Day schedule. Devin Booker tried to play but went straight to the locker room after the first four minutes of the first period. Booker hasn’t fully recovered from the groin injury that had cost him to miss the last three games.

It was a total team effort, where six players scored double digits. Despite that, they lost a tight ball game against the reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic. Landry Shamet led with 31 points off the bench.

As the New Year is slowly approaching, some things need fixing to help the Suns’ season. We’ve compiled three items that could help the team focus on the task at hand.

Related: NBA trade deadline season opens: 10 players possibly on the move, including Zach Lavine

Trade Jae Crowder before the trade deadline

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re approaching 2023, and the Suns haven’t made any serious attempts to trade away Jae Crowder. He’s still with the team, occupying a roster spot that could be beneficial if they had a different player. General manager James Jones is taking too long to engage in any trade talks for Crowder. Additionally, their newly promoted starter had been out since the start of November. The team’s depth has also taken a significant hit, with numerous injuries to the roster. 

Earlier this season, there were rumors that the organization was interested in trading for Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards. Kuzma said he wants out of Washington and would rather play for a big market team or a contender. The Suns are not a big market team, but they are one of the few contending teams that could benefit well if they trade for the 27-year-old.

Maybe the Suns are waiting until the trade deadline on February 9, but it’ll be better if they find a trade early in 2023.

Related: 5 best NBA Christmas Day games in history

Chris Paul’s efficiency needs fixing

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul isn’t an exception when it comes to having preseason jitters. He struggled to make shots during the first month of the 2022-23 campaign. Paul averaged 9.5 points, 9.4 assists, and 4.5 rebounds in his first ten games while shooting 36.8% from the field and 27.3% from the three-point area. Following that, he sustained a heel injury that cost him 14 games on the sidelines. 

Paul returned to the lineup recently and has had a few good games after his injury. He’s still not consistently shooting the ball and has had five games where she shoots poorly, especially from downtown. The 12-time All-Star is starting to find his stroke since returning from his injury. It’s a good sign for the Suns, as they are still looking for efficient contributors to keep their status as title contenders.

CP3 has been crucial to the team’s success in the past. Despite his age, he can still contribute big time to the team going forward too.

Related: NBA Power Rankings: Brooklyn Nets continue top 10 rise

Deandre Ayton should show more assertiveness

deandre ayton
Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Deandre Ayton is coming off an offseason where he signed a four-year $133 million deal. Many expected him to play better than last season, but he isn’t playing any differently. Ayton has been inconsistent this season. The Bahamian center’s averages this season looks identical to his previous campaign, only this time with fewer rebounds. For a big man who’s almost seven feet tall, Ayton has four games where he registered five or fewer rebounds. It’s not much, but it shows that in those games, he was passive.

It’s also noticeable that he tends to get lost on the court. Defensively, the opponent’s bigs don’t seem phased whenever they see Ayton as their defender. His teammates and coaches rely on him to protect the rim with confidence. The former top pick hasn’t improved as a defender and is averaging the same amount of blocks as last season, with 0.8. As Phoenix’s final line of defense, he should show more authority on the defensive end. 

For a big man who recently got paid big time over the summer, Ayton’s lack of assertiveness hasn’t been instrumental for the team.

Related: NBA MVP race 2022-23: Nikola Jokic vies for third consecutive award