The Zion Williamson Conspiracy Theory Behind the Sunrise Sun


It’s all Zion Williamson’s fault.

He’s not with the Clippers. He’s not on the Phoenix Suns. But depending on your collection of tin foil hats and contacts in the deep state of the NBA, he’s why the Suns have been basketball’s hottest team since last August, playing the Clippers in the Western Conference final.

The theory goes like this: in order to improve odds for the NBA’s return to the bubble last year, the league wanted to make sure Williamson’s New Orleans Pelicans had a chance at the playoffs. And to shield their capitalist impulses, they added more teams from the playoff picture.

That meant the Phoenix Suns received a surprise invitation to keep their season alive, the 21st of 22 teams sent to Orlando, Florida (only the Washington Wizards had a worse record).

So thanks to Williamson, the Suns were able to build confidence and momentum by winning eight straight games in the bubble while setting the stage for their Western Conference final a season later.

The truth is not that funny. NBA sources insist that Williamson’s inclusion in the bubble wasn’t a factor, but that the league just wanted teams to battle for a playoff spot and play as many games safely as possible.

It won’t stop everyone from discussing the NBA’s intentions. But the results? You are undeniable.

The Sun’s eight-game winning streak in Orlando laid the foundation for another eight-game winning streak that spanned the three rounds of this year’s playoffs.

“Outside of the teams that either won the championship or fought for a team, we had the most to win because a lot of people thought we shouldn’t have been there,” said coach Monty Williams on Monday. “For us it was like a third training camp for us. We had the preseason training camp and then the madhouse [pre-bubble] Training camp, and then we had to go to Orlando and have another training camp so we could continue our program. Then we were just lucky enough to play well, win a lot of games and build a lot of confidence. “

The clippers shouldn’t be surprised. You had an early look at the Phoenix Transformation.

As the teams got used to the bubble ball, Devin Booker stunned the Clippers with a last-second jumper to break a tie and give Phoenix a win. The shot became one of the most iconic pieces of the experiment, an impossible turnaround when Paul George was inches away.

By then, Booker had established himself as one of the NBA’s purest scorers, a 23-year-old with a bag of tricks and traits normally reserved for more experienced players.

In the NBA they call players like Booker a “tree-level scorer” because he poses a threat from the depths, from the middle and on the edge. Booker had been around for a while.

The boast was there too. After Booker’s rookie season, Williams saw the young Guard take it on with members of the 2016 U.S. national team.

“You could tell he wasn’t afraid to go up against the top guys,” Williams recalled.

That confidence has spread among his teammates – you can see it in big punches drained by third year striker Mikal Bridges, how sophomore striker discovers Cameron Johnson, or how journeyman guard attacks Cameron Payne. And you can see Center Deandre Ayton starting to look more and more like a complete player by the third year.

Add in a seasoned star like Chris Paul and established role-players like Jae Crowder and Dario Saric, and the Suns are three wins from the NBA finals.

“When I got here, Coach started texting to me, ‘Man, I think we’re a championship team,'” said veteran watchman E’Twaun Moore. “… He pretended we were that team.”

If the suns hadn’t been absorbed into the bubble, Williams and Co. couldn’t have been so sure they were a contender.

“It gave us a lot of momentum into the season; a ton of swing, ”said Johnson. “Furthermore, let’s say we didn’t even make it into the bladder. That’s many months without being together as a team.

“The fact that we’re getting into the bubble, getting close to the playoffs, maybe not making it, but it gave us a lot of steam and momentum, it kind of showed that the work we did, the culture we built , begins to pay off. The start of the season has given us a lot of fun. “

Clippers-Suns finale schedule

(Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)

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