Phoenix Suns 2019-2020 Team Awards
The Phoenix Suns had a very up and down season. They raced out of the gates, starting better than anyone expected with a 7-4 record through their first 11 games despite Deandre Ayton being suspended for 10. However, it was downhill from there as they went 19-35 after that start and currently have a 26-39 record. Whether it was the Ayton suspension, a serious bite by the injury bug or reality settling in they definitely trailed off. Still, they looked much improved and more competitive than they have in a while. Solid ball movement went a long way as they led the league in assists.
Without further ado, let’s get into the Suns’ team awards for the 2019-2020 season.
Most Valuable Player: Devin Booker
Devin Booker is the face of the franchise and centerpiece of the Phoenix Suns. He has been really good for a while but he finally got some respect this season as he made his first All-Star game. Having a career-best .617 true shooting percentage which led all starting shooting guards definitely helped. “Book It” sits at 10th in points per game and the only players to score more on a higher field goal percentage are Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He led the team in box-plus-minus, offensive box plus-minus, offensive win shares, win shares and VORP (Value over Replacement Player) and was the MVP of the Suns.
Defensive Player of the Year: Mikal Bridges
For a team that isn’t known for their defense even though it improved this season (20th defensive rating, up from 29th in 2018-19), it’s hard for a player to get noticed for his effort on that end. However, it’s hard to see Phoenix improving this year without the defense of Mikal. Despite coming off the bench, he was extremely valuable on that side of the ball. He led the Suns in defensive box plus-minus and averaged 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per 100 possessions. In fact, he ranked 18th in steals per game and 13th in total deflections in the entire NBA. He is oozing with defensive potential and is a key piece of the team’s future.
Sixth Man of the Year: Frank Kaminsky
This award also could have gone to Bridges, mainly for the reasons stated above. However, “Frank the Tank” needs to be recognized. Prior to this season, it was looking like he may have been making his way out of the league. However, he did very well for Phoenix and definitely stepped up. Kaminsky scored 11.0 points and made 1.2 threes per game. He was more reliable on offense than Dario Saric, had a higher usage percentage than Ricky Rubio and had the 3rd most assists per game. His offense off the bench surely helped and when he got hurt, it was sorely missed. He wins the sixth man award as well as the keep your NBA Career Alive Award.
Rookie of the Year: Cam Johnson
The Phoenix Suns swapped the 6th overall pick for the 11th to acquire Dario Saric and drafted Cam Johnson. Many people at the time thought it was quite the reach, but Cam has had a pretty good rookie year. He averaged 8.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.6 steals in 20.3 minutes per game, which are decent stats for a first-year player. He was also a consistent part of the rotation, which is more than a lot of rookies can say. So, yes there are several rookies you can say you may have rather selected, but you can’t say he was a bad pick. Also, his shooting translated to the NBA right away and he is already a more than solid three-point shooter. He ranked 3rd on the Suns in threes made (1.9) with the best accuracy (39.7%). No other rookie in the league made more triples at a better clip and only 21 players in the entire NBA made more treys at a better percentage. Shooting is very important in the modern game and Johnson could end up becoming a very good pick.
Most Improved Player: Aron Baynes
It’s very rare for a 33-year-old to be in the mix for most improved player. However, Baynes deserves this award without hesitation as he truly made a leap this season. He put up career highs across the board (field goals, threes, points, rebounds and assists). Perhaps the most impressive improvement was his sudden skill beyond the arc as he made a total of 25 triples in his first seven seasons combined before making 59 this season. He made 1.4 per game at a 35.1% clip which is more than decent. Baynes averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for the Suns and drew the 8th most charges in the NBA. The “Big Australian” brought the “thunder from down under” in the absence of Deandre Ayton and was a huge reason for the team’s early success. When he played, the Suns had a much better chance to win. Unfortunately he missed several games due to injury, which could be why they fell off at the end there. In the 42 games he played they had a 19-23 record (.452 winning percentage) compared to a 7-16 record (.304 winning percentage) when he sat.