Remember Aron Baynes, the giant colossal of a man that played center for the Boston Celtics the past few seasons? Well, he’s an absolute stud and may be a vital reason the Phoenix Suns make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Deandre Ayton, last seasons number 1 overall pick, is facing a 25-game suspension allowing Baynes to start. Starting gives him all the free reign he could want and boy is he taking advantage.
The Suns are 5-2 thus far and tied for the second seed in the Western Conference. This early success wouldn’t be noteworthy if they had an easy schedule, but Phoenix has taken down some top teams. They have defeated both the Clippers and 76ers, most people’s prediction for the NBA Finals. The reigning champion Warriors also fell to the Suns, but they don’t deserve any props for how they have played this season. Everyone knows Devin Booker is a scoring machine, but he’s been a beast his whole career and his teams always still lost. The difference now is the presence of Aron Baynes and his tangible impact on winning.
Baynes Being a Beast
Before this season, Aron Baynes had career averages of 5.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game and 0.7 assists a game. Despite those low numbers, this season Baynes is averaging 15 points per game and 6 rebounds a game, while also dishing out 3.6 assists each night. Each stat is greatly improved with most of my attention going towards his passing. In Boston, Baynes proved that he could make some nice passes for a big man. This year, many times the play seems to be designed for him to make a nice pass. His passing can be attributed to his newfound scoring as well. He’s taking 4.4 threes a night and hitting nearly half of them. His giant body allows him to be a force in the paint no matter what, so having the ability to shoot makes him even more difficult to stop. I predict that his numbers will drop a bit once Ayton returns, but with how he’s playing it might be wise to keep Baynes in the starting lineup.
It’s hard to confidently say that the Suns will make the playoffs considering they’re the…well…Suns. They have been garbage for years at this point and we should never jump the gun. Beating the Clippers and 76ers does provide a compelling argument to backup Phoenix’s playoff hopes. To boot, the level of competition is clearly more even than it has been since Phoenix last made the playoffs in 2010. I’m not sure how hot this take is anymore, but I predict the Suns will make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed in this NBA season. “The Baynes Effect” is real and Phoenix fans will have to thank him if the Suns keep kicking ass.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)