Assuming that destiny aligns with the oddsmakers this year, the Phoenix Suns will win the NBA championship. All the futures markets at leading sportsbooks appear to be firmly backing the team coached by Monty Williams, confident they can prove that reaching the NBA Finals last year was no fluke.
In his third season at the helm, Williams has kept momentum going and the team has consistently improved. Although the Suns missed out on the Playoffs during his first 2019-20 campaign, they were no longer one of the most underperforming franchises in the NBA. Still, nobody expected such a swift change in fortunes.
Monty Williams delivers a poignant reflection on how he drew from his own playing experience to coach up Deandre Ayton during last year's Finals run.@Suns face the Bucks in a Finals rematch at 3:30 PM ET on ABC pic.twitter.com/hu11UdRNkH
— NBA (@NBA) March 6, 2022
Last season the Suns comfortably topped the Pacific Division, were second only to Utah Jazz in the Western Conference, and made the most of their first appearance in the NBA Playoffs following a ten-year drought. Despite leading the NBA Finals 2-0 at one point, they ultimately lost the series 4-2 against a resurgent Milwaukee Bucks.
But rather than crying over spilt milk, it appears that losing the NBA Finals has inspired the Suns to do even better. Last season they were the second-best regular season team in the NBA, while during the current season, nobody can match the numbers of this phenomenal Phoenix basketball team, having posted the best numbers by far in the NBA standings.
How personal tragedy changed Williams
Everyone seems to have already acknowledged the fact, this is a completely different version of the Monty Williams who got fired by New Orleans, following five frustrating seasons at the franchise. Personal tragedy following the loss of his wife in 2016 led to a different perspective on life, by the time Williams decided to put himself back into the coaching spotlight.
“I think we’ve both changed,” Chris Paul told the New York Post last year, as the Suns were battling the Bucks in the NBA Finals, having previously been coached by Williams a decade previously in New Orleans. “It was his first time being a head coach, there was a lot of stuff going on. I think experience teaches you a lot,” explained Paul.
"Chris has meant so much to my career, he's meant so much to my life … The darkest moment of my life, Chris was right there. And one of the highlights of my career, he's right there" (Monty Williams) pic.twitter.com/SZZPN2fWk0
— Coach the Coaches (@WinningCoaches) March 7, 2022
“Headstrong” was the word Williams used to describe himself, reflecting on his first head coaching tenure in New Orleans. After being fired by the Pelicans, he took an associate head coach job with Oklahoma City Thunder. Following the death of his wife, Williams then spent two years away from the sidelines, acting as vice president of basketball at San Antonio.
After getting himself back into coaching as lead assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers, Williams was a changed man having become a more well-rounded coach, once handed the head coach job at the Phoenix Suns. “I needed to change so that I could be not just a decent coach, but also somebody that people wanted to work with,” acknowledged Williams.
“Well done is better than well said”
Since his arrival at the Phoenix Suns franchise, Williams has always sported a cap with “WD > WS” emblazoned on the front. This refers to the famous “well done is better than well said” Benjamin Franklin quote, aptly referencing the change in coaching personality of Williams himself, and the mantra to inspire his players.
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Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams on the significance of his hat "WD > WS":
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) July 6, 2021
The value of Williams as a basketball coach is certainly growing, as the Suns underline why most sportsbooks consider them outright favorites for the NBA championship. But even with the best 2021-22 regular-season record, accompanied by the most consistent performances, Williams and this team won’t settle for glowing praise.
Mere words are not enough for Williams and the Suns. They are not interested in the hype or the plaudits, as commentators and NBA experts look at the impressive results. All they are focused on is getting the job done, setting out to accomplish the dream which slipped through their fingers last season. Providing actions continue to speak louder than words, it’s hard to back against this team claiming the biggest prize in the NBA this year.