Friday, December 1 2023

NBA: 2020-21 Phoenix Suns (51-21, made NBA Finals; 34-39, 26-39 pre-NBA bubble)

After 10 years of irrelevance, the Suns’ 8-0 run in the pandemic-caused 2020 NBA Bubble convinced the team’s front office to go all-in with a trade for star point guard Chris Paul the following offseason. With Paul and Devin Booker in the backcourt, Mikal Bridges flourished as a two-way wing and DeAndre Ayton developed his pick-and-roll offense. The Suns rattled off 51 wins before beating the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers to make their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993. 

Phoenix is still all-in on building around Booker after mammoth trades for Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal in recent months.

Men’s College Basketball: 2022-23 Fairleigh Dickinson (21-16, NCAA tournament berth, upset No. 1 Purdue; 4-22 previous season)

When Tobin Anderson was hired from the Division II ranks to take over an FDU team that had won just four games the year prior, nobody expected what would happen next. Virtually nobody gave 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson a chance against No. 1 Purdue after the Knights’ First Four win over Texas Southern

Nobody, that is, except Anderson. The rest is history.

Women’s College Basketball: 2021-22 Utah (21-16, NCAA tournament second round; 5-16 previous season)

Utah rose from the ashes of a pandemic-altered 2020-21 season to make an unlikely run to the Pac-12 tournament title game before losing to powerhouse Stanford. Still, the Utes received their first NCAA tournament bid in over a decade and beat Arkansas in the first round before losing to Texas

The next year, Utah very nearly took down eventual national champion LSU in the Sweet 16.


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