Stephen A. Smith knows the Phoenix Suns are a very talented team and they can compete in the Western Conference but other than that, he doesn't seem them actually challenging the top 3 best teams in the West in the playoffs.
After the Arizona team beat the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, the veteran analyst gave them some flowers but stated that they aren't there yet. If they land another piece, they could finally make the leap and go toe-to-toe with the biggest teams in the conference.
"Not to me, not yet," said Smith on ESPN's First Take.
"You get to plan and lock in and focus on one particular opponent over the stretch of a seven-game series," Smith said. "And I think in this instance, it takes a little bit more when you consider the teams they're going to have to go against."
He added that when you see three teams above the Suns, they're not contenders. Once they make that cut, they could be considered favorites to come out of the West. Devin Booker and Chris Paul have done a terrific job this season but SAS doesn't believe those two will be enough to take the Suns to the NBA Finals.
"When I think title contention, I'm like, OK, what's the odds of this team coming out of the West," Smith said. "If I can pick three teams ahead of you, then I don't view you as that contender. I view you as a legitimate team, a postseason team, but I think they're just a piece away."
Those three teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Utah Jazz. Even though all of these teams have had some bad moments during the season, these three are expected to compete to make it out of the West in a couple of months from now. The Suns rank 2nd in the conference right now, but not everybody believes they will keep this level come playoffs time.
They are a very talented young team and if CP3 keeps defying father time, perhaps we could see them winning it all in a couple of seasons.