Pacific rival missing leadership of Warriors' guard, according to former NBA champion

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Still sitting tenth in the Western Conference with just nine games left in the regular season, it's fair to say the Golden State Warriors have failed to reach expectations this season.

But they're not the only the only team to have undelivered to this point, with their pacific rivals in the Phoenix Suns also struggling to reach the championship aspirations set upon them prior to the season.

Kendrick Perkins believes the Phoenix Suns are missing the leadership of Golden State Warriors' veteran point-guard Chris Paul

After a second-round defeat to the eventual champion Denver Nuggets in last year's postseason, the Suns took another major swing by moving veteran point-guard Chris Paul to the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal in the offseason.

That was the second of three huge Phoenix trades dating back to last season's deadline -- they moved heaven and earth to get Kevin Durant last February, before also moving on from former number one overall pick Deandre Ayton in September.

The three deals each made sense at the time, yet the Suns are likely going to need to win a Play-In game to confirm their spot in the 2024 postseason. They're seventh in the West with a 43-31 record -- a disappointing result given the presence of two of the top 12-15 players in the league in Durant and Devin Booker.

Chris Paul, Bradley Beal
Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Moving Paul for Beal may have appeared like a clear upgrade, but according to 2008 NBA champion Kendrick Perkins in a recent interview with Hoops Hype, Phoenix have failed to replace Paul's leadership from the previous few seasons.

"...The Phoenix Suns haven’t had a leader since Chris Paul left. That doesn’t mean a guy that’s not gonna go out there and produce numbers and do what he do, but an actual leader. That’s why they’re one of the worst fourth-quarter teams, if not the worst fourth-quarter team in the league. That comes with leadership."

Kendrick Perkins

The Suns rank dead last in fourth-quarter performance, with their -14.3 net rating significantly worse than the 29th-ranked Miami Heat who are -5.9. How much of that has to do with Paul though? Having been on-traded from the Wizards to the Warriors, the 38-year-old hasn't overly aided his team's own fourth-quarter struggles with Golden State ranked 27th in net rating and having surrended a number of big leads this season.

Paul has averaged 9.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in his first season as a Warrior, having averaged a career-low 26.4 minutes as a backup point-guard for the first time in his decorated career.