To hear Deandre Ayton tell it, there are still good things to come for the Phoenix Suns even after they lost the 2021 NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ayton told reporters that he spoke to Devin Booker after Tuesday's loss and said, "This is just the beginning. … Now we know what we need to do, and no less. We're gonna keep each other accountable for the rest of our careers."
The future is certainly bright with those two considering Ayton is just 22 years old and Booker is 24. They were critical pieces in the run to the NBA Finals and figure to anchor the franchise for seasons to come even if Chris Paul does go elsewhere.
However, they will surely regret Tuesday's performance.
Ayton shot 4-of-12 from the field, struggled with foul trouble and had no chance of stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo on the defensive side as the NBA Finals MVP spearheaded Milwaukee's 105-98 win with 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
Booker was just 8-of-22 from the field and finished with six turnovers as he forced the issue at times and couldn't counter Antetokounmpo's brilliance.
Had Ayton and Booker played better, the Suns likely would have forced a Game 7 back at home considering they were tied heading to the fourth quarter and got 26 points from Paul.
The biggest question for the upcoming offseason is what will happen with Paul since he has a player option for the 2021-22 campaign on his contract, but the Suns figure to be championship contenders once again if he returns.
Perhaps this year's loss truly will be the start of an impressive run for Phoenix.