Five things Arizona sports fans can be thankful for in 2022

The 2022 calendar year was full of unexpected surprises in the Arizona sports landscape.

But despite the ups and downs, there’s a lot for fans across the board to be thankful for.

The Phoenix Suns are still great, the Arizona Coyotes have a small, albeit popular, new temporary arena, and the Arizona Diamondbacks debuted the next wave of homegrown talent, to name a few.

Not to mention that COVID-19 is no longer a daily sports topic.

As you tuck into your third plate of Thanksgiving dinner and wonder what your local sports teams should be thankful for, consider the following.

Kyler is here to stay

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Believe it or not, Kyler Murray is already the fifth all-time drafted quarterback for the Cardinals in games played with the organization.

He will also become the first to crack 60 games this century since Jake Plummer in 2002.

The No. 1 overall signed a five-year, $230.5 million extension last summer that runs through 2028.

While 2022 wasn’t perfect — and rather full of drama — for Murray, he’s shown in the past that he can play at the MVP level.

The questions that remain are whether Murray can play MVP caliber for an entire season, whether head coach Kliff Kingsbury can help him get there, and what list GM Steve Keim needs to make around him.

If a player plays long enough, they’ll have seasons where they find both ends of the hierarchy. This year, Murray and the Cardinals (4-7) have struggled to find consistent success.

But how quickly do we forget that last year he led the team into the postseason for the first time in half a decade. And finding a franchise quarterback isn’t easy.

Dallas and the drama haven’t shut down the Suns

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

What happened to the Suns in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals in May will never be forgotten. At home, with the best record in the NBA, a 33-point loss is something that will keep fans and players busy for a while.

Let’s also add the offseason drama with owner Robert Sarver’s investigation and suspension for workplace racism and misogyny, as well as Deandre Ayton’s bizarre free hand and Jae Crowder’s ongoing trading situation.

Players have been given several legitimate excuses to fall behind this season and have the best record in the Western Conference (11-6) in Thanksgiving.

With Chris Paul currently sidelined, guard Devin Booker looks like an MVP contender, while forward Mikal Bridges is at 16.3 points per game, a career-best 16.3 points and shooting 47.4% from three.

The team has already survived several speed bumps and continues to perform.

New arena, new atmosphere, new team

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Though the Coyotes have picked up just one point in their last four games, they performed well above expectations in the early stages of this season.

A season ago, it took 29 games to reach 14 points, while this season it was 17.

Arizona shares the new Mullett Arena with the Arizona state hockey team, and the capacity is less than 5,000, but the Coyotes have narrowly played three of their four games at home — including a win over the Florida Panthers.

Clayton Keller has scored on a career-best 20.6% and also leads the team with 18 points.

Young outfield brightens future for D-Backs

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks had a 22-win improvement last season from their 2021 overall wins, thanks in large part to their young outfield.

The trio of Jake McCarthy, Daulton Varsho and Corbin Carroll made a lot of noise offensively, while Varsho and Alek Thomas have emerged as two of the best defensive outfield players in the league.

The emergence of these young outfielders, coupled with the breakouts of first baseman Christian Walker and the 2-1 thrashing of right-handers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly in the rotation, and D-backs fans have a lot to cheer about this holiday season.

A return to March Madness on the horizon?

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball team started the season 5-1 with a signature win under their belt.

After beating Michigan by 25 points, ASU went home and beat Grambling State’s brakes by 31 points.

The backcourt of Frankie Collins and DJ Horne anchored the Sun Devils’ offensive attack, while Collins, Devan and Desmond Cambridge and Warren Washington anchored the defensive side of the floor.

Forward Marcus Bagley has only played two games this season and ASU is 3-1 in his absence. This team may be legit, and if so, could play in its first NCAA tournament since 2018-19.

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