Suns Continue To Win Thanks To Stars Evolving
A quarter of the way through the season Phoenix is the number one seed in the Western Conference, 14-6. The Suns continue to win despite injuries to Cameron Johnson and Chris Paul thanks to the continued evolution of their stars.
Devin Booker continues to be one of the league’s best scorers, but he also has taken on some of the point guard duties in the absence of Paul. Deandre Ayton‘s improving offensive game showed in his 28-point effort against the Detroit Pistons. Mikal Bridges has become the quarterback of the defense, and he is averaging a career-high in scoring. All three are still young so its not completely surprising that they have shown growth, but it was necessary with the team down two starters.
Both Paul and Johnson are expected back within the next few weeks. Their return takes some of the load off Booker to play the point and Bridges’ and Ayton’s scoring will decrease some as well. The Suns kept winning when Paul went down with a thumb injury last year as well. When he came back the Suns worked him back in slowly. Expect the same thing for him and Johnson, given how the team is playing now.
Offseason Acquisitions Helping Phoenix Survive Injury
The Suns picking up Jock Landale and Damion Lee in the offseason were not viewed as major acquisitions. Landale’s energy and shooting has given him a special role: fourth quarter backup role. The role seems to suit him well and means Bismack Biyombo does not have to play too many minutes.
Damion Lee’s shooting has been needed as Landry Shamet has struggled coming back from his concussion. Lee’s 15 points were huge Monday against the Sacramento Kings. He currently is in the top five in three-point shooting percentage.
Landale and Lee’s play has helped the team’s bench, which was considered a weakness at the start of the season. When Johnson and Paul return Torrey Craig and Cameron Payne will again come off the bench. The confidence they have gained playing major minutes can only strengthen Phoenix’s reserves.
Biggest Question For Suns: What Can They Get For Jae Crowder?
Jae Crowder still wants to start for someone. He requested a trade when Monty Williams inserted Johnson into the starting lineup at the start of the season. The question now is what can the Suns get for him?
One of the better trades suggested is with the Philadelphia 76ers. The biggest piece the Suns would acquire is Tobias Harris but they would give up Craig in the proposed trade. Craig played a significant role during the Suns’ run to the NBA Finals. A fan favorite, his size and rebounding are a plus for Phoenix’s frontcourt. Plus he can be a solid if streaky three-point shooter as well.
Whatever James Jones gets for Crowder the question remains the same for the Suns: will it be enough to get Phoenix over the finish line? The West looks to be in a bit of flux right now and questions surround other contenders. Phoenix anxiously awaits a deal with the hopes that it will bring them closer to celebrating the team’s first championship.
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