The Phoenix Suns have had a discouraging start to the season, but you would never guess by watching Richaun Holmes’ effort.
Phoenix Suns center Richaun Holmes is used to tough situations. In his first season in the NBA (2015-16), he played 51 games for the ten win Philadelphia 76ers. That team lost its’ first 18 games and 30 out of their first 31. If there was ever a place to get discouraged and give lackluster effort, it would have been on the 2015-16 Sixers. Plenty of players did. But Richaun Holmes didn’t.
Last season, Holmes didn’t play nearly as often as he would have liked, appearing in just 48 games all year and struggling to find minutes when Joel Embiid was in the lineup. But when he did get in, he always brought energy and heart. His play on the court never resembled someone who was disgruntled with his role.
So far this season, Holmes’ situation isn’t too different from his past. The Suns have the league’s worst record at 5-24, and Holmes is playing his fewest minutes per game since his rookie season. But when he’s on the floor, he brings the kind of effort the Suns need if they want to have any chance to win games.
When a team struggles this bad, it’s easy for young guys to get discouraged and lose focus. It’s just as easy for veterans to ask for a trade or a buyout and decide it’s not worth playing hard. There’s only so much a coach can do to prevent this from happening. It comes down to having players who care, and Richaun Holmes is that type of player.
With Devin Booker hurt, the Suns need to be at their best to have a chance to win any game, and that includes bringing their best effort. Against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, Holmes’ energy was infectious.
The Mavs were playing the second half of a back to back, and they clearly had tired legs. The Suns were able to take advantage due to their great hustle throughout the game. The team seems to play harder with Holmes in the game, with players hitting the floor for loose balls, fouling to prevent easy layups, and crashing hard on the glass.
At the end of the game, Holmes made a great hustle play to save the ball from going out of bounds on a broken possession, leading to a Josh Jackson 3 to essentially seal the win for the Suns. Plays like that set the tone for everyone else, and everyone should be trying to match that level of effort.
The Phoenix Suns should recognize this contribution and attempt to get Richaun Holmes more playing time. Deandre Ayton needs all the time he can get to develop, and he and Ayton are both centers, which makes getting Holmes more time tough. But Holmes had some success next to Joel Embiid last season, and it’s time to experiment with Ayton and Holmes together on the court.