Cam Johnson is the Phoenix Suns’ X-Factor moving forward

Phoenix Suns Cameron Johnson (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Cameron Johnson (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

We should not heap too much praise of expectation on him, but with his extraordinary range, making Cam Johnson a 15 point a game player would be huge for the Phoenix Suns.

There Phoenix Suns lost at home again, this time against the Toronto Raptors. But among the darkness of yet another blown opportunity against a good team, rookie Cam Johnson had the kind of game that should make fans hopeful for his future with the franchise.

Ironically on his 24th birthday, Johnson had the highest-scoring game of his career, 21 points, while hitting a career-high 5 3’s.

Granted, he attempted a career-high 13 from beyond the arc, but along with two slashing scores (one dunk in the fourth quarter off a beautiful pump fake from beyond the arc), and he showed just what he may develop into, the kind of accurate scorer that James Jones was apparently hoping to get when he traded back on draft day to snatch him.

Johnson’s 5 3’s on Tuesday night continued a streak of now 10 straight games nailing an outside shot (five of those with at least three) in which he has shot 43.1% from from deep during that streak.

Watching Cam play the way he is should bring memories back of Quentin Richardson to some fans from the 2004-05 season.

‘Q’ was essentially just a long-range bomber, attempting 217 more from long-range than from within the arc, for a league-leading 631 from 3.

In that Seven Seconds or Less system in which the team pushed the ball up the court at every opportunity, Q was generally left alone as a trailer, waiting for the dish following an aborted Steve Nash drive or off a pass following a double-team of Amare Stoudemire.

While Monty Williams‘ offense is not quite what Mike D’Antoni‘s was at that time, putting Cam in that kind of a system will easily make him one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the entire league – even potentially in the realm of players like Klay Thompson.

Shooting 45.7% from beyond the arc in his final year at North Carolina (and 40.5% for his five-year college career), Cam is at 39.7% through 49 games this season.

With a faster, offense, one that looks for fast break opportunities with more regularity, Johnson can be the greatest recipient of such a transition-based offense, and become that Quentin Richardson-type, raining 8+ 3’s a game, but at an even better clip (Q ‘only’ shot 35.8% from beyond the arc that year).

Doing so will easily push his scoring average up to around the 13-14 point range (Q finished with 14.9 points in his single season in Phoenix), making him one of the most important scorers on the roster.

Devin Booker is going to get his because he is capable of scoring with impunity (although he does tend to disappear against teams with better defenses, like Toronto’s where he scored only 22 points on 5-14 from the field), and one can only hope that Deandre Ayton‘s scoring is going to take another step forward next season with another strong summer of focus and development, as well as a better effort in the offense to get him the ball underneath the basket where he can do the most damage.

A strong transition offense then leaves players like Mikal Bridges (who isn’t as prolific a shooter as was expected of him coming out of college, only attempting 2.3 per game this season and 3.2 per 36-minutes, but has raised his average to 35.2%), and Cam Johnson, to make themselves available for the quick pass and spot up outside shot, which when draining then can drain  the opposition’s willingness to even run out at them.

Thus Johnson will become the X-Factor for this offense moving forward.

While most young players are normally expected to reach their true prime by their third year in the league, with Cam’s five years of college (four years longer than the average kid entering the draft these days), as well as his primary skill-set as a shooter in which he will not rely too heavily upon athleticism, he should be expected to take a serious step forward in his role on the team by next year.

Next. The Phoenix Suns need Devin Booker to Literally (not literally) carry his team. dark

As I opened, too much expectation and pressure shouldn’t be put on the still rookie, however, there should be at least some  expectation that he can enter next season readily capable of averaging double-digits scoring, while spacing the floor tremendously for the offense to work within.

Hopefully throughout the rest of this season his role can continue to grow which will allow such development to occur prior to offseason workouts – and with Kelly Oubre presumed to be out for the rest of the year with his torn meniscus, one can only assume he will be counted on to do so.