The Phoenix Suns’ bench is a huge part of their early bubble success

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns have changed up their rotation which has led to a huge boost from bench production and two early bubble wins.

Cameron Johnson as a starter may have created more balance off the bench as Dario Saric and a pair of point guards have been major contributors to the Phoenix Suns’ 2-0 bubble start.

Tell a coach they will get 14 and seven every night from one guy off the bench, and he will take it. That might be the thinking in moving Dario Saric to the bench and inserting Cameron Johnson into the starting lineup.

Additionally, the steadying hand of Saric as an offensive option helps with the continued development of backup ball-handlers, Jevon Carter and Cameron Payne, for the Phoenix Suns.

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Saric provides leadership for the Phoenix Suns off the bench

Having a legit scoring option off the bench is something playoff teams have. And while one day Cameron Johnson might be a consistent bench scorer, the team is better off with more experience coming off the pine.

As teams continue to move toward smaller lineups, an experienced pro like Saric off the bench creates a different structure for the second team. Instead of having a stretch three/four in Johnson who relies primarily on his long-range jumper, Saric can get inside and pound the paint – particularly when Deandre Ayton is on the bench.

Saric’s 16 points and six rebounds against the Wizards followed by the 13 points and eight boards against the Mavs provided real production from the second unit. If he can keep that up, it gives the team an inside out threat off the bench.

This level of play is particularly important while Kelley Oubre is out and Frank Kaminsky continues to recover from injury. If Monty Williams can continue to get this kind of production from Saric, it bodes well for this developmental run for the Phoenix Suns.

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Point Guard Progress

While Ricky Rubio has finally provided some stability as the starting point guard, the reality is since the Suns went from three first-team point guards to zero, they really did not have an NBA caliber back-up either. Carter and Payne are young enough to continue to improve and provide some real production from the point guard slot off the bench.

Across the two games, the pair have combined for 32 points, nine assists, five steals, 11 rebounds, and most importantly, only 2 turnovers across 90 combined minutes. If the Suns can get consistency at the point guard spot off the bench, that helps the second team and the first team, which relies so heavily on a fresh Ricky Rubio.

I like that Williams is often playing Carter and Payne together, meaning the team does not have to rely on just one person to handle the rock and provides more opportunities for transition. If the point guard spot continues to improve for Suns, who knows where these eight games might lead.

For now, if nothing else, it is a 2-0 start.

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