For the Phoenix Suns, Cam Payne is “campayning” for backup point spot

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

In his fifth season, Payne has provided a shot in the arm for the Phoenix Suns and has seemed to solidify a position of need.

With just over a minute left in the first quarter of the Phoenix Suns huge win over the Los Angeles Clippers, guard Cameron Payne swiped a pass from Kawhi Leonard and drove the length of the floor for a layup, extending the narrow two-point lead.

With just over three minutes left in the second quarter, Payne set his feet and fired a deep three to help Phoenix regain the lead.

Less than thirty seconds later, he brought the ball up the floor, took a step inside the three-point line, stepped back over it, and fired another long ball.

Same shot, same result.

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These plays were just a couple of the impactful moments Payne was a part of on the floor in his 20 minutes. Cam’s stat-line (12 points, three rebounds, three assists, 5-9 FG, 2-3 3FG) was a solid one to be sure, but his impact in the intangible categories for Phoenix has been invaluable.

Cameron Payne’s strong play couldn’t have come at a better time for the Phoenix Suns, as they continue their climb to fight for a playoff berth.

It is no secret that the backup point guard spot for the Suns has been an area of weakness, one that has been more or less covered over when one of Devin Booker or Ricky Rubio or on the floor, but still very much an issue. This is nothing against the play of a Jevon Carter, who has been effective this season, but he doesn’t project today as the lead guard of the future. Ty Jerome has had a rough rookie season and can’t be depended upon at the moment either. There may be a time when the Suns either draft or acquire their point guard of the future, but that time is not now.

Enter the 25-year-old Payne.

Payne has had an interesting journey. From Russell Westbrook’s dance partner to failed stops at Chicago and Cleveland, Payne seems to have found a home with the Suns. This is extremely small sample size theater, but since he has started play in Orlando, Payne is averaging 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists per game on 50% from the field and from three-point land (no free-throw attempts at all through three games which….that’s interesting.)

Even pushing aside the numbers, Cam’s energy, effort, and meshing with the rest of his teammates has led to an even more inspired second unit, one that can manage minutes playing alongside one of Booker or Deandre Ayton, and yet also tread water without either on the court. That is huge for Phoenix. With the Suns continuing their improbable climb into the western conference playoff picture, they will need all hands on deck, and Payne is the best “hand” the Phoenix Suns have coming off the pine in the backcourt.

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