It has been well documented that during Frank Kaminsky‘s time in the starting lineup the Phoenix Suns have a perfect 8-0 record. It is also true that the one game of the last nine in which Kaminsky did not play nor start is the one game that the Suns lost.
It is also most likely true that a starting lineup featuring Kaminsky is something that Suns fans really want to see going into their first playoff game in over a decade.
The Phoenix Suns are a very deep team and have given Monty Williams a lot of options, thanks to players like Kaminsky stepping up. That kind of depth is good but becomes less important once you get into playoff basketball and it comes down to your team’s best five against another team’s.
The Phoenix Suns have had a lot of success lately but have been tinkering with the starting lineup all season. They need to settle on a lineup and there is one option that makes the most sense.
It is hard to imagine the best possible iteration of this Suns team without Jae Crowder being one of the five players on the court. After all, we are less than six months removed from Crowder starting every playoff game for a Miami Heat team that went to the finals. While at the end of the day wins are what matter most there can be room for improvement after a win just like there can be growth that occurs during a loss.
Over the past nine games, Kaminsky has a net rating of +8.4, which puts him exactly 10th out of 10 players for the Suns who are averaging over 10 minutes per game in that stretch. That is in comparison to Crowder whose +17.7 rating ties him with Chris Paul for the second-highest of the group, although Crowder has played in only six of the nine games.
That isn’t to say that Kaminsky has been bad, not even close, just that leads have been increasing at the slowest rate with him on the floor. While the splits of five-man lineups for the two with the starters over the stretch are still puzzling and hurt Crowder’s case, if you believe that he is one of the best five players, and can play off of the stars, there is no reason for him not to start and close games.
Early in the season, it was noted how much adjusting Devin Booker and Chris Paul were doing learning to play together, and how it was negatively impacting their play. Crowder was out there with those lineups, and he took the hit, going to the bench. The biggest factor in the Suns winning games recently has been health, and that Booker and Paul are both on torrid stretches.
That meshing as a whole unit still needs to take place, which is something that takes time, time that is taken away by constantly messing with the lineup and keeping key players out of it. Leaving Kaminsky in the starting lineup will not hurt the Suns in the regular season, but keeping Crowder out will in the playoffs.