Phoenix Suns: 3 Secret Weapons for the Postseason

Phoenix Suns, Jevon Carter (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Jevon Carter (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Payne
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Payne (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns potential playoff secret weapons: Cameron Payne

Prior to joining the Suns, most only knew Payne as a pregame dance partner for Russell Westbrook during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Having since jumped from Chicago, then to Cleveland, and back to Chicago again before finding a home with the Suns, playing very little minutes while doing so, Payne long seemed destined for a “journeyman’s” career at best.

But like so many things this year, that all changed for Payne, who continues to enjoy a career season as a highly valued bench piece. Although Payne only averages 8.0 points per game, his efficiency this year has skyrocketed, allowing him to carve out a role as a steady contributor. Excluding last year where Payne only suited up for Phoenix’s eight game bubble stint, Payne is averaging career highs in field goal percentage (47.6), free throw percentage (88.5), and assist to turnover ratio (+3.5).

However, Payne’s ability to operate as a deadeye 3-point shooter makes him most dangerous. Shooting a career high 43.0 percent from beyond the arc, Payne really found his niche with the Suns this year. This marks a substantial jump for Payne, with it coming as a +10.2 percent differential from his other four seasons as a pro.

With Payne seemingly coming out of nowhere, Phoenix’s playoff opponents might mistakenly overlook him, and consequently leave themselves vulnerable. Although it came during a disappointing loss, Payne scored a career high 24 points Monday night while shooting 9/10 from the field, doing so against the Los Angeles Lakers who remain a likely first-round opponent for the Suns.